Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dr. Bobby Brown, Yankees Legend Who Lived A Remarkable Life

The Yankees' tribute to Dr. Brown. @Yankees.

The Yankees announced the sad news that Dr. Bobby Brown, who was a member of five championship teams in their glorious era in the 1940's and '50s, passed away on Thursday morning at the the age of 96 in Fort Worth, Texas.

To call him a Yankee legend only scratches the surface of his remarkable life, as Dr. Brown was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, President of the American League from 1984 to 1994, and a practicing cardiologist.

Dr. Brown, a left-handed hitting third baseman, played the entirety of his career with the Yankees, 1946-52 and 1954. The gap in his Yankee tenure, which meant he did not participate in the 1952 or 1953 World Series, was because he was called up by the Army medical corps in the middle of the 1952 season and was overseas during the Korean War for 19 months, not returning to the United States until April 28, 1954. He announced that he would take up a medical residency on July 1 at San Francisco City and County Hospital. 

When asked about this, he told United Press, "In the meantime, I would love to try and play for the Yankees before the residency begins. I am going to call them up and see if we can get together." The Yankees granted his wish, and he played in 28 games for the team in May and June before his retirement from baseball.

Known for being the road roommate of Yogi Berra and a frequent pinch-hitter, he was a part of Yankees championship teams in one of their greatest eras, 1947 and four straight from 1949-52. The left-handed hitting third baseman made his mark in the postseason, as he hit .439 (18-for-41) with nine RBI and a .500 on-base percentage in four World Series. His postseason batting average is the highest in Major League history with at least 35 plate appearances (including all rounds), and his on-base percentage ranks second only to Colby Rasmus' .571. In World Series play, only David Ortiz has a higher batting average, .455.

In the 1947 World Series  against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Brown appeared only as a pinch-hitter, reaching base safely in all four plate appearances, with a single, two doubles, and a walk. In the seventh game of the series, he hit a double in the fourth inning to tie the game at 2 and the Yankees went on to win the game, 5-2, and clinch the title.

Two years later, in the 1949 World Series, the Yankees beat Brooklyn in five games, and Brown was a a major part of it. He hit .500, with six hits in 12 at-bats, with one double, two triples, five RBI, two walks, four runs scored, and a .571 on-base percentage in four games played.

Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement released by the team, "Few people who have worn the pinstripes have lived such an accomplished, fulfilled, and wide-ranging life as Dr. Brown, who was beloved by our organization for his warmth, kindness, and character. He represented the pinstripes with elegance throughout his playing career and in subsequent decades as a frequent, welcome guest at Old Timers' Day. We also hold the utmost respect for the myriad of other accomplishments in his life - from service to our country, his stewardship of the American League and his longtime career as a cardiologist. The Yankees extend their deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones as we reflect on his incredible life."

Dr. Brown was born on October 25, 1924, in Seattle. He went to Galileo High School in San Francisco, which was also attended by Joe DiMaggio. Then, he went to Stanford University in 1942 and enlisted in the Army in 1943, serving stateside during World War II with assignments at UCLA, San Diego Naval Hospital, and Tulane University as he worked toward his medical degree. He signed with the Yankees in February 1946 and made his debut that September.

In May 1974, 20 years into his career as a cardiologist, he became president of the Texas Rangers, holding that position until the end of that season. Dr. Brown returned to his medical career, but remained on the Rangers Board of Directors until the team was sold to new owners in 1980. 

In 1984, he became president of the American League, a role he served in for a decade until 1994. 

One great quote from Dr. Brown, that really captured his life, came at his last Old Timers' Day appearance in 2019, which was provided by the Yankees. When he recalled what he suggested to his then-future wife to tell her parents about him, "Tell your mother that I'm in medical school, studying to be a cardiologist. Tell your dad that I play third base for the Yankees."

Dr. Brown's wife of more that 60 years, Sara, passed away in 2012. He is survived by his son, Dr. Pete Brown, daughters Beverly Dale and Kaydee Bailey, 11 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, and his entire extended family.

Dr. Brown was the last remaining Yankee to have played for the franchise prior to the 1951 season, and had been one of two living Major League players to have won a World Series prior to 1951.

Art Schallock is now the last living Yankee player from the franchise's five-year title run from 1949-53, and to play for the team before 1954. Schallock, born on April 25, 1924, six months before Brown, pitched in 28 games for the Yankees from 1951-55 and was on three championship teams, from 1951-53.

Eddie Robinson is now currently the oldest living Major League player and Yankee, as he played in The Bronx from 1954-56. he is now the last living Major League players to have won a World Series before 1951, as he was part of Cleveland's championship team in 1948 before winning another ring with the Yankees in 1956.

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