The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 28. Tommy Brown

C. Paul Rogers III

Tommy Brown was only nineteen years old and recently discharged from the army when he joined the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers for spring training in Havana. Playing time would prove difficult to come by for Brown on that Dodgers club with all its players returned from World War II. But the Dodgers could not send him to the Minor Leagues under the rules then in force. Because Brown already had two years on a big league roster, he would have to pass through waivers to be farmed out. The Dodgers were not willing to let Brown go for the waiver price, so he was relegated to end-ofthe-bench status.

For the 47 season, the youngster appeared in only fifteen games, including six at third base, three in the outfield, and one at shortstop. The right-handed-hitting Brown even suffered the ignominy of starting a game at third base against a left-handed pitcher but, when the Dodgers knocked the southpaw out of the game in the first inning before he had a chance to bat, being replaced by the left-handed-hitting Spider Jorgensen.

Brown had made quite a splash when he was first called up to the Dodgers on August 3, 1944. With Pee Wee Reese still in the military, the Dodgers had tried Bobby Bragan at shortstop but decided they needed someone more mobile. GM Branch Rickey and manager Leo Durocher remembered Brown from spring training and called him up from the Newport News (Virginia) Dodgers of the Class B Piedmont League. When Brown arrived in the clubhouse, Durocher told him he was playing shortstop that afternoon in a doubleheader against the Cubs. Brown advised Durocher that he had ridden the train all night, but Leo responded that he didn’t care. Brown did play the doubleheader, although he was only sixteen years and seven months old. He thus became the youngest position player to appear in a Major League game and the second youngest ever, after Joe Nuxhall, who appeared as a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds earlier in 1944.

Tommy Brown, age nineteen, was the third-youngest player
in the National League in 1947.

Tommy Brown was a local kid; he was born December 6, 1927, in the Bensonhurst section of

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