Willard Brown

Willard Jessie Brown (26 June 1915 – 4 August 1996), nicknamed "Home Run" Brown, was an American baseball player who played outfielder in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball (MLB). He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Willard Brown
Born: June 26, 1915
Shreveport, Louisiana
Died: August 4, 1996 (aged 81)
Houston, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 19, 1947, for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
August 17, 1947, for the St. Louis Browns
MLB statistics
Batting average.179
Home runs1
Runs batted in6
Negro leagues

Major League Baseball

Career highlights and awards
  • One of the greatest power hitters in Negro League history
  • First African-American to hit a home run in the American League
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodNegro League Committee

Early life

Brown was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on 26 June 1915. He grew up in Natchitoches, Louisiana and in Shreveport. Brown's father was a mill laborer who became the owner of a cabinetmaking shop. Brown was a batboy in spring training for the Kansas City Monarchs, as the Negro league team held its workouts in Shreveport.[1]

Early Negro league experience

He began his professional baseball career in 1934 with the Monroe Monarchs, a minor Negro league team. In 1936, he signed with the Kansas City Monarchs, for which he played continuously until seeing action in World War II in 1944-45. During his pre-war baseball years, he established himself as having the most raw power in Negro League history, and possibly in the history of baseball. He hit home runs more often than the better known Josh Gibson, causing Gibson to give Brown his nickname. He also hit for a batting average of .374 in 1948 and regularly hitting over .350. Brown was one of the fastest players in baseball in the late 1930s and 1940s, as well as a solid outfielder. From 1937 to 1946 Brown helped lead the Monarchs to six pennants in ten seasons.[2]

In the 1942 season the Monarchs met the Negro National League champion Homestead Grays in the first World Series between the Negro American League and the Negro National League. With Brown hitting .412 and a home run, the Monarchs won four straight games.[3]

MLB career

He played briefly in the major leagues in 1947, having signed with the floundering St. Louis Browns. On 20 July, Brown and Hank Thompson played against the Boston Red Sox. It was the first time that two black players appeared in an MLB game together.[4]

Brown entered the baseball record books on August 13, 1947, when he became the first African-American player to hit a home run in the American League: an inside-the-park homer off Detroit Tigers pitcher and future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser.[5] Even throughout the season, Brown struggled because of the racism endemic in his new surroundings, as he hit .179 in just 21 games between July 19 and August 21 before he was released.[5]

Later career

That winter, Brown went to Puerto Rico and had one of his greatest seasons ever, batting .432 with 27 home runs and 86 RBI in just 60 games, winning the Triple Crown and earning the nickname Ese Hombre or "That Man". He then won the Puerto Rican Winter League Triple Crown in the 1949–1950 season, and also hit for the cycle once in his career.

Returning to the Monarchs for the 1948 season and stayed with the team until his retirement from top-level baseball in 1950. Subsequently, he was a successful minor league player in the Texas League from 1953 through 1956. His career home run total is not known, but he is considered to be among the Negro league career leaders in homers despite a relatively brief career.

Later life and legacy

After retiring from baseball, Brown was a long time resident of Houston, Texas, where he died in 1996 at the age of 81. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years.[1]

Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.[5] The same year, he gained induction into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame as part of their first class.[6]


  1. ^ a b Costello, Rory. "Willard Brown". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  2. ^ Negro league baseball players association Archived 2011-01-02 at the Wayback Machine -Retrieved 09 May 2011
  3. ^ National league baseball emuseum
  4. ^ Eig, Jonathan. Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. p.188 ISBN 978-0-7432-9461-4
  5. ^ a b c Baseball Hall of Fame -Retrieved 09 May 2011; Permission to link policy
  6. ^ Baseball Hall of Fame eball Reference Bullpen – Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

External links

1942 Negro World Series

The 1942 Negro World Series was a best-of-seven match-up between the Negro American League champion Kansas City Monarchs and the Negro National League champion Washington-Homestead Grays. In a six-game series, the Monarchs swept the Grays four games to none, with two additional games not counted in the standings. The Monarchs actually won the 1942 series 5-1, but a second game played in Yankee Stadium on September 13 (a seven-inning victory by the Monarchs) was not counted by prior agreement, and the only game played in Kansas City was thrown out on appeal when the Grays used unauthorized players from other NNL teams.

It was the first World Series between eastern and western Negro Leagues champions since 1927, resuming after a 14-year lapse since the collapse of the Eastern Colored League had ended the previous post-season meetings. The series featured seven members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, three from the Monarchs (Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown) and four from the Grays (Josh Gibson, Jud Wilson, Ray Brown, and Buck Leonard). One additional Hall of Famer, Leon Day, played in one of the games that was not counted, Monarchs legend Bullet Rogan umpired in that same game.

