Eddie Grant was killed in World War I, when he led a mission in the Argonne Forest to rescue the "Lost Battalion" trapped behind German lines. He became the only Major League player killed in wartime action, when he met with machine gun fire. A monument to his memory was placed in the Polo Grounds' deep centerfield.
The Eddie Grant Plaque was dedicated on May 30, 1921. Grant, a former Giant, was also a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School. Famed sportswriter Grantland Rice read a poem he had written for the occasion. The poem appeared in the book "OUT OF LEFT FIELD" (Three Rivers Press) and is repeated here:
Far from the Game and the cheering of old,
A cross in the Argonne will tell you the story
Where each one may read on its rain-battered mold
A final box score that is written in glory.
A final box score of a Player who gave
The flag that he fought for, his ghost-and his grave.
Green be his couch where the white lilies lean
Crimson the poppies that keep guard above him.
Gentle the darkness that gathers between
The Player at rest and the torn hearts that love him.
God give him refuge where Life's flag is furled
A dreamer gone back to the dust of the world.
Low be the lost winds of France that must creep
Over his rest in the Last Tavern lying.
Good send Thy dreams where the Darkness is deep,
Father, Thy care when the wild storms are flying.
No monarch there-but the soul of a Man-
We speak for a Brother-for One of the Clan!
by Grantland Rice
According to the July 5, 2005 Sports Illustrated article, "25 Lost Treasures" "after the Giants' final out in 1957, 11,000 New Yorkers ran on to the field to pillage -- their beloved team was forsaking the Polo Grounds for San Francisco. In deep center, three teens pried loose a plaque that memorialized third baseman Eddie Grant, the only major leaguer killed in World War I. Police nabbed the kids, but the plaque was never turned in to the precinct. ESTIMATED VALUE: $ 20,000.
To this day, the plaque is still missing.
Courtesy of SABR-L and Sports Illustrated
For more info on Eddie Grant, go to the SABR Bio Project list for Eddie Grant: