Friday, May 01, 2009

I Liked Ike: The "Other" Brown

Ike Brown was, for his entire Tigers career, the "other" Brown on the Detroit roster.

The more famous Brown was William "Gates" Brown, who thrilled Tigers fans with his pinch-hitting heroics. The Gator wasn't much of a fielder, so he decided that if he was going to stay in the big leagues it better be with the bat. The designated hitter rule, introduced in 1973, was made for guys like Gates Brown.

But what of Ike Brown, the jolly, happy-go-lucky utility man?

Ike Brown played for the Tigers from 1969-74, which was also the extent of his major league career. He tooled around in the minor leagues for about six years before finally debuting as a 27-year-old rookie.

Ike was mainly an outfielder, but he played many positions. In fact, Ike played them all, except pitcher and catcher, while wearing the Old English D.

I like Ike Brown because he was a free spirit. Kind of like the utility man version of Norm Cash: affable, goofy.

One of the Tigers yearbooks has a photo of Brown, having fun before the team picture was taken. He's got his head beneath the cloth shrowd attached to the camera, pretending to take the photo, with just a few players and coaches on the arranged benches in the outfield.

Then there's another snapshot of Brown reacting dramatically to a Tigers home run -- splayed out on the dugout steps, his hand on his head, as if he's fainted. And with a kidding grin on his face.

Ike never got more than 170 AB in any season, but his career numbers are the equivalent of one full big league campaign: 536 AB, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 90 BB, 130 K, .256 BA.

Yeah, Ike Brown had a little bit of power; in 1971, he had eight homers in just 110 AB.

Ike was a guy who was just happy to be in the big leagues. He didn't fuss, didn't complain about playing time, didn't grouse. Just putting on a big league uniform seemed to be enough for him.

The Tigers released him after the 1974 season, and at age 32, no one picked him up.

Sadly, Ike Brown died in 2001, at the young age of 59. He died in Memphis, TN, where he was also born.

He was one of those players I gravitated to, despite him not being a star. I suppose I was attracted to his fun-loving nature.

Ike Brown may not have captivated Tigers fans like Gates Brown did, but let those folks speak for themselves. I think I favored Ike.

Sorry, Gator. No offense.


Blogger tiger337 said...

I liked the other Brown too. I remember thinking they were brothers. I just learned now that Ike played in the Negro Leagues as a teen.

8:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home