The Monarchs and Grays had met during the regular season in two exhibition games, in which the Grays had twice defeated Monarch ace Satchel Paige in extra innings. Some of the pre-Series publicity had concentrated on whether Paige would be seeking revenge for his losses or whether the Grays truly held a "jinx" over him and would continue to dominate him. Paige pitched in all four official games and earned one victory and one save.

This was the Grays' first appearance ever in the Negro World Series, though this was their third consecutive NNL pennant, and fifth in six seasons. They would appear in the next three CWS, winning in 1943 and '44. It was the third appearance by the Monarchs (going back to 1924) in the CWS, their second championship, and their fifth NAL pennant in six seasons. They would appear one more time, losing to the Newark Eagles in 1946.

1946 Negro World Series

In the 1946 Negro World Series, the Newark Eagles, champions of the Negro National League, beat the Kansas City Monarchs, champions of the Negro American League, four games to three.

1947 Boston Red Sox season

The 1947 Boston Red Sox season was the 47th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 83 wins and 71 losses.

1947 Major League Baseball season

The 1947 Major League Baseball season, on opening day, the New York Giants were at the Phillies, the Yankees were home in the Bronx against the Philadelphia A's and the Brooklyn Dodgers were home to open against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field.

Jackie Robinson was in the Dodgers lineup, playing first base. This began a new chapter in Major League Baseball, as it was the first time an African American had been allowed to play in the league. There were more than 26,000 fans at Ebbets Field that day.

1947 St. Louis Browns season

The 1947 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 59 wins and 95 losses.

1947 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1947 throughout the world.

1951 Caribbean Series

The third edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 1951. The Series inauguration on February 21 was delayed due to heavy rain and it was held from February 22 through February 26, including two double-headers on February 25, featuring the champion baseball teams of Cuba, Leones del Habana; Panama, Spur Cola Colonites; Puerto Rico, Cangrejeros de Santurce, and Venezuela, Navegantes del Magallanes. The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice, and the games were played at Cervecería Caracas Stadium in Caracas, Venezuela.

1952 Western Michigan Broncos football team

The 1952 Western Michigan Broncos football team represented Western Michigan College of Education (later renamed Western Michigan University) in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) during the 1952 college football season. In their 11th and final season under head coach John Gill, the Broncos compiled a 4–4 record (1–4 against MAC opponents), finished in sixth place in the MAC, and were outscored by their opponents, 159 to 154. The team played its home games at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan.Quarterback Chuck Higgins was the team captain. Halfback Willard Brown received the team's most outstanding player award.In December 1952, coach Gill became the school's associate athletic director; Jack Petoskey, who had been an assistant coach, became the school's new head football coach.

1953 Caribbean Series

The fifth edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 1953. It was held from February 20 through February 25, featuring the champion baseball teams of Cuba, Leones de la Habana; Panama, Chesterfield Smokers; Puerto Rico, Cangrejeros de Santurce, and Venezuela, Leones del Caracas. The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice. The games were played at Estadio del Cerro in Havana, the Cuban capital.

2006 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2006 proceeded in keeping with rules enacted in 2001, augmented by a special election; the result was the largest class of inductees (18) in the Hall's history, including the first woman elected. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) held an election to select from among recent players. The Veterans Committee did not hold an election; the 2001 rules changes provided that elections for players retired over 20 years would be held every other year, with elections of non-players (managers, umpires and executives) held every fourth year. The Committee voted in 2005 on players who were active no later than 1983; there was no 2005 election for non-players. Elections in both categories were held in 2007.

On July 26, 2005, the Hall announced that its board of directors had approved a special election to be held in 2006, by the Committee on African-American Baseball, of Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues candidates.

Induction ceremonies in Cooperstown were held July 30 with Commissioner Bud Selig presiding.

Anderson Hunt Brown

Anderson Hunt Brown (1880 – 1974), was an American businessman. He was a very successful African-American man in West Virginia. A.H. Brown worked on behalf of citizens and residents of the Charleston Independent School District for the integration of public schools in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1928.

In 1928, the high court desegregated the Charleston library in a for A. H. Brown. Willard L. Brown, the son of A. H. Brown, was the lead lawyer for the West Virginia NAACP in the historic U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation ruling in 1954. Generally known as Brown v. Board of Education, the far-reaching case included West Virginia and 16 other states, and the District of Columbia.

Anderson Brown was a and Civil Rights activist. His real estate included primary locations of many of the original businesses in The Block. Mr.Brown was one of the petitioners in a West Virginia lawsuit "Brown vs Kanawha County Board of Education" over the denial of black persons to use the Kanawha County Public Library (West Virginia's own Brown vs Board of Education, like that of the famous Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, KS).

