Best remembered as “Three Finger” or “Miner”, a Hoosier ball player transformed a physical handicap to become one of the elite pitchers of his era.
Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown was born on a Nyesville, Indiana farm in 1876. The farming life took a toll on the boy. A threshing machine accident resulted in the loss of part of his right index finger; his two middle fingers were later mangled while he was chasing his pig, and his pinky finger was paralyzed.
Working in the mines as a young man, Brown met former baseball player Legs O’Connell, who encouraged Brown to practice pitching with stones.
The unique grip that Brown devised using the three fingers of his right hand created a spin that disarmed his opponents.
After playing semi-professional baseball for a Coxville, Indiana team in the late 1890s, Brown pitched for Terre Haute’s I-League team in 1901.
Signed to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1903, Brown enjoyed a major league career until age 40.
Playing for Chicago from 1904 to 1912, Brown led the Cubs to two World Series Championships and six consecutive 20-plus win seasons. Brown spent a year with the Cincinnati Reds in 1913, and pitched a final year for the Cubs in 1916.
Finishing his career with the third lowest ERA record in Major League baseball history, Brown returned home to Terre Haute to pitch in the minors. Brown was posthumously inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949, and the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.