the infamous Dave “Lefty” Brown.
Gary Ashwill has uncovered some very interesting information about the Negro League pitcher, posted over at agatetype. For the uninitiated, Brown was an outstanding left-hander in the early 1920s. Hall of Famer Rube Foster had supposedly posted bail for the troubled young man and gave him an opportunity in professional baseball.
After a couple stellar seasons, Brown jumped Foster’s Chicago American Giants and took his glove to the New York Lincoln Giants. In April of 1925, after a late night out drinking with teammates, Brown allegedly shot and killed one Benjamin Adair during an altercation on a sidewalk. He immediately fled the Big Apple and later resurfaced under an alias, pitching for integrated semi-pro teams in the upper Midwest and Great Plains. One of the teams he supposedly pitched for was the Pipestone (MN) Black Sox. Old newspaper clippings have been uncovered, raving about the strikeout feats of a mysterious left-hander.
Finally, after 13 years on the run, Brown resurfaces in Greensboro, NC. He was arrested for hitting a white man over the head with a sandbag and stealing $4. Local authorities connected the dots and quickly notified the New York authorities, letting them know they believed they might have a wanted fugitive. You won’t believe how this all came about, and what happened to Brown next…
Theatrical suggestion: For some reason, I like to picture Barney Fife nervously making the arrest there in Greensboro, with Andy Griffith taking the responsible tack and contacting the big city boys in New York. I’m not great with geography, but Greensboro’s near Mt. Pilot, ain’t it? And inside the jail cell? Slick talking Dave Brown and Otis the Drunk, playing cards. Aunt Bea stops by to deliver some warm apple pie for the two prisoners.
Quick Note: For the Strat-O-Matic fanatics who lurk around this site, Dave Brown will indeed be included in our new set, scheduled for release very, very soon. Keep checking the company website for additional details.
Other Note: In The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, James has Dave Brown listed as his “O.J. Simpson Award” winner in the Negro League section. In light of the newly discovered information, his selection seems more appropriate than ever.