March 6, 2007 [LINK / comment]

U.S. Marine signs with Padres

Now here is an inspirational news story: The San Diego Padres acquired the services of right-handed pitcher Cooper Brannan, a U.S. Marine corporal who lost the little finger on his left hand while serving on his second tour in Iraq. He has recovered almost full use of his hand, and he is still on active duty. It's a unique situation. There is a huge naval base in San Diego, and Brannan underwent rehabiliation in the Navy Medical Center there. See and ESPN. The signing took place almost three weeks ago, but I just learned about it on Sunday, in a video clip of him at spring training. They seem to think he has a very good shot at making it to the majors.

This reminds me of Mordecai "Three-Fingers" Brown, who played for most of his career as a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs about a century ago -- the last time they won the World Series, in fact. He ended his career in 1916, just as the Cubs moved into what later became Wrigley Field. (See