Year Inducted: 1949 (Veterans Committee)
It seems like, ever since the Cubs won the World Series this year, there’s no escaping them. And, to be honest that’s a good thing. The Cubs championship was historic, and it’s good for baseball to have the World Series title bounce around a little bit, instead of dynasties forming strong holds on it. But, and this may surprise a lot of people, they have won the World Series before. Twice, in fact. In the late 1900’s, the Cubs were poised to become a dynasty. They had a strong double play combination and one of the best pitchers of all-time anchoring their staff. That was, of course, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.
Brown gained his nickname due to a farming accident from when he was a boy that resulted in him losing most of his right index finger, and an incident while hunting that resulted in his middle finger being bent and his pinky finger being paralyzed. This also resulted in an excellent curveball, which helped Brown achieve dominance in his 14-year career. Brown threw over 3100 innings in his career, notching 239 victories and an ERA of 2.06. Brown’s movement on the ball bewildered a lot of hitters and catchers, causing over 1300 strikeouts and 600 walks. Brown was adept at keeping men off base with a career WHIP of 1.07 and an average agaisnt of only .237.
Brown didn’t begin his playing career until he was 26 years old. As such, his shelf life as a dominant starter was short. From 1903-1911, Brown never had an ERA over 2.80 and only once carried an FIP higher than 3.00. He won no fewer than 15 games in all but one of those seasons, including winning 20 or more in the final six seasons of that stretch. It was also during that period that Brown and the Giants’ Christy Mathewson became rivals and would constantly face one another in great pitching performances. Brown hurt his knee during the 1912 season, which began a slow decline phase. Brown retired in 1916 after he and Mathewson (who would also retire after the season) faced off against one another one final time. Brown, despite losing the game, won the career battle against Mathewson 12-11 (one no decision).
Like many other players, a short career for Brown meant that he wasn’t going to be able to reach many milestone numbers like 300 wins. Still, in only 14 years he was able to put up a great ERA and racked up over 70 RA9-WAR. He had short lived dominance, but was absolutely deserving of the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next updates.
On deck 11/13/16:
#75- This second baseman’s control of the bat was simply magical.
#74- This outfielder for the Tigers and Reds was one of the most powerful right handed hitters of the 1920’s.