Few living New York Yankees fans know much about Bobby Brown, but you should. He was quite a guy, to put it mildly. He only played eight years for the Yankees and wasn’t their top player due to the megastars he played with, so he tends to get overlooked. Many of us see him as that old man at the Old Timers Day Game each year but know little about him.
Robert William Brown was born in 1924 in Seattle, Washington. There are few parallels in baseball that equal Bobby Brown. For the Yankees, he held down the hot corner for eight years. When you play for the Yankees, you don’t have a lot of free time, but Bobby, during his time with the Yankees, also studied to become a successful Cardiologist. He was an intelligent guy and knew he needed a job to fall back upon when his baseball days were over. Back then players weren’t set up for life, with the big contracts that are given out today. Bobby served in the military in 1953 in the Korean War before returning to the Yankees.
His baseball years
The “Golden boy” of the Yankees was a really good defender at third base. Many that recall his play say he was as good as Graig Nettles. He wasn’t a home run hitter but in his career, he was a lifetime .279 hitter with 22 home runs. He would have had better stats, but he only played in half of the games, as he shared the third base with Billy Johnson. It was common during the period for managers to platoon players. He played with the likes of Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Joe DiMaggio. Bobby and DiMaggio went to the same high school together.
Brown had a bases-loaded triple in Game 4 and a two-run triple in the championship-clinching Game 5 of the 1949 World Series. He tripled again in the final game of the 1950 World Series. All and all he was a champion in four World Series while batting .439 in seventeen games. In three of his eight Yankee years, he had a batting average over .300. I can think of many present-day Yankees that would love to have that batting average. At third base, he had a .948 fielding percentage and in the outfield a 1.000 fielding percentage.
A famous apocryphal story that has made the rounds for years in baseball circles concerns the time when Brown’s road roommate was star New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, who had little formal education. The two were reading in their hotel room one night, Berra, a comic book and Brown his copy of Boyd’s Pathology. Berra came to the end of his comic, tossed it aside, and asked Brown, “So, how is yours turning out?” Brown was a highly intelligent guy having attended Stanford, UCLA, and Tulane where he received his medical degree.
Life After Baseball
After Bobby Brown left baseball he opened his Cardiology practice in Forth Worth, Texas He took a leave from heart surgery in 1974 to become President of the Texas Rangers for a year, before returning to his practice. At the age of 60 he retired from medicine and became President of the American League, a position he held until he was 70. Since then he has been a regular at Yankee Old Timer’s Day celebrations. This amazing Yankee will be 96 this year. He is the last New York Yankee survivor of the 1947 and 1949 World Champion Series.
Now you know a bit more about Dr. Bobby Brown. We have lost so many of the Yankee greats in recent years, like Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Mel Stottlemyre, Don Larsen, Oscar Gamble, Bob Turley, and more. I hope Bobby makes it back to Yankee Stadium for the next Old Timer’s Day. With the coronavirus when that will be is questionable. I love seeing the Yankee guys that played during my childhood.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam