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Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An excellent window into a time when sport and society were wildly different from today, and it successfully reminds us of Mordecai Brown's rightful place in baseball’s collective memory.”—Tim Denevi, Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature
(Tim Denevi Aethlon 2007-10-15)

“Deadball aficionados, baseball fans in general, and those loving a well written story should read this great book.”—Mark Dugo, The Inside Game
(The Inside Game 2008-02-05)

“Among the great pleasures of the narrative is the authors’ ability to recreate the gritty atmosphere of early baseball. By contrast, today’s game seems sedate. Rivalries were intense and local (within the Three I League—Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, for example). Dangers lurked from mobsters, brawling opponents and teammates, and head-hunting pitchers. Umpiring was a high-risk profession.”—Steve Golos, Ohioana Quarterly
(Steve Golos Ohioana Quarterly 2008-03-25) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Cindy Thomson is the author of a historical novel, Brigid of Ireland, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

Scott Brown is a charter member of the Diamond Brotherhood, a SABR member, and the founder of the Mordecai Brown Legacy Foundation. For more information about Mordecai Brown please visit the Web site http://www.threefinger.com


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803244487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803244481
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,297,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Brookner on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It took longer than it should have for a bio of this early twentieth century top pitcher to be written, considering some of the baseball bios that have been produced. Perhaps the greatest Cub pitcher ever, Mordecai Brown was also a kind, good man. This book provides good insight into his life, and some photos never before published. If anything, it could have used a bit more detail on his pitching, at least in regular season games. But we are treated to detail on some of the famous Mathewson-Brown match-ups (Brown won the career duel), and the World series appearances.

Brown is the hero, but his success and abilities are underplayed, if anything. That's a relief next to several current books about players whose authors are trying to get them into the Hall of Fame. A pleasurable, easy read. The baseball stats are reliable except in one instance where the authors must have had a petite mal seizure. Page 78 states that Brown's 213 innings pitched in 1908 were "more than any other single year in his career." The number is a typo for 312, but anyway, as the authors later note, Brown pitched 343 innings the following year. But not to worry, this is a unique lapse, and pointed out here only to help readers, or correct any future edition. Thanks for this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The thing that makes Mordecai Brown so interesting is that, really, he wasn't all that interesting. It is refreshing to read the story of a man who worked hard, mastered his craft, was very successful (on and off the field) while being, to all evidence, a good man, good husband, good friend and good teammate. Kind of shocking in his very decency. The book is well researched, but stiffly written and a rather wooden read. I recommend this as there is so little on Brown available and his is an interesting story. I only wish the authors has loosened up a bit and allowed some of the color and liveliness of his times come through.
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Format: Paperback
Authors Cindy Thomson and Scott Brown pen an all-star book for the Hot Stove League that chronicles the life of one of the greatest pitchers in the "Dead Ball Era" of Major League Baseball, Mordecai "Three Fingered" of "Miner" Brown.

Sporting a lifetime MLB record of 239-130, with 1375 strikeouts and an amazing 2.06 ERA, Brown is oftentimes more known for his main nickname, which was due to a farm-machinery accident as a youth, losing parts of two fingers. His other nickname came from his work in the Indiana coal mines before baseball became his profession.

His is truly an American story, as Brown sparked the Chicago Cubs to victories over the Detroit Tigers in the 1907-1908 Fall Classics, turned away from threats by mobsters in 1908 to throw a game and attempted to end the MLB monopoly on the pro game by joining the "outlaw" Federal League.

But its in retirement where Brown gave back to the sport - and to the local fans who followed his pro career - that made him a household name. When back home again in (Terre Haute) Indiana, he played in the minors, participated in exhibition games and also coached. Brown also operated a gas station in Terre Haute.

Like home plate being dusted off after a long winter, the biography brings to life a legend who was buried under yellowed pages of newspapers that had been weathered by time and neglect.
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Roger Ebert reviewed the movie “Cobb” and wondered why anyone would ever want to spend over two hours with such an unpleasant man. Although I think the movie Ty Cobb was inaccurately portrayed in many ways, still Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown is, in some respects, an antiCobb. This book is a pleasant read, because it’s easy to spend time with the subject. The book is informative, and gripping at the beginning. It’s arranged chronologically and each chapter begins with a quotation. I think it does get a little tedious near the end. I think a little more psychological depth would have helped. For example, I would like to know more about Brown’s relationship with Jane Brown and his “lifelong sweetheart”. We find out very little about these people and how Mordecai felt about them. Still, it’s a solid effort about a worthy subject. Besides, the Maddon-led Cubbies currently have the best record in baseball. What better time to find out more about the heroic hand that has passed the baton to them? I enjoyed reading about the forty carrier pigeons that were used to carry the news of Game One of the 1907 World Series, and the origin of “sanitary socks” and concession stands. I also enjoyed George Dovey’s quote about deciding what to do about the Merkle incident, “"We took all the other affidavits and threw them in the waste basket. Matty's word was good enough for us.", and Robert Frost’s on pitching, “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” Most of all, I enjoyed hanging out with Three Finger for awhile. Three stars for Three Finger.
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When I was little, I was always amazed by Mordecai Brown's name and his nickname. First of all, I could never pronounce his first name, because I never heard anyone say it. And "Three Finger"? I could never visualize how he could throw a baseball. So, for me, "Three Finger" Brown was one of those vague stars of the early game. I knew something was great about him, but he was too distant from my consciousness to really understand WHY he was so great. This book goes a long way to give me that understanding now.

Bison Books out of the University of Nebraska must be the finest baseball press in the United States. I have read several of their books and each one is excellent. If it's a Bison Book and it's on baseball, I put it on my "to read" list. This book is no different: it is a rather standard biography of a great player, but that is precisely what I enjoy about it. Mordecai Brown was no Rube Waddell. He was a player I would want as a friend; I can imagine his gas station days in the 30s and 40s, and can imagine myself hanging out there, just enjoying the presence of "Three Finger." The more I read, the more I appreciated Brown's accomplishments (six seasons of twenty games plus wins! --- not to mention the complete games, which is even more impressive!). I also came to realize that he was a fine man as well as a great player.

This biography is well-written, provides great photos and, most important of all (and many baseball books fail miserably at this) the authors have provided his statistical record to accompany the narrative tale of Brown's life. It was a great life; an American life and, in some ways, a morality tale with a happy ending and real-life fairy-tale [true] years of the Cubs as big-league champions. Who knows when we shall experience a player and a time like that again.
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