The legends from decades before you were ever born give way to those you remember from your childhood, and suddenly the “old” starts to feel too familiar as the iconic set fades away every more slightly.
Watching Paul O’Neill shag a fly ball in right with David Cone on the mound is a joy, sure, but it’s also a keen method of God winking at you as your own aging curve evaporates.
As a child, attending Old-Timers’ Day meant a chance to be acquainted with Yankee glory of the past, the only remaining way to feel like an insider blessed with a piece of connective tissue between Whitey, Mickey and The Babe.
One of the most oft-spotted stalwarts of so many of these summer celebrations was Dr. Bobby Brown.
Once Phil Rizzuto’s double play partner, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, and a five-time champion, Brown passed away at the age of 96 on Thursday, leaving behind a truly unique and unmatched legacy, one that he was always willing to share with the current Yankees on a special day each June.
Yankees five-time World Series champion Dr. Bobby Brown passed away.
Brown himself appeared in four World Series in a career that featured a break from the game to once again serve his country.
This is a Yankee we’re talking about, of course. Though Brown was a part-time player for large portions of his career, never playing in more than 113 games in a season, he still got to play heavily most Octobers because he…well, he completely earned it.
In those four Fall Classics, Brown hit .439 in 46 plate appearances, .160 points above his still-respectable career average of .279. God, wouldn’t it be good to expect that level of clutch hitting again? Brown’s role in the 1949 triumph over the Brooklyn Dodgers included six hits in 12 at-bats, two doubles, a triple, and a tidy five-game victory.
If it wasn’t clear already, there was far more to Brown’s remarkable baseball life than just smacking big hits in October. A cardiology practice earned him the “Dr.” designation, but his decade as the American League president from 1984-1994 earned him wider acclaim and status throughout the game.
Presumably at some point this summer, the old guard will reassemble. They’ll wander through the halls of a more-freshly-baked Yankee Stadium, regaling anyone who’ll listen with tales of the cathedral that once existed across the street.
They’ll bend the brims of their brand-new Yankee hats, and they’ll sit in the dugout, posing for pictures with a new group of guys trying to replicate, but not surpass, their feats.
Whitey Ford won’t be there, though, and neither will Dr. Brown, as the most venerated section on the list of attendees will now be chillingly small.
Far more than a drop in a title-winning bucket, Brown’s annual appearance will, in many ways, be missed most of all because of the falling curtain it signifies.