A New Era

  • After a season with Cincinnati and two seasons in the Federal League, Mordecai Brown returned to the mound for the Cubs and the delight of Chicago fans.

  • Both Mordecai and Christy Mathewson finished their professional careers during the1916 season. As a fitting tribute to the on-the-field rivals/off-the-field friends, Brown and Mathewson competed against each other in their final Major League game.

  • Mordecai demonstrates one of his winning pitches in MORDECAI BROWN – How To Pitch Curves.

  • In the years following his retirement from the Major Leagues, Mordecai stayed active in the game he loved. Beginning in 1917 with the Columbus (OH) Senators, Brown split his duties between coaching and pitching.

In 1914 Mordecai joined with other big leaguers and jumped to the short-lived Federal League. There he was player/manager for the St. Louis team before going to Brooklyn. Between the two teams he was 14-11 with a swelling ERA of 3.52. When he joined the Chicago Federals in 1915, he improved to 17-8 with an ERA of 2.09, and his team won a championship.

When the Federal League folded, Brown returned to the Cubs. His records indicate that major league dominance was behind him. At age thirty-nine he made only twelve appearances, winning two games and losing three. His ERA was his highest ever at 3.91. Mordecai’s final game in the majors was September 4, 1916, the final face-off against rival Christy Mathewson, now pitcher and manager for the Cincinnati Reds. The Labor Day event was highly promoted and turned out to be the last big league performance for both pitchers. Although Mathewson won that day, Brown slightly bested him over all, going 12-11 with one no decision in their 24 matchups.

With his big league years behind him, Mordecai accepted an invitation from his old Cub teammate, Joe Tinker, now manager of the Columbus Senators of the American Association, to pitch in Ohio’s capital. Brown was forty years old by then and posted a 10-12 record. Mordecai filled in as manager whenever Tinker was out scouting players.

An article in the July 11, 1918, Columbus Citizen, notes that while playing in Louisville, Mordecai received more applause than the home team did. His popularity may in part explain the large fan attendance Columbus enjoyed while he played there. In 1917 the Senators drew just under 105,000–in a city with a population not much larger than that. In 1918 he appeared in only thirteen games, but that was a year shortened by war and the flu outbreak.

“The greatest fielding pitcher the game ever had.”
Frank Chance called Brown

Biographical material by Cindy Thomson – SABR Bio Project