Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown
"There is no record of a sporting event that stirred New York s did the game yesterday," intoned the New York Times on October 9, 1908. "No crowd so big ever was moved to a field of contest as was moved yesterday. Perhaps never in the history of a great city, since the days of Rome and its arena contests, has a people been pitched to such a key of excitement as was New York 'fandom' yesterday."
More than 35,000 fans of every sort crushed against each other in a record turnout to watch the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants, tied for first place in the National League, play for the pennant. Tens of thousands more were shut out of the stadium, many of them squeezing their way onto Coogan's Bluff, the elevated rail tracks, grandstand fences--anything that might offer a view.
Behind the pitching of "Three Finger" Brown, the Cubs won 4-2, setting off mad rejoicing in the Windy City. But in Gotham, the Times observed, "It is impossible to believe . . . that the earth is still on the same track it was clinging to 24 hours ago. Time stopped . . . everything came to an end yesterday when Chicago got four runs in one inning."
As a youth, Mordecai Brown lost most of his right index finger to corn shredder, while a subsequent fall mangled the rest of his digits. After recovering from his injuries, Brown discovered he could grasp a baseball like no other pitcher, and for much of his professional career his curve ball proved unhittable.
Disabilities were rare but not unknown in professional baseball, and in the parlance of the day, deaf ballplayers were often called "Dummy," and Mordecai became known as "Three Finger" Brown.
He retired in 1916 with a 239-130 record and a lifetime 2.06 ERA. In 1908, he led the Chicago Cubs to their second consecutive World Series win.