Anderson Hunt Brown was born in 1880 to former slaves, Henry Arnold Brown & Margaret Stewart Brown. They were freed in 1865 and located in an area known as Dutch Holler, now part of Dunbar WV, where Anderson Hunt Brown was born. Because of the death of a brother, Anderson Brown acquired from his estate some resources to begin going into some form of business for himself. He got into the meat market business as a butcher. He was later able to buy the meat market and began renting a house he owned. Mr. Brown fathered two children – Willard Brown, who became an attorney and Della Brown Taylor Hardman, who was an artist and became a professor at West Virginia State University.

Anderson Hunt Brown, in partnership with Gurnett E. Ferguson, who built the Ferguson Hotel (an African American hotel) on Washington Street, Anderson Brown constructed a building during the middle to late twenties. The original Brown Building adjoined the Ferguson Hotel were two of the major social and economic centers in “The Block”. It was a residential, social, economic, educational and religious center of the African-American population of the city during Jim Crow laws and segregation, as well as the home for other ethnic groups.

In the 1960s a fire partially destroyed the Ferguson Hotel on Washington Street adjoining the original Brown Building. As a result, Mr. Ferguson sold to another hotel business. A second Brown Building located on Shrewsbury Street was built and completed in 1971. Work on the building was done entirely by African American businesses, contractors, and sub-contractors. For a few years before his death in 1974, Mr. Anderson Brown maintained an office in the new building, along with his Attorney son, Willard Brown and his daughter, Della Brown Taylor. Other offices have included a barber shop, doctor's office, real estate office, and some government offices.

Mr. Anderson H. Brown was a civil rights leader in the community who was first involved in a 1928 lawsuit against the Board of Education and the Kanawha Public Library for denying African Americans access to the public library and later with the NAACP locally and nationally. Mr. Brown with the Charleston WV branch of the NAACP initiated a lawsuit against the school district and the library when three African American citizens were refused entry to the public library. They were refused the books, papers and magazines and the right to sit in the library. The original case was brought before the Circuit Court judge in Kanawha County and the judge ruled that the Board was not in violation of the law. The African American lawyers, along with Anderson H. Brown, took the case to the West Virginia State Supreme Court of Appeals. “The Supreme Court ruled in Anderson Brown's favor by saying that – 'the Board of Education could not exclude colored people from using the Kanawha County Library”.

Caribbean Series Most Valuable Player

The Caribbean Series Most Valuable Player is an annual award, given to one outstanding player in the Caribbean Series. Since 1949, it has been awarded by journalists of the countries participating in the tournament.

Center fielder

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Dalmiro Finol

Dalmiro Finol [dahl-mee'-roh / fe-nohl'] (August 21, 1919 – May 16, 1994) was a Venezuelan professional baseball player. Finol batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Barrancas, Zulia State.

A versatile utility man, Finol was able to play all positions except pitcher and catcher, playing mainly at right field and first base. Basically a line-drive hitter and a fine defensive player, he started his career in the Venezuelan League in 1946 with the Cervecería Caracas club, playing for the franchise in nine of his 11 professional seasons, often as its fourth batter. He also spent part of two seasons with the Gavilanes (1953–1954) and Magallanes (1955–1956) teams.

Although he never played in American baseball, Finol teamed with major league figures as Willard Brown, Alex Carrasquel, Chico Carrasquel, Wilmer Fields, Jim Pendleton and Len Yochim, among others.

As a rookie, he led the circuit with seven home runs, becoming the first player to win the league's home run title. In the midseason, he also became the first player to hit a grand slam in the league's history.

Finol later led the league with 35 RBI in the 1947–1948 season. His most productive effort came in the 1953–1954 tournament, when he posted career-highs in home runs (10), RBI (47) and games played (70). He also had two good seasons, hitting .320 in 1948–1949 and .365 in 1951–1952.

In an 11-season career, Finol batted a .278 average (475-for-1706) with 48 home runs and 296 RBI in 471 games, including 241 runs, 73 doubles, three triples, and 35 stolen bases.

Finol died in 1994 in Maracaibo, Zulia, at the age of 74.

Hank Presswood

Henry 'Hank' Presswood (October 7, 1921 – December 27, 2014) was an infielder who played in the Negro American League. He batted and threw right handed.Born in Electric Mills, Mississippi, Presswood played sandlot ball before joining the Mill City Jitterbugs club in 1936 and 1937 and later the Denkman All-Stars in Canton, Mississippi from 1938 through 1944.Afterwards, Presswood served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947 during World War II conflict, then returned briefly to the Denkman All-Stars. Content with playing locally, it was not until after he received an offer to play in the Negro Leagues. Presswood then was assigned to the Cleveland Buckeyes in 1948 and immediately he was installed as their shortstop, playing alongside such greats as Webbo Clarke, Sam Jethroe and Sam 'Toothpick' Jones.It was a great step for the 26-year old rookie while joining the lineup of the defending champions of the Negro American League, just one year after Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, Willard Brown and Dan Bankhead had broken the color barrier in the Major Leagues.

