A career that began with the Monroe (La.) Monarchs (Negro Southern League) in 1934 took Willard "Home Run" Brown from the Southern "majors" of segregated baseball to a sterling career with the Kansas City Monarchs, a stint with the St. Louis Browns, and a few dazzling years in the integrated Texas League during the 1950s. Along the way Brown became the first black player to hit a homerun in the American League (with St. Louis in 1947) and a genuine legend in Puerto Rico. In the end, ten years after his death in 1996, Brown's career will come to a fitting conclusion with his induction into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame.
During the Hall of Fame's annual induction ceremony to be held on July 30th, Brown will join 16 other former Negro League players and executives to be enshrined in baseball's most sacred place. Baseball historians are almost universally agreed that Brown's career was of Hall of Fame caliber. But, as impressive as Brown was at the plate, leading the Negro American League (NAL) in homeruns seven times and winning three NAL batting titles, it is very possible that his statistical record fell considerably short of his potential. Paul Letlow, writing in the thenewsstar.com examines Brown's career and quirky personality.