" . . . The ship went down in about 17 minutes. All I know is that I came to in the water some time later.”
On early morning of July 6, 1943, Bearden’s ship was struck in the Kula Gulf in the South Pacific near the Solomon Islands as part of an American task force battling the Japanese. Bearden was in the engine room when the first torpedo hit and the order was given to abandon ship. As he scrambled up the ladder leading out of the engine room, a second torpedo hit and the ladder crumbled, hurling him to the deck. With his knee twisted and crushed and his head split open by flying shards of metal, he lay unconscious in the pit of a sinking ship.
“Someone pulled me out,” he told Jones, “They told me later that it was an officer. I don’t know how he did it. The ship went down in about 17 minutes. All I know is that I came to in the water some time later.”
So on the unseasonably cold night of May 18, 1948, as Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck recovered in the Cleveland Clinic from a second amputation on a leg infected in a combat zone in the South Pacific, and before a crowd of 44,231, the game was under way. The crowd included Dr. William Brubaker, the surgeon who had performed the first of the 23 operations on Brissie’s left leg and a Cleveland fan. He was in the stands to cheer for his patient, but to no avail. Bearden pitched the full nine innings, giving up only six hits, and won 6-1 – putting the Indians in first place with a .004 margin over the A’s to regain the lead they had ceded to the A’s two weeks earlier. Brissie faced only 10 batters before being relieved.