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Ike Brown

Topps baseball card - 1972 Series, #284]]
Utility player
Born: April 13, 1942(1942-04-13)
Memphis, Tennessee
Died: May 17, 2001 (aged 59)
Memphis, Tennessee
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 17, 1969 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
May 4, 1974 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average     .256
Home runs     20
Runs batted in     65

Isaac (Ike) Brown (April 13, 1942 - May 17, 2001) was an infielder/outfielder in the Negro Leagues and a utilityman in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers from 1969 through 1974. He batted and threw right-handed.

In a six-season major league career, Brown posted a .256 batting average with 20 home runs and 65 RBI in 280 games played.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Brown was obtained by Detroit from the Kansas City Monarchs in 1961. He had originally signed with the Cardinals for $800.

Brown spent eight years in the minor leagues, making it to the majors in 1969 after hitting .356 of that season for Triple-A Toledo and hitting two home runs against the Tigers during an exhibition game. His first major league hit was a home run at Yankee Stadium.

In the minors, Brown once played all nine positions in a single game. For Detroit, he was the consummate utilityman playing in all infield and outfield positions except center field, though he once referred to himself as a "designated sitter." Brown was often called on to pinch-hit, batting .320 in that role between 1970 and 1971. He also contributed to the Tigers' American League East title in 1972, collecting a hit and two RBI in two at-bats against Oakland.

Although mostly a part-time player with Detroit, Brown became a popular and recognizable figure in Motown because of his trademark glasses and unusually burly build. He was often mistakenly identified as the brother of roommate Gates Brown, to whom he bore no relation. According Gates, Ike would wake up every morning saying, "It's a beautiful day" whether it was or not.

Career highlights include:

At the time of his retirement from the Tigers in 1974, Brown was one of the last alumni of the Negro Leagues (along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays) still active in major league baseball.

Brown died from cancer in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 59.

Historic Quote

  • "The situation of the Negro in baseball is not as equitable as it seems. He still has to be better than his white counterparts to do as well. I recall a story Mike Marshall told about a guy named Ike Brown, who hit .300 for a number of years in Triple-A and was the International League All-Star third baseman for a couple of years. He drove in a lot of runs, too, but was never even invited to spring training by the Tigers. Mike says that the fact that he was black must have had a lot to do with it. 'How many Negroes on the Detroit club?' Mike said. 'Earl Wilson, Gates Brown and Willie Horton. Two stars, and Brown is the best pinch hitter in the business.'

"This brings up a point. There are a lot of Negro stars in the game. There aren't too many average Negro players. The obvious conclusion is that there is some kind of quota system. It stands to reason that if 19 of the top 30 hitters in the major leagues are black, as they were in 1968, then almost two thirds of the hitters should be black. Obviously it's not that way at all. In the case of the Tigers the fact that only three of their players are black is no less astonishing." -- Jim Bouton in Ball Four (August 14, 1969)




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