Wednesday, March 7, 2012

National Amps. A Roll of Honor

It's more common in football and basketball-two sports that use collegiate sports as a farm system-but sometimes you see a team roster and the alma maters of the players.  For the National Amps check out the "schools" these guys attended:


It is not always easy to search out information on people, even in the day of the internet.  This is especially true with common names.  But for the benefit of posterity here are a few pictures and details about the National Amps players:
Dick Adelchi.  Left Fielder.

Bob Anderson.  Shortstop and Team Captain.

Gale Beccue, 5th Ranger Battalion.  Veteran of D-Day.  Lost his leg after stepping on a mine in February of 1945.  Holding his glove is his son.

Julius "Julie" Feig.  At one time he was Chief of the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids division of the New York Region Veterans Administration.  Several scientific articles on phantom limb pain and the psychological effects of amputation credit his assistance.  Was once an "Eastern District Basketball star".

Fiorello "Bill" Marino.  1924-1997.  A one armed pitcher he was likely the only man since the 1870s to play baseball bare handed.

Jack Miller.  Later employed as a sales rep for a prosthetics company.

Morris Novgrad.  Wounded in World War I. (Arm amputee)  Went on to become an attorney of some repute.  Chairman of the Baseball Committee.

Jack Palminteri.

Norman Shubinsky.  A good example of history being unfair.  With the tenacious survival of official records I can read about his lawsuit for unfair termination by the Naval Applied Science Laboratory in 1969, but of his honorable military service and his later civilian employment by the above agency and previously by the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard.....nothing.

Tom Trovato.

Matt Valuri.  In July 1945 he won a $50 war bond in a bicycle race for amputees while recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C.

James Whiteside.

They are mostly gone now, but I had an opportunity a few years ago to chat with several of the National Amps players.  By extremely unlikely chance I first stumbled upon this story and only later realized that one of the above gentlemen was the father of a friend of mine. 

These men were very matter of fact when discussing their military service, their injuries and their later lives.  The whole concept of amputee baseball teams, slightly odd though it seems to our later generation, was no big deal to them.

The random mayhem of a battle field sometimes means that this fellow will lose a limb and the man next to him come through without a scratch.  The courage and stoicism displayed by the Amps really was no big deal.  It typified the entirety of our Father's Generation.

But in giving proper respect where it is due, lets not overlook the heroism of the current generation.  In a prior post I mentioned a revival of amputee baseball (or at least softball) among the wounded veterans of our recent conflicts.   Here is the 2012 Wounded Warrior Amputee softball team:
And their  website .

They are wearing Washington Nationals uniforms here, as that major league team has been instrumental in their organization.  As in the days of Bert Shepard, the proximity to Walter Reed is no doubt a factor.

They will be on tour this summer and I for one am planning on catching a game.  The saying goes "Heroes are hard to find". 


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