Mace Stanley Brown
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Mace Brown's career spanned pitching, coaching and scouting for his beloved Boston Red Sox. In his rookie season, he witnessed history -- the last home run of slugger Babe Ruth.
Brown died March 24, 2002 at the age of 92 and, in fitting style, was buried in his Red Sox uniform.
Baseball wasn't always his top sport. Brown enrolled at the University of Iowa on a track scholarship, but he was interested in baseball and liked to spend his spare time on the diamond. He caught the attention of the school's baseball coach and his new sport was born. He became a standout catcher, but his coach once again happened to catch him throwing a curve ball and it was another position change for Brown.
Following the 1929 season, he played in a semi-pro league. Once the conference found out Brown had accepted money for playing baseball, his collegiate career was over.
Brown was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1930, but it was with Pittsburgh, Brooklyn and Boston that he would contribute during his 10-year career. He finished with a 76-57 record and 48 saves in 387 games, compiling a 3.47 ERA. He played in the World Series with the Dodgers in 1941 and the Red Sox in 1946. He pitched in one inning in the 1946 series, allowing 3 earned runs on 4 hits.
One of his best seasons came in 1938 when Brown posted a 15-9 record, appearing in a league-leading 51 games, and posted a 3.80 ERA. He finished 9th in the MVP voting that season and also appeared in the All-Star Game.
However, on September 28, 1938, Brown surrendered the "homer in the gloaming" to Cubs manager Gabby Hartnett. The homer broke a 5-5 time in the bottom of the ninth and moved the Cubs into first place ahead of the Pirates. Brown had 2 outs when he faced Hartnett and the umpires were planning to call the game because of darkness after Hartnett's at-bat.
He led the league in games pitched again in 1943 with 49. He posted 7 saves in both the 1937 and 1940 seasons, enough to lead the league.
Brown served in the Navy from 1944-45 and returned to the Red Sox in 1946 to post a 3-1 record and 2.05 ERA in 18 appearances.
"Johnny Mize was the toughest hitter for me to get out," Brown said in an interview. "He was a left-handed hitter with a smooth swing and could really smack the ball. He had a great eye. You couldn't fool him."
As a rookie with the Pirates, Brown was there on May 25, 1935 when Babe Ruth hit his last three home runs. After Ruth hit his third home run, he headed for the showers and had to pass through the Pirates' dugout to get there. Ruth spotted an empty seat on the Pirates bench and sat down next to Brown.
"I'll never forget it. He sat down on our bench right beside me. 'Boys', he says, 'that last one felt good.'", Brown said in an interview with the Greensboro News and Record in 1998. Ruth played in his last game just a few days later on May 30, 1935.
Brown joined the Red Sox as a scout and instructor in 1947 and performed the job until 1965 when he joined the big league club's coaching staff for a year. He returned to scouting in 1966 and stayed until he retired at the age of 80 in 1990. As a scout, he was the man who took a look at Jim Rice and signed him after the club took him in the first round of the 1971 draft.
Sources: Baseball Encyclopedia, Associated Press