Presswood played with the Buckeyes until they folded in the 1950 season. Following a year off, he was picked up by the Kansas City Monarchs, who were managed by the legendary Buck O’Neil. Presswood played with the Monarchs as a third baseman from 1952 to 1953, in a time when Ernie Banks was their regular shortstop. O’Neil gave Presswood the nickname of 'Baby', which stuck with him well after his career was over. Besides, O’Neil also served as his mentor both on and off the field.When his baseball days came to an end, Preswood settled in Chicago, Illinois where he worked at the Inland Steel Company and played fast-pitch softball for the company team, retiring after 30 years of work.Preswood received his due recognition as an octogenarian in 2008, when Major League Baseball staged a Special Draft of the surviving Negro League players, doing a tribute for those living Negro Leaguers who were kept out of the Big Leagues because of their race. Hall of Fame Baseball player Dave Winfield hatched the idea to have this draft while MLB clubs each selected a former NLB player. As a result, Preswood was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a shortstop/third baseman.Two years later in 2010, The Topps Company honored him with a baseball card in their Allen & Ginter set, as he remarked about finally having a rookie card.In his later years, Presswood became a spokesperson for the Negro Leagues, attending numerous events and telling people baseball fans and hardball history enthusiasts with tales and remembrances of his playing days. He died in 2014 in Chicago at the age of 93.

Kansas City Monarchs

The Kansas City Monarchs were the longest-running franchise in the history of baseball's Negro Leagues. Operating in Kansas City, Missouri and owned by J. L. Wilkinson, they were charter members of the Negro National League from 1920 to 1930. J. L. Wilkinson was the first Caucasian owner at the time of the establishment of the team. In 1930, the Monarchs became the first professional baseball team to use a portable lighting system which was transported from game to game in trucks to play games at night, five years before any major league team did. The Monarchs won ten league championships before integration, and triumphed in the first Negro League World Series in 1924. The Monarchs had only one season in which they did not have a winning record. After sending more players to the major leagues than any other Negro League franchise, the team was finally disbanded in 1965.

List of Negro league baseball players

This list comprises players who have appeared in Negro league baseball.

Porter Kilbert

Porter Kilbert (June 10, 1921 – October 23, 1960) was a jazz alto and tenor saxophonist.

In September 1942, he replaced Preston Love as lead alto saxophonist in Nat Towles' band, before going on to spend two years with Benny Carter's band, playing in line-ups including Willard Brown, Curly Russell, Max Roach, Oscar Bradley, Ulysses Livingston, Sonny White, Teddy Brannon, Bumps Myers, Gene Porter, Alton Moore, J.J. Johnson, Shorty Haughton, Claude Dunson, Snooky Young, Freddie Webster, Gerald Wilson, and Jake Porter.After a brief spell with Roy Eldridge's band, he joined Red Saunders' band in New York in September 1946. The band later took up residency at Chicago's Club DeLisa, and Kilbert would remain with the Saunders band until January 1952, when he left to form his own band.

In December 1946, he was in a line-up led by Coleman Hawkins, recording for Prestige, with Fats Navarro, Milt Jackson, JJ Johnson, Hank Jones, Curley Russell and Max Roach.In 1947, he led an orchestra backing Clarence Samuels recording for Aristocrat.

In 1954, he was a member of the Horace Henderson big band and in 1955 and 1956, he participated in a series of "battles of the saxes" with Tom Archia at the C&C Lounge.

In 1960, having recorded the previous year for bandleader Quincy Jones, featuring as soloist on some of the tracks, he toured Europe with Jones' big band (with fellow altoist Phil Woods).

William Brown (baseball)

William M. Brown (1866 in San Francisco, California – December 20, 1897 in San Francisco, California), nicknamed "Big Bill", was a Major League Baseball player who played infielder from 1887-1894. He played for the New York Giants, New York Giants (PL), Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, and Louisville Colonels.

In 1895, Brown developed a problem with his lungs. He travelled to Hawaii, southern California, and Arizona in an effort to find a climate that would be more beneficial for his health, but his efforts were unsuccessful, and he died as a result of his condition at home in San Francisco in 1897.

Veterans Committee
Committee on
African-American Baseball
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
Ford C. Frick Award
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
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