Joining the Kansas City Monarchs in 1935, Willard Brown would go on to be one of the most potent, and frustrating, players in Negro League history. Talented with both power and speed, but also irascible and lazy, Brown lead the league in home runs eight times despite a reputation for minimal effort. He was briefly in the Majors, signed by Bill Veeck to play for the St. Louis Browns in 1947. Frustrated by the frequent attacks of racism at Major League ballparks and the general poor play of the Browns, Brown appeared in only 21 games, hitting a paltry .179 before being cut. He did hit the first American League home run by an African-American, an inside-the-parker. After leaving the Majors, he played in the Puerto Rican League where he won two triple crowns and earned the nickname “Ese Hombre”-“That Man.”
Brown’s military service during WWII permitted him to be buried at Houston National Cemetery; the same cemetery as Dan Bankhead, the first black pitcher in the Majors.
January 5, 2014