Dave "Lefty" Brown


"With no hitting practice, the [Gilkerson's] Union Giants annihilated the Collegians 14 to 6. Young started the game, but gave way to Lefty Wilson after the Collegians had registered their 6 runs. Wilson had just hurled a game at Hand's Park, but he stood the Collegians on their heads. Lefty knows how to pitch!!"
--Little Falls Daily Transcript, 1927


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Negro Leaguer of the Month
November, 2003


Dave "Lefty" Brown

aka Lefty Wilson
Born: 1896? in Texas
Died: 1930s?
Ht:5-10", Wt: 170
Batted right and threw left.
Positions: pitcher
Years: 1914-1935?

Teams: Dallas Black Giants, Chicago American Giants, New York Lincolns, Gilkerson's Union Giants, Little Falls (MN), Bertha Fisherman(MN), Pipestone Black Sox (MN)

There are a lot of question marks regarding Dave Brown's life and career: Did he kill a man in the 1920s? Did he play under various names? When did he retire? When and how did he die?

Some facts regarding Brown, however, are not in dispute. He was one of the finest lefthanders the Negro Leagues ever produced, good enough to be voted the 6th greatest pitcher in Negro League history in a 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll, trailing only Joe Williams, Satchel Paige, Bullet Rogan, Bill Foster and John Donaldson (only Donaldson is not in the Hall of Fame!)

Brown had a blazing fastball, a knee-bending curve and pinpoint control. Brown won nearly 75% of his decisions in the early 1920s with the Chicago American Giants and New York Lincolns, and was a top pitcher in Cuba.

He was very popular with his teammates, but also seemed to be able to find trouble wherever he played.

He reportedly was involved in robberies and a deadly bar fight, afterwhich he became a fugitive from justice and played semipro ball in the Midwest for years, always a step ahead of the law.

Brown played under the name "Lefty Wilson" for various town teams, usually integrated, in Minnesota, including Pipestone, Wanda, Ivanhoe, Bertha and Little Falls.

Against semipro teams, it was not unusual for Brown to strike out 12-15 batters without a walk. At the same time, John Donaldson also pitched for several Minnesota semipro teams and games in which they faced each other are still stuff of legend! As many as 5000 people packed into small town ballparks to watch two of the greatest black lefthanders in history (scroll down to see the Bertha ballpark).

Reports suggest that Brown died under strange circumstances in the early 1930s in the Denver area.

There is a fine article called THE PIPESTONE BLACK SOX by Alan Muchlinski and David Muchlinski about Lefty Brown and Minnesota semipro baseball.

 

 


Bertha baseball park, 1920s