AN ARTICLE FROM THE BASEBALL MAGAZINE:AUG.
it was dark inside the barn and there was an early morning chill that hung in the air. a musty smell fought with the odor of manure and hay for prominence, with the dung winning out. the boy could hear rain pickety pocketing against the roof, breaking the silence that usually was part
of his morning chores. outside the barn, horses were nervously shuffling against each other, heads nodding up and down, soft whinnies echoing in the air, and little puffs of smoke coming from their nostrils.
as he moved around the barn, light from an open window played against his body, flickered off and onto the floor, and created jaggedy patterns against the farm machinery. he had lit an extra candle but that didnt seem enough. it was always dark so early in the morning. the rain and the mist coming up from the nearby hills had made it seem even darker today. he picked up a brown burlap bag filled with corn that was to be ground on the machine at the end of the room, unbound it and tossed it beside the grinder.
the work was hard but he enjoyed being on the farm. his uncle was a large, genial man who smiled often and told him stories about ancient, wooden, large mastered ships that traveled to foreign lands and brought back mysterious wonders for all to see. mordechai didnt know when he would have to go back home again. here, everything was so wide open and clean and there were animals and trees to climb on, and he loved his aunts enormous breakfasts and he knew without anyone saying anything that his father was having a hard time making ends meet.
he started unloading the bags into the grinder. The smell of the corn was pungently sweet & he
ran some of it through his fingers. it left a yellowish stain on his hands. there were some clumps of hay around the grinder and they felt slick and uncomfortable to walk on. everything seemed wet from all the moisture in the air. he put in some bags of corn and turned on the grinder. holding on to the side of the machine, he reached over with his other arm to get another bag of corn. then, in what at first was a moment of terrible tragedy and later would turn out to be of historical impact, his arm slipped and went into the grinder.
three finger mordechai brown is considered to be one of the very great pitchers in the game of baseball. the accident had resulted in most of his forefinger being amputated. his middle finger was torn apart and remained crooked. there was damage as well to the little finger. he learned to pitch off the stub of his finger, utilizing the curve that resulted from the spin-off to become an immortal hall of famer. starting out as an infielder, he discovered that by using his disability he was able to do things with the ball that had not been done before.
from 1904-1913 he was the mainstay of the Chicago cubs staff and one of the premier pitchers in the league. during his career he pitched 3,172 innings, won 239 games, lost 129, won 20 games six years in a row and ended up with the third best ERA (2.06) in baseball history after addie joss and eddie walsh. four out of his five world series wins were shutouts. In 1909 he enjoyed a storybook season. he won 27 games, lost 9, led the national league with 32 complete games, pitched in a league leading 50 contests & pitched in the most innings (342 & 2/3).
along with christy mathewson, mordechai brown dominated his time. its questionable that the cubs, as great a team as they were from 1906 to 1910, could have ruled over the baseball world as they did, without brown and his incredible consistency over that period.
he adhered to a very strict program of physical fitness and suffered no real injuries during his career. he is regarded as one of the greatest of control pitchers and very seldom did he beat himself by giving up walks or putting men on during crucial situations. he was well regarded by his teammates and although he was known as, three finger brown to the public and the press, the players referred to him as, minor. not only was he built like a minor, he had been one before he entered baseball at the age of 24.
life had not been easy for mordechai . coming from a poor working class family, sent away to work on his uncles farm at the age of 7, he was an example of americas great gestation of foreign working class that spilled over onto our shores in the late 1800s. they were huskily built men and strong willed women, deeply religious, ingrained with a powerful work ethic, and a feeling for family values that kept most of them together during the hard times that followed. america accepted them but the price they had to pay was that of intolerance, zenophobia, and long hours toiling at marginal, unfulfilling jobs. blessed with a strong determination to succeed, Mordechai was able to transcend his roots and become one of baseballs greatest pitchers.
the dynasty that the cubs established in 1905 and which lasted for 5 years was really mordechais legacy that he left to baseball. tinkers to evers to chance contributed to it, steinfeldt, schulte, and kling were apart of it too, but inch for inch, pound for pound, year after year, it was brown who pulled it all together.
It was his unique talent, strong dedication and tremendous consistency that made the cubs one of the first dynasties in the game.