Terrerobytes: Jim Thome pitches in for central Illinois tornado relief

David Banks

Plus: The A's say they'll miss Todd Steverson, the Twins sign Ricky Nolasco, and Lou Brissie's story is still incredible

The tornadoes that ripped through the city of Washington in central Illinois earlier this month hit close to home for Jim Thome. More precisely, it hit close to his brother's home. Randy Thome lives in Washington, not too far from where they were raised in Peoria.

In response, Jim Thome and his family contributed $100,000 to the tornado relief efforts. Moreover, his commitment spurred his former clubs -- the White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins -- to help as well, and there's a need for more.

To learn more about the Thome family and White Sox relief efforts visit whitesox.com/Community or to join the White Sox Volunteer Corps visit whitesox.com/VolunteerCorps. To donate directly to help Washington, checks can be mailed to Morton Community Bank, c/o the city of Washington Tornado Relief Fund, 721 West Jackson Street, Morton IL 61550.

Terrerobytes

Dan Hayes talked to Oakland assistant GM David Forst about the void Todd Steverson leaves in the Oakland system:

"He was able to touch everyone from first-year guys up to Triple-A," Forst said. "He spent a year with our big league club. He’s got experience with players at every level. He clearly has a passion for what he’s doing and hitting and I’m sure that will come across. … Todd in the role he had the last two years was a huge part of our system. But you ultimately know that those guys want to be in the majors leagues so I’m happy for him that he got the job."

The Twins signed Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million contract. He's been one of those guys who breaks FIP, as his ERA is consistently higher -- sometimes severely so -- year after year. Perhaps he's been in need of a better defense, or maybe he just struggles from the stretch. Either way, it leads to a massive difference in his WAR valuations. Since 2009:

  • FanGraphs: 15 WAR
  • Baseball-Reference.com: 5.8 WAR

He should give the Twins some swing-and-miss ability, as Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey tied for the team lead with 101 strikeouts. Nolasco struck out 142 in a down year.

Lou Brissie, who died earlier this week at the age of 89, is one of baseball's more incredible stories. He spent his career with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians, including an All-Star Game in 1949, but it's incredible that he was even able to pitch at all:

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1944, he was slogging through the Apennines in northern Italy with his platoon when a German shell exploded beside him. Fragments broke his right foot, injured his right shoulder and shattered the shinbone of his left leg into more than 30 pieces.

As he recalled it long afterward, "My leg had been split open like a ripe watermelon."

Brissie was evacuated to a hospital in Naples, where an Army surgeon, Dr. Wilbur K. Brubaker, told him he would probably have to amputate his leg, which had become infected.

Brissie explained that he hoped to pitch in the major leagues. Dr. Brubaker wired the shattered bone fragments together and put Brissie on the new "wonder drug" penicillin. His leg was saved, but over the next two years he underwent 23 operations.

He went 44-48 with a 4.07 ERA over his seven-year career. In the middle of it, he was traded in a three-team deal that sent Minnie Minoso from the Cleveland Indians to the White Sox. Brissie was a key piece. The Sox and Indians couldn't agree on a left-handed pitcher to include in the deal, so they had to rope in a third team to get the deal done. Philadelphia and Brissie fit the bill.

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