Ray Brown

Positions: Pitcher; Outfielder; Manager
Teams Include: Dayton Marcos, Indianapolis ABCs, Detroit Wolves, Homestead Grays, 1930-1948

Ray Brown was the best pitcher on the Homestead Grays during the years when they were one of the powerhouse teams of all time, winning eight pennants from 1937 to 1945. A fine athlete, he often filled in as a switch-hitting pinch-hitter.

Pitching for the Homstead Grays, Brown fired a one-hit shutout in the 1944 Negro League World Series.
Pitching for the Homestead Grays, Brown
fired a one-hit shutout in the 1944
Negro League World Series.

Born in Alger, Ohio, Ray Brown (1908-1965) attended college on a basketball scholarship, but soon moved to the Negro Leagues. His pitching repertoire wasn’t limited, but his curveball is what the old-timers talk about. He had such confidence in his bender that he would routinely baffle batters by throwing it even on a 3-0 count.

His most famous performance was probably the one-hit shutout he threw against the Birmingham Black Barons in the 1944 World Series. He also fired a seven-inning perfect game in 1945. He appeared in two East-West All-Star Games (and probably could have been chosen for a few more), starting the 1935 contest.

Brown had more than his pitching talent going for him; he married Grays owner Cum Posey’s daughter in a 1935 Fourth of July home plate ceremony. Despite the nepotistic ties, Brown’s talents were the perfect fit for the team he played on.

The 1938 Grays may have been the best NL team ever. Late that season, the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper, made a famous recommendation to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sign these Grays, and you’ll be guaranteed the National League pennant: Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, and Ray Brown. Each of these players is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Brown was 12-3 with Homestead in 1935, 7-0 in 1938, and a fearsome 24-4 in 1940. In 1941, he posted a winning streak of 27, and went 10-4 with a 2.72 ERA in league battles. Like many Negro Leaguers, he pitched in Latin America in the off-season. In three such seasons with Santa Clara in the Cuban League, he piled up 44 victories in just 68 games. His performances in Puerto Rico were no less outstanding, with two 7-0 seasons bracketing an 11-7 one before a 12-4 campaign. He also won two ERA titles with eye-popping 1.05 and 1.80 numbers.

Brown did not pitch for another U.S. team after 1945. He preferred to pitch in Mexico and Canada. In 1951, he spent much of his time as an outfielder for Sherbrooke in the Canadian Provincial League, the team that won the provincial championship. Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Special Committee on Negro Leagues in 2006.

Here are Ray Brown's Negro League statistics*:


*Note: Brown's career statistics are incomplete.

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