Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown of the Chicago Cubs. He’s one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history.
In the book Three Finger:The Mordecai Brown Story, Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins comments on a fellow Chicago Cub Hall of Fame pitcher who played 50 years before him. “When you start out with a disadvantage, you have to work harder to do what others take for granted. In the end, that gives you an advantage.”
Jenkins was talking about Mordecai Brown, who was missing parts of two fingers on his throwing hand due to a farm injury suffered as a youth. The noticeable missing fingers on his right pitching hand led to his Three Finger nickname.
Oddly, Brown’s missing fingers served him extremely well. He overcame his physical limitation to become one of Major League Baseball’s best pitchers ever.
I also feature Three Finger in one of my sports books on Amazon named Favorite Overcoming Athletes.Brown’s childhood injury forced him to grip a baseball differently than all other pitchers. Brown’s unique grasp of the baseball added tremendous spin to all of his pitches. Because of the surprising extra movement on his pitches, batters could not make true contact on any ball Three Finger Brown threw at them.
Brown’s lively fastball, wicked curve and surprising change-up prompted baseball legend Ty Cobb to call Mordecai Brown one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the sport.
Brown excelled on the mound in a Cubs uniform between 1904 and 1912. During that time span, Three Finger won 20 or more games six times in a season. He helped the Cubs win World Series Championships in both 1907 and 1908.
One of the most amazing stories of his career centered on Brown’s rejecting repeated attempts to convince him to purposely lose when he pitched in the 1908 World Series.
As the story goes, Three Finger pitched victoriously in Game 1 of the series against the Detroit Tigers on October 10, 1908. Brown pitched brilliantly even though he carried several notes from the Italian Mob in his baseball uniform’s pants pocket threatening him if he won the World Series game.
Mordecai Three Finger Brown died in 1948 and was inducted into Cooperstown on the first ballot in 1949. He still holds the Major League Baseball record for lowest career ERA at 2.06 for pitchers with 200 or more career wins. His impressive 239 – 130 lifetime record included 55 shutouts and 1,375 strikeouts.
Ferguson Jenkins’s remark couldn’t be any truer for Mordecai Brown or anyone else in life, whether they play a sport or not.
In the case of Three Finger, his disadvantage proved to be a major advantage every time he took the mound. What an overcomer!
And, what a terrific #TBT sports memory!
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports