Bobby Brown, MD-The Diamond Doctor

Physician's Money Digest, September30 2003, Volume 10, Issue 18

With professional baseball'sWorld Series rightaround the corner, Ithought I'd ponder a littleabout our National Pastime. I knowmany physicians like baseball, but justas many probably don't know aboutthe game's greatest player-doctor,Robert "Bobby" Brown, MD.

The Seattle native stuffed severalfulfilling careers—professional athlete,physician, and baseball executive—intohis lifetime. I'm proud to say that Dr.Brown and his family—and notablefriends—had a deep connection to myJersey Shore area.

Yankee Star

A standout player for the New YorkYankees in the World Series, he was theoriginal "Mr. October," playing on 4World Series championship teams forthe Yanks and batting .439 in 17 FallClassic games. The Yankees, who arecelebrating their 100th anniversary thisseason, have won 26 World Seriestitles—no other team is even in the double-digits. Fittingly, Dr. Brown will celebratehis 79th birthday on October 25.

Born in 1924, Dr. Brown played collegeball at Stanford University andUCLA. He enlisted in the US Navy'sofficer training at age 19. By 1950, hebecame the first active major league baseballplayer to earn a medical degree.

Famous Friends

The Yankees' 3rd baseman from1947 to 1954, Dr. Brown lived on thesame street where I grew up as a boy inthe 1960s and 1970s. As there werevery few private TV sets in those days,Dr. Brown's parents would walkaround the corner to a local tavern inmy town to watch their son on TVwhile he played for the Yankees.

His teammate and close friend,Whitey Ford, rented a room in myhometown when he was stationed atnearby Fort Monmouth. Dr. Brown wasalso friendly with Mickey Mantle andYogi Berra, and those Yankee legendswould regularly visit my hometown ofMonmouth Beach, NJ, in the 1940s and1950s. The Yankees were perennialworld champions during these years—winning 5 consecutive World Seriestitles from 1949 to 1953.

True baseball fans know thatWhitey Ford went on to post the bestwinning percentage of any pitcher inthe 20th century, Berra played on 10World Series winning teams (more thanany other player), and Mantle, ofcourse, became the idol of millions.

Dr. Brown made the Yank's majorleague team in 1947, rooming withanother famous rookie, Berra.

Dr. Baseball

In 1952, he returned to the military,serving in a MASH unit duringthe Korean War. Following a briefcomeback attempt in 1954, he quit probaseball to practice medicine.

After completing his residency and acardiology fellowship at Tulane, Dr.Brown opened a successful cardiologypractice in Fort Worth, Tex, with Dr.Albert Goggans, a friend from medicalschool. They practiced medicine togetherfor more than 25 years.

Coming Home

Some 30 years later, baseball calledagain. Ready to leave the constantstress of a fast-paced cardiology practice,Dr. Brown assumed the job of presidentof the American League. Heserved until 1994. My wife, Maureen,who worked in the Major LeagueBaseball commissioner's office in thelate 1980s, says that Dr. Brown was a"true gentleman" who "had very fondmemories" of our hometown.

For disclosure purposes, I must tellmy readers that I'm a New York Metsfan—making this a tough, althoughcorrect, column to write.