Brown was a longtime star with the Negro National League's Kansas City Monarchs.
He was nicknamed "Home Run" by Hall of Famer Josh Gibson for out-slugging Gibson
in their head-to-head
confrontations. He began as a shortstop for the Monroe, LA
Monarchs, and was later discovered by Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson.
Wilkinson offered Brown a $250 bonus, a $125-a-month salary, and $1 a day as meal
money. Brown accepted the increase over his $10-a-week stipend in Monroe.
matured into a complete and dangerous hitter. With Brown batting cleanup, the 1942
Monarchs routinely beat the Dizzy Dean All-Stars in exhibition games played in Chicago
and Buffalo. Brown played in the 1942 and 1946 Negro World Series, and hit a combined
.304 with three HR and 14 RBI.
Brown became a hero in Puerto Rico by winning three
home run and three batting titles from 1946 through 1950, earning the nickname "El
Hombre" - The Man. In 1947-48, he won the Triple Crown, hitting .432 with 27 HR and
86 RBI in 60 games.
While leading the NNL with a .372 average in the fall of 1947,
the 34-year-old Brown signed with the St. Louis Browns. He became the first black
player to hit a home run in the American League. But he felt the St. Louis club was
not as talented as the Monarchs: "The Browns couldn't beat the Monarchs no kind of
way, only if we was all asleep. That's the truth. They didn't have nothing. I said,
'Major league team? They got to be kidding.'" After playing only 21 games, and frustrated
with a .179 average, he quit the Browns because of racial pressures and the team's
lack of a winning attitude, and rejoined the Monarchs.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»September 26, 1889: After Buck Ewing hurts his thumb, Giants sub catcher Willard Brown makes a critical throwing error as New York loses to Chicago, 4–3. New York is now tied with Boston for the National League lead.
»November 23, 1889: Before what one writer claims is "the largest gathering in California history" (15,000 - 20,000), Oakland wins the California League pennant by beating San Francisco amid much confusion on the final day of the season. San Francisco tied for the pennant by winning three in a row, so for the final game Oakland hires ringers Willard Brown, George Van Haltran, and Cliff Carroll. San Francisco refuses to play so the ump awards the game to Oakland. To appease the crowd, the clubs play a game with their regular nines. Oakland wins, 5–4, behind 32-game winner Bill Coughlan.
»August 7, 1912: Browns manager-1B George Stovall makes seven assists, topping Willard Brown's record of six in a game for Louisville in 1893.