Profiles of Valor
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in June of 1915, Willard Brown put together Hall of Fame careers on both the baseball and battlefield. Nicknamed “Home Run” Brown by fellow Negro Leagues’ slugger Josh Gibson, Brown was one of the greatest power hitters in the history of the Negro Leagues.
After starting his career with the Monroe Monarchs of the Negro Minor Leagues’, Brown exploded onto the scene of the Negro Leagues as a twenty-year-old phenom with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1935. Brown went on to put up gaudy numbers over the course of his career in the Negro Leagues. He also had a successful playing career in Puerto Rico before he joined the Kansas City Monarchs, also playing in Mexico for a short period before his time with the Monarchs. During his most prolific stretch from 1946-1950, Brown won two triple crowns, three home run titles, and three batting titles, hitting .390, .432, and .353 during those three seasons. He played an integral role on the Kansas City Monarchs’ teams that won six Negro American League Championships from 1937- 1946. During that same stretch of time, the Monarchs also won the Colored World Series in 1942.
Willard Brown posted a lifetime batting average of .355 in the Negro Leagues and made six All-Star appearances. He made his Major League debut for the St. Louis Browns on July 18, 1947 and became the first African American to hit a home run in the American League during his only Major League season. In 2006, Brown was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
From 1944-1945, Brown served in the United States Army in the European Theatre during World War II. During his service, Willard Brown served on one of the 5000 ships that crossed the English Channel during the Allied invasion of Normandy. Additionally, he served in the Quartermaster Corps before transferring to the Special Services.
Because of his bravery and accomplishments, Willard “Home Run” Brown was a hero on both the baseball diamond and the field of battle.