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The Engaging and Edifying EFQ Interview
Wartime Baseball, Medicine, and the N. Y. Yankees:
A Conversation with Dr. Bobby Brown
By Paul Rogers
For many younger baseball fans, the name "Bobby Brown" may
be remembered as nothing more than the signature that has graced the official
American League baseball for most of the past fifteen years. However, between
World War II and the end of the Korean War, Dr. Bobby Brown (who served
as A.L. president from 1984--1994) spent parts of eight seasons with the
powerhouse New York Yankees, appearing in 548 games, playing on four world
championship teams, and finishing with a .279 career batting average. Brown,
who juggled offseason medical studies that often required him to miss or
arrive late at training camp each year, always hit his stride in the postseason,
where he batted an exceptional .439 with eighteen hits and 9 RBI in seventeen
world series contests.
He retired from baseball after a two-year stint in the Korean War, and
began pursuing a specialty in cardiology, which he practiced for twenty-five
years before agreeing to become A.L. president in 1984. Regular EFQ contributor
Paul Rogers caught up with Dr. Brown for this interview on May 26, 1998,
in Dallas, Texas.
EFQ: Talk to me about getting started in baseball. I read that your dad worked with you a lot as a kid and wanted you to be a big league ballplayer. Is that true?
BB: My dad enjoyed baseball. He was a good ballplayer himself. He never played professionally. As a kid coming up, he taught me how to play. I started playing before I can remember. I know that when I look back to when I started the first grade, I could hit the ball better than any of the kids in the class. We used to play softball at recess and during the lunch hour in the school yard.
You were a left-handed hitter.
Dad started me as a left-handed hitter and I always hit left-handed and so from that point on I played all the time. We didnt have a lot of formal teams in those days until you got at the American Legion age and high school age. So the kids played a lot in the park and they played on lots and they played in the school yards and you didnt have a lot to do, so you played almost every day when the weather was decent. I was born in Seattle so you couldnt play too much in the winter time because of the rain and it got a little chilly. Certainly, when I got to high school and when we moved to San Francisco, I played every day except Monday. On Monday we played paddle tennis.
I also read somewhere that one of the reasons you moved to San Francisco was because your dad had a new job, but also that your high school coach had told him that you werent going to make the baseball team. Is there any truth to that?
Yes. By that time we had moved from Seattle to New Jersey. I was a sophomore and went out the first day for practice and the coach put me on the JV team and told my dad he wasnt going to use me that year. It just so happened at the time my dad had this good job opportunity in California and he was weighing the decision whether to stay in New Jersey where he was doing quite well on his own or whether to take the job offer in San Francisco. So he decided wed move to San Francisco. I dont know if he went solely because I was on the JVs but certainly that played into the mix. He knew that I was going to be terribly disappointed if I didnt get to play on the varsity.
To read the rest of this interview, click here to order a copy of the Summer 1999 issue.
C. PAUL ROGERS III teaches at the Southern Methodist University School
of Law in Dallas, Texas, where he recently acquired a higher title, that of
ex-dean. He is the co-author with his boyhood hero Robin Roberts of The Whiz
Kids and the 1950 Pennant. He also writes about antitrust law when he cannot
find an excuse to read or write about baseball.
© 1999 Paul Rogers
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