Benedictine College World Series Connections

World Series: Benedictine College Honoree, American Hero Throws Game 2 First Pitch


“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

That and a plug for the daily Rosary was the message Colonel Roger Donlon gave the graduating class of 2015 at Benedictine College’s commencement last May. The Congressional Medal of Honor recipient was one of two to receive an honorary degree: The other was Dayton Moore, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations & General Manager of the Kansas City Royals.

The next public appearance of the two together was Game 2 of the 2015 World Series on October 28 in Kansas City. Moore asked Donlon to throw out the first pitch.

The two have been associated at Benedictine College in a number of ways, another being the Leadership Class led by Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis and Dean of Students Joseph Wurtz. It was in that class in February of 2014 that Moore predicted the Royals would go to the World Series for the first time in decades. And it was in that class that Roger Donlon told the story that made him the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.

In July 1964, Donlon’s base came under fire in the middle of the night. All communication was cut off and he and his men were outnumbered 10 to 1. Donlon became the messenger between mortar pits.

A bullet hit his stomach but he kept going. He saw a sergeant in trouble and dragged him to safety. Then a mortar exploded and wounded his left shoulder. After that, he crawled 575 feet to another firing position and directed efforts to protect the camp.

 “My senior NCO, “Pop” Alamo, who was a veteran of World War II and Korea, died in my arms,” Donlon said. “My youngest sergeant, John Houston, was also killed. What was special about those men? One was the oldest, one was one of the youngest. Both had wives back home with children. Both were expecting. And when the medic told me they were killed the first thought in my mind was ‘Why God? Why them and not me?’”

When he eventually saw the enemy weakening, he moved from place to place around the camp, throwing grenades and inspiring his men to keep up the fight. As he did this another mortar shell wounded him in the face and body.

As daylight broke, the enemy retreated back into the jungle and the wounded colonel reorganized his defenses and administered first aid to his soldiers.

He told students that he attributed his ability to stay calm in battle to the foundation in the faith his father and mother gave him, instilling in him the practice of a daily Rosary from a young age.

Even though the network chose not to televise the pitch, we hope everyone in the stadium and all those who know Roger Donlon took the opportunity to salute a true American hero.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.