Sunday, February 21, 2010

3. Dave "Lefty" Brown

When I first read Robert Peterson's ground breaking book on the negro leagues "Only The Ball Was White" I was fascinated by the story and grainy photograph of Dave "Lefty" Brown. Imagine a star with the fame and talent like Randy Johnson who also happened to be a convicted highway robber and who disappears at the peak of his career because he shot a guy in a drug deal and you have Dave Brown. I know I shouldn't celebrate such an unsavory character, but who can resist a story like that!

According to legend, manager Rube Foster secured Brown’s release from a Texas chain gang in order to sign him for his Chicago American Giants. Once free he became the ace of the pitching staff for Foster‘s powerful teams of the early 1920’s. His league records of 10-2, 11-3 and 8-3 for the years 1920-1922 show his dominance at this time. He had great speed and a good curve served up with superb control. Lefty is often named as the best left hander in Negro League history. Unfortunately trouble seemed to follow him around and in April 1925 he was accused of murdering a man on a New York City street during an argument. Brown disappeared the next day and rumors have him playing ball in small towns under assumed names with the F.B.I. hot on his trail. He may have been arrested in Greensboro, N.C. in 1938, or he may have died under shady circumstances in Denver.

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