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Willard Brown

Willard Brown

Willard Jesse Brown

Nicknames: Home Run, Esse Hombre, Willie, Sonny

  • Bats:Right Throws: Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.
  • Positions:cf, lf, ss
  • Teams: Monroe Monarchs (1934) Kansas City Monarchs (1935-1943, 1946-1951), Mexican League (1940), military service (1944-1945), major leagues (1947), minor leagues (1950, 1953-1956)
  • Negro Leagues Debut Year:1934
  • Negro Leagues Final Year:1950
  • Born:June 26, 1911, Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Died:August 4, 1996, Houston, Texas
  • Hall of Fame: 2006

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.

Brown 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.

 

Negro Leagues Career Statistics

Year Team League G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA SLG
.
1935 Kansas City Monarchs independent 5 17 4 9 1 0 3 3 1 2 .529 1.118
1936 Kansas City Monarchs independent 3 10 3 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 .200 .200
1937 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 47 174 40 61 8 8 8 30 9 14 .351 .626
1938 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 32 118 20 41 8 3 4 16 16 7 .341 .568
1939 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 24 94 11 33 10 2 1 12 6 2 .351 .532
1940 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
1941 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 29 111 24 37 6 4 3 24 6 10 .333 .541
1942 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 36 147 28 50 7 3 5 28 3 9 .340 .531
1943 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 26 96 17 31 4 0 4 15 2 5 .323 .490
1944 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250
1945 military service
1946 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 58 230 47 80 21 7 5 42 13 6 .348 .565
1947 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 50 211 38 71 3 5 2 22 1 3 .336 .427
1948 Kansas City Monarchs NAL 66 262 65 98 20 5 18 13 24 .374 .695
.
Totals 13 seasons 378 1478 297 514 88 37 53 194 71 82 .348 .565
' Per 162 g 2.33 162 633 127 220 38 16 23 83 30 35 .348 .565

Source: Committee on African-American Baseball

By The Baseball Page

 

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