Topps baseball card - 1972 Series, #284
April 13, 1942|
|Died: May 17, 2001
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|June 17, 1969 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 4, 1974 for the Detroit Tigers|
|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.
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 to Gates, Ike would wake up every morning saying, "It's a beautiful day" whether it was or not.
Career highlights include:
- 2 home runs and 4 RBIs against George Brunet and the Washington Senators (May 23, 1970)
- six 3-hit games...the most impressive being two singles and a home run, good for 4 RBIs, vs. the California Angels (May 12, 1971)
- hit a combined .400 (20-for-50), with 7 home runs, against All-Stars Jim Kaat, Gary Peters, and Wilbur Wood
Brown died from cancer in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 59.
- "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)
- Clark, Dick; Lester, Larry (1994), The Negro Leagues Book, Cleveland, Ohio: Society for American Baseball Research, pp. 256–57, 259