(This passage comes from my upcoming book, “The Least Among Them,” a unique and original history of the New York Yankees. The manuscript is in the editing stage. Literary agents and/or publishers interested in learning more about this project are encouraged to reach me at drpaulsem AT hotmail dot com.)
Mordecai Brown was an ace pitcher on the Chicago Cubs teams that dominated baseball in the earliest days of the Twentieth Century. Brown won twenty or more games in six consecutive seasons between 1906 and 1911. One of baseball’s great pitchers, Mordecai Brown won 239 games. He was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1949. But none of that is why he is remembered today…
As a youngster, Mordecai lost one finger and damaged another during an accident with a feed chopper on a farm. It was because of these “deformities,” that he became known as “Three Finger” Brown. Many believed that the unique grip he had on a baseball contributed to his success. But Mordecai Brown was not baseball’s only three-fingered pitcher.
In 1934, the New York Yankees had a prospect named Floyd Newkirk. Like the great “Three Finger” Brown, Newkirk had only three fingers on his pitching hand. Like Brown, Floyd lost his two fingers in a childhood accident of his own. Also like Brown, the injury did not dissuade Floyd Newkirk from playing, and ultimately achieving success, through pitching a baseball.