American Legion to hold first induction class

By Thomas Grant Jr.

Before embarking on a legendary Major League Baseball career with the New York Yankees, Bobby Richardson perfected his craft in American Legion.

The same is true for Columbia native Jerry Martin and the late Billy O’Dell.

On Nov. 2, the trio along with three other former players and two non-players will be recognized as part of the inaugural American Legion Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.

The banquet will take place at Seawell’s Restaurant starting at 5:30 p.m. with the meet and greet.

“I am excited for several reasons,” said Legree Oswald, S.C. American Legion baseball director and chairman. “I’m excited for the families; I’m excited about the fact that this is the crown jewel of this great program. This is the first hall of fame that is not being sponsored by a school. It’s being sponsored by the American Legion.”

Here’s the complete list of inductees:

Bobby Richardson – The Sumter native spent 12 seasons with the New York Yankees as a second baseman and won three World Series titles. He’s notable for being the only MVP selected from the losing team of a World Series in 1960. After Richardson’s playing career ended, he became a head coach for the University of South Carolina (1970-76), Coastal Carolina (1976-85) and Liberty University (1986-90).

Jerry Martin – The Columbia native played 11 seasons in MLB in the outfield and first base. He played for Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City and New York Mets and batted .251, hit 85 home runs and drove in 385 runs. Martin would go on to a coaching career which lasted 35 years.

Billy O’Dell – The Whitmire native pitched 13 seasons in MLB with four different teams (Baltimore, San Francisco, Milwaukee/Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. He threw in 479 games, winning 105, striking out 1,133 batters and posting an earned run average of 3.29.

Lou Brissie – The Anderson native pitched seven seasons in MLB with the Philadelphia As and Cleveland Indians. He had 44 victories, 29 saves and struck out 436 batters.

Bobby Bolin – The Hickory Grove native pitched 13 seasons in MLB with San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Boston. He won 85 games, had 50 saves, struck out 1,175 batters and had an ERA of 3.40.

Don Buddin – The Turbeville native played six seasons at shortstop and second base for Boston, the Houston Colt .45s and Detroit. He batted .241 with 551 career hits, 41 home runs and 225 RBI.

Bill Brewer – A graduate of Manning High School, he served 35 years as an American Legion coach and athletics director for Post 68. He’s currently a member of the American Legion Baseball State Committee.

Buck Schwing – A graduate of Rock Hill High School, he served 50 years as an American Legion Coach, Athletics Officer, and member of the American Legion Baseball Committee. He also earned the Purple Heart in Vietnam.

Individual tickets for the event are $55 per person. A table of eight can be purchased for $400 while a table of 10 can be purchased for $500.

Contact Billy Brewer at 803-460-4747 for more information. Payments can also be sent to Craig O’Dell at 1840 Charleston Highway, Cayce, SC 29033 or LeGree Oswald at 3028 Blalock Drive, West Columbia, SC 29169.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAPTIST COURIER – Former New York Yankee Bobby Richardson and wife Betsy