1948 was a good year for Ben Hogan. He won 11 times on tour, collected the money title, the Player of The Year Award and the Vardon Trophy for low stroke average. In short Ben Hogan was the best golfer alive. On this day in 1949, however, he was nearly dead. The evening prior while traveling home between Van Horn and El Paso Texas in dense fog Hogan's car was struck head on by a Greyhound bus.
As Hogan's luck would have it a selfless act saved his life. Seeing that his car was about to be struck he flung his body across the seat to protect his wife Valerie from the impact. The act saved her and most of Ben Hogan. The steering column only caught his shoulder before impalng the drivers seat and the Cadillac engine that was now in his lap thankfully did not kill him. Near death for days, a radical blood clot removal surgery would save his life but the veins they borrowed from his legs, along with the broken bones in his ankles, shoulder and ribs made golf an unlikely possibility.
But, Hogan did recover, spending the balance of 1949 planning his return to golf egged on by thousands of cards and letters from well wishers. In 1950 he was the unlikely winner of the US Open and then went on to capture 4 more majors including 3 in 1953 alone re-establishing Hogan at the head of an elite club of golf's greatest players. Thinking now, I would imagine that the club of people struck head on by a Greyhound bus and lived to tell about it must be a fairly elite on too. ;-)