Three Finger Brown
Some players overcome handicaps, but Brown turned his to an advantage. As a seven-year-old farm boy, he caught his right hand in a corn grinder on his uncle's farm. Although doctors were able to save his hand, they had to amputate almost all of the forefinger; the middle finger was mangled and left crooked. His little finger was also stubbed.
Later, newspapers called him "Three-Finger," although to his teammates he was "Miner" because he'd worked several years in a coal mine before beginning in baseball at age 24. He started as an infielder, but when he learned to add spin to the ball by releasing it off his stub, he became a pitcher. In time, he developed one of the sharpest curve balls ever.
A member of the Chicago Cubs' championship teams of 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910 - the great "Tinker- to-Evers-to-Chance" Cub teams that won four pennants and two world championships in this period - the right-hander posted six consecutive 20-victory seasons. Brown was the pitching mainstay of this squad, and four of his five World Series wins were shutouts. Unfortunately, he was a contemporary of Christy Mathewson, and even though he posted a seven-year run from 1904 to 1910 that is one of the great stretches in baseball history, he was overshadowed by the popular Giant. In fact, he won only one ERA title, in 1906, while Mathewson won five.
Still, Brown was Matty's equal in the frequent instances when they duelled each other when the Giants and Cubs met. One game he lost to Mathewson was Matty's no-hitter in 1905. After that, Brown rolled off nine consecutive victories over Mathewson, the ninth coming in the playoff that decided the famous 1908 pennant race after the "Merkle Boner."
In 1916, they faced each other for the final time - Mathewson beat Brown, in what turned out to be the last game for each. While Mathewson did beat Brown in the last game they faced each other, Brown ended up winning 13 of the 24 games in which they faced each other.
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