Category Archives: Willard Brown

Belated Happy Birthday Willard Brown

Willard Brown, born 6/26/15, is said to have fit the bill of what is called a “five tool” baseball player. A superb fielding outfielder; Brown ran the bases with blazing speed, had a strong throwing arm, and could hit for a high average with home run power.  Many ascribed to him by the nickname “Home Run” Brown.  He played for the Kansas City Monarchs mostly throughout his Negro League career (1935 – 1950).  He served in the military (1944 – 1945) during World War II and briefly played Major League baseball in 1947 with the St. Louis Browns.  On August 13, 1947 Brown became the first African-American to hit a home run in the American League.

wb1\

In 2006, Willard Brown and fifteen other individuals from the Negro League baseball era were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I profile the 2006 inductees in my book “Last Train to Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era”.  The following is a brief book exert from my profile of Willard Brown:

“Brown had a tendency to appear bored during games. When

that happened it is said he would take a magazine with him to the

outfield to read between pitches. And sometimes he would walk

instead of running to his outfield position, holding up the start of an

inning. This gave an impression of Brown by some as having a

“prima donna” attitude.

 

But former teammate and manager Buck O’Neil said, “Willard

was so talented, he did not look as if he was hustling. Everything

looked so easy for him.” Brown’s extreme talent made it appear he

did things effortlessly. While most players ran around the bases, he

seemed to glide. The exhaustion of the game would be evident on

most players, but it appeared Brown hardly broke a sweat. O’Neil

felt that no matter what “Home Run” Brown did, people thought he

could do a little more because of his enormous talent.

 

But Negro League fans appreciated the play of Willard Brown.

They selected him to participate in six Negro League East‐West All

Star Games. In ten All Star plate appearances Brown had five hits.

 

As an indication of Negro League baseball’s relative prosperity

after surviving the economic depression of the late 1920s and

1930s, the Negro League World Series was played in 1942. There

had not been one since 1927. The 1942 fall classic saw the two

most recognized Negro League franchises tangle, the Kansas City

Monarchs against the Homestead Grays. Willard Brown was one of

the series’ hitting stars as the Monarchs swept the Grays four

games to none. He batted .412 (7 hits in 17 at bats) with one double,

one triple, and of course one home run.”

wb2

To read more about Willard Brown and the Negro League baseball era Last Train to Cooperstown 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: