Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown (1876-1948)
St. Louis Cardinals 1903
Chicago Cubs 1904-1912; 1916
Cincinnati Reds 1913
St. Louis Terriers 1914
Brooklyn Tip-Tops 1915
Chicago Whales 1915
Career WAR: 55.1
Best Season: 1906 26-6 1.04 ERA (253 ERA+) 2.08 FIP 0.934 WHIP 9 ShO 144 K
Known For: The staff ace of an exceptional Chicago pitching staff during the first decade of the 20th century, Brown led the very talented Cubs to World Series wins in 1907 and 1908. His deformed hand allowed him to throw a “bewildering” curveball.
Quote: Brown’s sign off in his instructional manual How to Pitch Curves:
“I would like to meet every one of you personally if such a thing were possible. But as it isn’t possible, I want you to believe right now that Mordecai Brown’s hand is reaching out to you in the distance and he is wishing you–good luck.”
Nickname: Though he was (and is) commonly referred to as “Three Finger”, Brown technically had four and a half fingers on his right hand. From his SABR Bio:
Mordecai’s most familiar nickname was Three Finger, although he actually had four and a half fingers on his pitching hand. Because of childhood curiosity, Mordecai lost most of his right index finger in a piece of farming equipment. Not long after, he fell while chasing a rabbit and broke his other fingers. The result was a bent middle finger, a paralyzed little finger, and a stump where the index finger used to be.
Rival: Brown had a career-long rivalry with contemporary (and fellow Half-Baked HOF’er) Christy Mathewson. After Mathewson beat Brown and the Cubs with a no-hitter in June of 1905, Brown won the next nine duels between the two, including the playoff replay of the “Merkle Boner” game in 1909; a game in which Brown entered as a relief pitcher in the first inning and later said he was as good as he had ever been.
The More Talented Brother: According to Brown family lore, Mordecai’s brother John may have been better at baseball than his famous sibling, but did not apply himself to the sport.