March 13, 2007

PUTTING THE MARINE IN MARINER:

Every day is veteran's day for Padres pitcher (Greg Bishop, 3/13/07, Seattle Times)

The letter arrived first class a couple weeks ago, and Cpl. Cooper Brannan nearly fell over when he saw "The White House" on the return address. He read the parts about duty and sacrifice and honor over and over, which gave him chills, along with the signature at the bottom.

It read: George W. Bush.

"Words can't even describe how I feel," says Brannan, 22. "I'm living my dream, man."

As he says this, the sun pokes through the clouds hovering over the San Diego Padres spring training facility. Brannan is just another right-handed pitching prospect here. The Padres organization is his team now. Pitching is his job.

He asks for the time. 8:30 a.m. It's evening in Iraq. His smile disappears.

Only 16 months ago, Brannan called Iraq home for the second time. His team was the Marines. His job was to lead a dozen men, keep them safe, alive and focused.

There is a part of him that remains uncomfortable with all the attention. The part that knows his friends are there, in war, where Brannan lost the pinky finger on his left hand.

"I've got friends that are fighting right now," Brannan says. "That's when you have to step back in reality and be humble for what we're doing here."

This story isn't about Mariners. It's about Marines.


Which reminds us of Gary Maddox--of whom Ralph Kiner famously said: "Two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by water and the other third is covered by Gary Maddox." He was playing against the Mets one day and the broadcasters mentioned his tour of duty in Vietnam. Richard Nixon was a big Mets fan and was listening to the broadcast so he sent the centerfielder an inscribed copy of one of his books and thanked him for his service. These days Mr. Maddox is completing one of your odder trifectas: soldier; ballplayer; Federal Reserve banker.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2007 7:04 AM
Comments

Nixon, big Mets fan -- I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 13, 2007 9:34 AM
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