Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Card of the Week: 1970 Topps Ike Brown

This coming Saturday is Major League Baseball's annual Civil Rights Game. This game is played once a year and honors past African American and other minority players and promotes the game for future minorities.
With this game, I will make my card of the week of a player who is a bit of trivia among African American baseball players. We all know that Jackie Robinson was the first Negro League player in MLB history and I have written about some of the players who followed Robinson.  But, who was the last Negro League player to debut in the majors.  The answer is former Detroit Tiger Ike Brown.
1970 Topps

Brown originally signed with St. Louis Cardinals in 1960 as 18 year old from Memphis, Tennessee. But before playing a game in the minor leagues, Cardinals released him.  Without a team, Brown joined the Kansas City Monarchs Negro League team.  He played well enough for them to have the Tigers sign him the following year.
It took Brown eight years of minor league ball to finally make the Tigers team in 1969.  He was known as a popular utility player and pitch hitter among his teammates and fans. Sometimes confused by fellow Tiger Gates Brown(no relation to), but his eyeglasses was his distinctive look.   He also was known to say "its a beautiful day" every morning whether it was or not.
Brown played for Tigers for six seasons before his release.  He then, moved back to Memphis and became an umpire until his passing in 2001.

As for the card itself, many of the Topps cards of the late 1960s and early 70s feature players posing for the photographers at the ballparks. I especially like some of these as you can see part of the old stadiums in the background.   Here you can see some of the features of old Tiger Stadium such as the centerfield bleachers and part of the roof over rightfield.

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