Memphis Moments
5:52 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Larry Brown and the Memphis Red Sox

Larry Brown of the Memphis Red Sox
Larry Brown of the Memphis Red Sox

The Memphis Red Sox was one of the most exciting teams in the Negro League in the 1930s-1940s.

Catcher Larry Brown created a lot of that excitement. He was known as one of the best catchers in the Negro League, a brilliant defender of home plate, throwing-out runners with cool precision and snagging wild pitches with ease.

Brown quit his job with the railroad in 1920 to join the Indianapolis ABCs. Soon after, he briefly joined the Memphis Red Sox, but he then moved around from 1925-1938, playing for several different teams. He helped the Chicago American Giants win the 1926 Negro World Series.

In 1930, he caught 234 games in a row, a challenge, even by today's standards. Legend has it that Ty Cobb was so impressed with Brown when they played together in the Cuban Leagues that he offered to pay the catcher to learn Spanish and pass for Hispanic to play for Cobb's Detroit Tigers. Throughout the early thirties Brown starred behind the plate with the Chicago American Giants, representing the club in the East-West All-Star game in 1933 and 1934. 

In 1938 he returned to the Memphis Red Sox, earning "All-Star" status four times, 1938-41. His friendly, jovial manner made Brown a favorite among his teammates, and his eagerness to help young players resulted in the development of several young pitching stars for the Red Sox, including southpaw ace, Verdell Mathis.

In the mid-1940s, Brown continued with the Red Sox as player-manager until his retirement in 1948. Brown died at his home in Memphis in 1971.

To learn more about our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or or their Facebook page, or at http://memphismuseums.org.