Coal Miner’s Son (with a Rifle Arm)

 

The Glove Club: Larry Brown

Larry Brown was an excellent infielder who rarely hit and even more rarely struck out. He made contact often enough that you could count on his bat to advance the runner, but probably not drive that runner in.

What kept Brown in the major leagues for a dozen years was his skill in the field.

Larry Brown played 12 seasons in the major leagues, nine with the team that signed him, the Cleveland Indians. He was considered a superb fielding shortstop with a rifle arm.

A West Virginia native (and yes, his father was a miner) and Florida transplant, Brown was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1958. He made his big league debut in Yankee Stadium in 1963, pinch hitting (and striking out) for Tito Francona. Three weeks after his debut, Brown became the unlikely holder of a shared home run record. On July 31, three Indians – Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos and Francona – hit consecutive solo home runs off Los Angeles Angels pitcher Paul Foytack. The next batter was Brown, and he hit the fourth home run in a row, a major league record off one pitcher.

Brown batted .255 in 74 games over the rest of 1963, and hit four more home runs that season. He spent the 1964 season batting .230 with a career-best 12 home runs as a utility infielder (who excelled as a second baseman as well as a shortstop), eventually replacing Dick Howser as the Indians’ everyday shortstop starting in the 1965 campaign.

Brown remained the Indians’ starting shortstop for the next six years. He batted .236 during that period, averaging seven home runs and 32 RBIs per season. His best year as a hitter was 1965, when he batted .255 with 40 RBIs.

In 1963, Larry Brown was the fourth consecutive Cleveland Indian to hit a solo home run off Los Angeles Angels pitcher Paul Foytack. The other three were Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos and Tito Francona.

In 1971 the Indians sold Brown to the Oakland Athletics. After a pair of sub-.200 seasons with the A’s, Brown spent his last two major league seasons as a utility infielder for the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.

Brown retired with 803 hits and a career batting average of .233.

 

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6 comments
    • Bad memory on my part. Of course, you’re correct. I always think of Foytack as a Tiger, not an Angel. But no excuse. Thanks for keeping me honest.

      • I love your blog. Keep up the good work. I am anal about ‘60’s baseball. I dread that someday one of my grandkids will wake me up at 2 am and ask me who was leading the NL in triples on June 15, 1962.

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