Yankees Bobby Brown Dies At 96
Chose To Be A Great Doctor, Over Being A Great Baseball Player
Bobby Brown (Oct. 24, 1924- March 25, 2021) the golden boy Yankee star whose brief career in pinstripes bridged two star-studded Yankee eras, died Thursday March 25 in Fort Worth, TX.
After batting .341 in 148 games at Newark in his only minor league season, Brown was a late September 1946 call-up to the Yankees, playing in only seven games for the big club that year. In this brief stint, Brown made quite an impression with his sure fielding and batting .333 by going 8 for 24.
There’s probably few players more qualified than Red Sox superstar Ted Williams to point out a rival’s strengths .
After playing the Yankees, Ted Williams honed in on how good Brown and another Yankees call-up, Yogi Berra were. In the September 26, Boston Daily Globe Williams wrote:
“Of the new Yankee players I’ve seen the last couple of days, the one who has impressed me the most as a bright prospect, is Bobby Brown, the shortstop. And I’ve seen quite a few of their new players: pitchers Al Lyons and Karl Drews, catcher Larry Berra whom the call “The Yogi,” and he has the facial appearance to fit the name; third baseman Joe Bockman and outfielder Frank Coleman.
Berra is a little man who seems to be all muscles. He looks like he can hit a ball a long way if he connects. The others didn’t show too much, except for Brown. He looks the part of a ballplayer. I thought so when I first saw him in uniform before he even made a play or hit a ball.
The thing I liked best about Brown is that he will make the right play all the time. He showed me something in two games I haven’t seen all season. Twice he came up with a hard hit ball and threw out one of our runners trying to make third from second base. That is one of the most difficult plays for a shortstop to make and he did it twice in as many games as though he had been doing it all his life,
Bobby has a swell pair of hands. He can run well. Up at bat he reminds me of Red Rolfe. I think he hits at a ball the way the Yankee coach and old third baseman did. He takes a sharp cut at the ball.”
Bobby Brown played alongside the 1930s-40s era Yankee greats; Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich and Phil Rizzuto. As those stars retired or cut back their playing time a new crop of stars developed along with Brown, playing under Casey Stengel including Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Jerry Coleman.
Before signing, Brown was pursued by virtually every major league team. The Stanford graduate was signed by the New York Yankees in December 1945 while he was studying medicine at Tulane University. Brown knew that one day he would become a doctor and baseball would take a back seat to medicine.
Newspapers kept quoting different amounts, and Yankee General Manager Larry McPhail paid anywhere from $35,000 -$50,000 to get the twenty-two year-old multi-talented player. Brown not only excelled in baseball, but was great at football, basketball and swimming. The Yankees it turned out did not even offer the most money for Brown. As Brown’s father wryly commented, “the kid’s had a Yankee uniform on since he was 13.”
Brown continued his medical studies while playing professional baseball for the Yankees, receiving his medical degree in 1950.
During his abbreviated eight year playing career, Brown hit .279 with a .367 on base percentage.
But it was the World Series where Brown elevated his team. He was a member of four world championship teams, playing in 17 games with 18 hits in 41 at bats for a .439 career average and a .500 OBP. That is the record for highest World Series batting average for any player with 35 or more at bats.
Brown had received a Silver Star in World War II and served his country again in Korea, missing all but 29 games of the 1952 season and the entire 1953 season. By 1954 Brown decided to hang up his spikes and devote his life to fulfilling his Hippocratic oath. Brown became a full-time cardiologist in 1958 working out of Fort Worth.
Brown decided to return to baseball, when he was offered the presidency of the American League in 1984. He held the job until stepping down August 1, 1994.
When Brown was about to become the American League president, he was asked by The New York Times if he ever wondered what kind of a player he would have been if he had pursued baseball full time.
He replied, “I ask it daily.”
Bobby Brown the baseball player will probably never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But I’m positive there are thousands of former patents and their families who are eternally grateful Brown chose medicine over the baseball diamond,
In the scheme of living, is hitting a home run in the major leagues or winning a World Series more meaningful than saving someone’s life? Only a handful of people could answer that through experience. Dr. Bobby Brown was a special man who knew the answer.