Dr. Brown, 4-time champ, AL prez, dies at 96

March 25th, 2021

Dr. Bobby Brown, who won four World Series rings as a Yankees third baseman during a playing career that spanned parts of eight seasons, and who later went on to serve in the Korean War, become a respected cardiologist and, finally, president of the American League, died Thursday at the age of 96.

“Dr. Bobby Brown led an extraordinary life, which included great accomplishments on the baseball field and as a leader and executive in our game," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "He was a quiet star in each of the four World Series in which he played, a popular Yankee teammate, and a close friend of Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio. As president of the American League for a decade, Dr. Brown was an outstanding ambassador for the National Pastime and a trusted advisor to five Commissioners.

“Dr. Brown’s achievements outside of baseball were even more impressive. ... While he always remained a proud Yankee who enjoyed returning to New York for Old Timers’ Days, Dr. Brown’s many friends and admirers will first remember him as a true gentleman and a caring family man. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Dr. Brown’s three children, his many grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.”

Born in Seattle, Brown attended Stanford University in 1942 and enlisted in the Navy in '43, serving stateside during World War II with assignments at UCLA, San Diego Naval Hospital and Tulane University, where he earned his medical degree. He signed with the Yankees in '46 and played in seven late-season games for the Yankees that year. A left-handed hitter, Brown was part of a platoon at third base, first with Billy Johnson and then with Gil McDougald.

Though he finished his career a .279 hitter with little power (22 home runs) but with a .376 on-base percentage and only 88 strikeouts in 1,863 plate appearances, Brown shined brightest in October, hitting .439 (18-for-41) with three triples and nine RBIs in 17 World Series games. He hit a bases-loaded triple in Game 4 and a two-run triple in the decisive Game 5 of the '49 World Series. He went 3-for-3 with a walk and two doubles as a pinch-hitter in the Yankees’ seven-game World Series victory over Brooklyn in '47; the second double tied the score in Game 7 at 2-2 in the fourth inning as the Yankees went on to win by a score of 5-2.

“Few people who have worn the pinstripes have lived such an accomplished, fulfilled, and wide-ranging life as Dr. Brown, who was beloved by our organization for his warmth, kindness and character,” said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. “He represented the pinstripes with elegance throughout his playing career and in subsequent decades as a frequent, welcome guest at Old-Timers’ Day. We also hold the utmost respect for the myriad of other accomplishments in his life -- from service to our country, his stewardship of the American League and his longtime career as a cardiologist. The Yankees extend their deepest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones as we reflect on his incredible life.”

Brown, was called up by the Army medical corps in the middle of the 1952 season and was overseas during the Korean War for 19 months, not returning to the United States until April 28, 1954, missing the Yankees’ World Series appearances in '52 and '53. Upon his arrival home, he announced that he would take up a medical residency on July 1 at San Francisco City and County Hospital. When asked about these plans, he told the United Press, “In the meantime, I would love to try and play for a couple of months with the Yankees before the residency begins. I am going to call them up and see if we can get together.” Dr. Brown played in 28 games for the Yankees in May and June of 1954 before retiring from baseball.

Brown was the last living member of the 1947 World Series championship team. Pitcher Art Schallock, whose 97th birthday is next month, holds the distinction as the last living Yankee to play for the club prior to 1954 and the last remaining player from the franchise’s five-year run of titles from 1949-53.

For decades Brown was a popular attendee at Old Timers' Day, always wearing a full uniform for introductions. At his final Old-Timers’ Day visit in 2019, he recalled what he suggested his then-future wife should say to her parents about him: "Tell your mother that I'm in medical school, studying to be a cardiologist. Tell your dad that I play third base for the Yankees."


Brown practiced cardiology in the Dallas area before serving as interim president of the Rangers in 1974. He returned to his practice following the season.

“The Texas Rangers organization is extremely saddened by the passing of Dr. Bobby Brown," the Rangers said in a statement. "He lived an extraordinary life while excelling in both the medical and baseball professions, and he had a huge impact on the Dallas-Fort Worth community.

“Following his standout career as an infielder for the New York Yankees, during which time he also attended medical school and later served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Dr. Brown began a 30-year career as a practicing cardiologist. In 1958, he settled in Fort Worth, where he and his family would live for much of the next six decades. When Brad Corbett purchased the Texas Rangers franchise in 1974, he asked Dr. Brown to assume the role of team president. His leadership helped stabilize the franchise, and the “Turnaround Gang” improved its win total by 27 victories from 1973.

“In his later years, Dr. Brown was a frequent visitor to Rangers home games and a friend to many in the organization. His compassion and humor are two traits that will not be forgotten.

“The Rangers extend their deepest sympathies to Dr. Brown’s family and friends. He will be deeply missed.”    

Brown succeeded Lee MacPhail as AL president in 1984, remaining in the post until '94, when he was succeeded by Gene Budig. The positions of league presidents were eliminated after the '99 season. Brown presented the World Series trophy to the Blue Jays in 1992 and '93, when the position of Commissioner was officially vacant.

Brown is survived by his son, Dr. Pete Brown; daughters Beverley Dale and Kaydee Bailey, 11 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, and his entire extended family. Brown’s wife of more than 60 years, Sara, died in 2012.