Bobby Brown, Yankee Infielder Turned Cardiologist, Is Dead at 96

Bobby Brown, the Yankee infielder who played on four World Cup teams during his medical career, quit baseball to start a cardiology practice at age 29, and later was president of the American League, died Thursday at his home in Fort Worth. He was 96 years old.

The death was confirmed by his daughter Kaydee Bailey.

Brown usually missed spring training because of his college education and was often cast by manager Casey Stengel, but he proved to be a pivotal figure on the plate for the Yankees when October hit. He averaged 0.439 with 18 hits, including five doubles and three triples, while appearing in the World Series each year, but only one from 1947 to 1951.

Brown received a medical degree from Tulane University in 1950 and left the Yankees in the summer of 1952 to serve in the Army during the Korean War.

“My unit landed in Incheon, Korea on October 1, 1952, the first day of the World Series,” he told Baseball Digest in 2003. “It was the worst day of my life.” I trudge up a wharf a quarter of a mile and everything I have on my back goes to Korea. My team plays in the World Series. My wife had our first baby when I was flying over the Pacific. “

Brown became a battalion surgeon near the front lines and later served in an army hospital in Tokyo.

He was fired in April 1954 and played occasionally for the Yankees in the spring. He retired in July after eight seasons with a career hit average of .279.

Brown completed his training as a cardiologist in 1958 and opened a practice in Fort Worth. Aside from a few months hiatus in 1974 when he was interim president of Texas Rangers, he remained in medical practice until he became president of the American League in 1984 – a post that was primarily about getting players for their run-ins discipline the referees he oversaw.

Robert William Brown was born on October 25, 1924 in Seattle to William and Myrtle (Berg) Brown. His father, who played semi pro baseball, encouraged Bobby to play ball. As a teenager, he and his family moved to San Francisco and played sandlot baseball there Jerry Coleman and Charlie Silverawho would become his teammates on the Yankees.

Brown joined the Navy in 1943, playing for Stanford, UCLA and Tulane while beginning his medical training in an officer training program for World War II.

He signed a bonus of an estimated $ 50,000 or more with the Yankee Organization in 1946. That year he played shortstop for the Yankees’ Newark Bears Farm team, hitting .341 and making his Major League debut towards the end of the season.

Big money and his blonde hair earned him the nickname Golden Boy.

Joe Page, the Yankees’ star reliever, called him “Quack”.

But Brown dispelled any doubts his teammates might have had. As a left-hander, he struck against 300 in both 1947 and ’48, mostly against Billy Johnson, the third baseman, and Phil Rizzuto, the shortstop, both right-handed.

Brown went 3 to 3 with a walk as a pinch hitter in the 1947 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers and his double-tied game 7 in the fourth inning when the Yankees finally took the lead. In the 1949 series against the Dodgers, the first of five straight championships for the Yankees, Brown went 6 to 12. In the 1950 series, he doubled in the fourth inning of the opener against the Phillies in Philadelphia and scored the only run of the game.

But a career in medicine beckoned. The way was long; He did not complete his cardiology training until he had been out of Yankees uniform for four years.

Brown later succeeded Lee MacPhail, a former Yankees executive, as president of the American League.

In a 1983 interview with George Vecsey In the New York Times, Brown spoke about the challenges he faced as a doctor and his decision to reenter the baseball world full time in the American League.

“When you are on duty, you are really on duty,” he said. “The calls can come at any time. Making plans is an exercise in frustration. I am 59 years old. I’ve been doing this for 26 years and haven’t seen myself doing it for more than a few years. You’re getting tired. “

He continued, “I didn’t see myself as an administrative clerk while running a rehabilitation center or anything like that. I knew I was too young to stop working, but one of the problems when I am a doctor is that you really aren’t trained to do anything else. “

“I really wasn’t ready to give up my practice,” he said, “but the league presidency was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

In June 1988, Brown became imposed a three-game ban and a $ 1,000 fine on Billy Martin, the Yankees manager, and his former teammate for pelting dirt at a referee who dumped him after an argument over a phone call.

He resigned as league president in 1994.

In his later years, Brown returned to Yankee Stadium on Classic Car Day and eventually got along with one of the event’s senior Yankees Yogi Berrawho had been his roommate on road trips. This pairing spawned the oft-told (and possibly true) story of Berra telling him to let him know how his book turned out while Brown was going over his medical volumes one night.

In addition to his daughter, Mrs. Bailey, Mr. Brown survived another daughter, Beverley Dale; a son, Pete, a doctor; 10 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. His wife Sara (French) Brown, whom he married in 1951, died in 2012.

In his book, Summer of ’49 (1989), David Halberstam wrote of the press conference announcing Brown’s signing: “Larry MacPhail, one of the Yankee owners, had spoken so extravagantly about his talents – what a good young man he was and what a brilliant young doctor he would be – that Will Wedge of The Sun finally asked, “Larry, do you sign him as a player or a doctor?”

Brown spoke in an interview with The Sporting News in June 1949 of his dual pursuits to distinguish himself in major league baseball and medicine.

“As long as baseball wants me, I’ll want baseball,” he said. “There will inevitably be a day when I have to say to myself, ‘The time has come. Hang up your spines and your uniform, put the bats aside, and get down to work on Hippocrates’ oath. ‘“

When trying to become president of the American League, Brown was asked by The Times if he had ever wondered what kind of player he would have been if he had played baseball full-time.

He replied, “I ask it every day.”

Alex Traub contributed to the coverage.

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