- May 21, 1909
- 6' 1"
- 190 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 5-21-1935 with PIT
Mace Brown was a javelin thrower who attended the University of Iowa on a track scholarship. He took a two year hiatus from his baseball career to serve in the Navy in World War II. After retiring as a player, he was a scout and instructor for the Boston Red Sox from 1947-64. He was the pitching coach for the 1965 and then returned to his scout role for the club until 1979. He was responsible for discovering Jim Rice. From 1979 to 1989 he served as a consultant to the Red Sox.
It was only one pitch, one pitch that unfortunately became the signature moment of his time in the majors, just like it was for Ralph Branca, Ralph Terry and Mitch Williams. No matter how successful Mace Brown’s career was, it was a 0-2 curve that hung too much that he would be always remembered for. Even in the obituary for Mace, it was the main subject line, the man who threw the home run ball to Gabby Hartnett, costing the Bucs the 1938 National League pennant.
Like the others, his career was much more successful than that. He came up with the Pirates in 1935 and while also being a spot starter, was one of the first men to make his living primarily as a pure reliever.
Brown led the NL twice in saves while with Pittsburgh, once in 1937 and once in 1940, but his marquis season had to be in 1938. The Pirates were riding the wave that looked like they would be the easy winners of the senior circuit pennant. They had a seven game lead going into September and Mace was a big part of it. He eventually won 15 games that year out of the pen and was selected to the 1938 all-star game; the first pure reliever ever accorded such an honor.
As September went on, the Chicago Cubs caught fire and as the two clubs met for an end of season 3-game series, where their lead had been cut to 1-½ games. After losing the first contest, the Bucs had come into the second tied up with the Cubs 5-5 in the eighth inning. Brown was in a bases loaded jam in the eighth, which he got out of thanks to an inning ending double play. He got two quick outs in the ninth as darkness was falling and there certainly wasn’t much baseball left to be played. Up came catcher Gabby Hartnett that Brown fooled on two curve balls moving the count to 0-2. He decided to go with what was working and threw Hartnett another curve. This one hung, hung up for Hartnett to belt it out of the park, giving the Cubs the game with the famous “Homer in the Gloamin’”. The Bucs would never recover and lost the ’38 pennant in the process.
For Brown, he went on to have a couple decent years with the Pirates before being sold to the Dodgers in 1941, but was never the same. Despite the fact he pitched with Brooklyn for 4 ½ months that summer, they voted to have Brown not receive his share of the World Series money from the team. Like Terry, Branca and Williams after him, it would be one pitch, one pitch that I’m sure if he had one wish would yank the ball out of the air and put it back into his hands, that he would be forever known for in the history of the game.
* NL All-Star (1938)
* 2-time League Games Pitched Leader (1938/NL & 1943/AL)
* 2-time NL Saves Leader (1937 & 1940)
* 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1938)
* 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1939)
* National League pennant: 1941
* American League pennant: 1946
* Pittsburgh Pirates (1935-1941)
* Brooklyn Dodgers (1941)
* Boston Red Sox (1942-1943, 1946)
BR bullpen, Wikipedia
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