Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gretna's "most famous son"

The City of Gretna, Louisiana will be dedicating a life-sized bronze statue to her "most famous son," major league baseball legend Mel Ott (1909-1958), a few days after what would have been his 100th birthday. I will be giving the invocation at the ceremony this Saturday (March 7) at 10:00 a.m. at 4th Street and Huey P. Long Avenue (just over a block from my front door). This central location in the heart of Gretna's historical district is very close to where Ott was born on March 2, 1909.

Mel Ott was a member at Salem Lutheran Church, and still has relatives who are current members. I found his baptismal record when I was first approached about giving the invocation.

Several of my parishioners remember him warmly, and in spite of his remarkable achievements as a pro athlete (entering the major leagues at the age of 16!), he remained humble and good-natured. He died tragically in a car accident in New Orleans at the age of 49.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Mel Ott is the forgotten superstar of Major League Baseball. Of all the people in the 500 HR club, he is the one talked about the least, even though he played for the NY Giants. I think partially this is because he wasn't flamboyant in his days - he simply played - and because he died so young, so he wasn't around to be one of the guys telling stories.

I hadn't known that he was Lutheran, though. Neat.

Peter said...

I with Eric. Mel Ott was great! And Lutheran too. What's not to like?

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

Another great Lutheran baseball player! It would be interesting to come up with an all-time Lutheran baseball roster.

For a northern Hall of Fame Lutheran from the same era as Ott who was just as or even greater, check out the biography and stats for Max Carey. He was the all time triples and stolen base leader in Major League Baseball.

But what is even more interesting about Max Carey was his life prior to baseball......being a graduate of Concordia College, Fort Wayne, and taking one year of studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Plus the bonus for Father Hollywood and the people of Louisiana: Max Carey was from Terre Haute, IN, a name of great French origin.


Peter said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Luke. I checked Max out on the web, and found out that besides being an outstanding player, he later became a coach of a woman's team - - the venerable Fort Wayne Daisies . . . pretty cool.