Saw a mention of the fact that next year will be the 30 year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates 1971 World Series Championship team. Joe L. Brown was the General Manager of the Pirates for twenty years beginning in November of 1955. He came back in 1985 on an interim basis when the drug trials had hammered Pittsburgh.
I thought it was relevant, because so much was made about the Pirates coming from last place finishers to world champions in 1960. Then Brown used the rich scouting of Latin America and the Caribbean to assemble a team like no other to win another title in ’71. It seems the Pirates are trying to go back to their roots to return the club to glory. So the question is does current GM Neal Huntington have what it takes to do the same thing that Brown did so long ago?
Brown’s career path really stood out because he spent his entire life in baseball. He worked hard throughout his life, even spending time in the military during WWII, and eventually worked his way up to earn the job as GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He missed on his first managerial choice of Bobby Bragan, but in 1957 during the middle of the year, Brown replaced Bragan with Danny Murtaugh. The midseason move was a spark and by 1958 the Bucs were contenders. Could history be repeating itself in Pittsburgh? Perhaps Huntington missed with Russell, a large number of fans feel that he has. But if a move were to be made, who could improve this young team?
Brown was different in a few regards from my perspective. The first is in the trades that put the ’60 Bucs over the top. Huntington’s trades some would say are still in the mix, but there is nothing he has done that has matched what Joe L. Brown did. Almost all of the research I did on Brown explained his sharp eye for talent. His resume does all the talking. Especially in Latin America with his good buddy Howie ‘Big Daddy’ Haak.
I pulled out the ’72 yearbook trying to see what quotes stood out about Joe L. Brown. It hit me like a hammer. Pirates announcer Nellie King was the man quoted:
“Joe L. Brown is people oriented, not thing oriented. I’ve known Joe Brown since 1954 when he was the GM with the New Orleans club, and I have always found him to have a deep sincere feeling for the people who work for him.”
No matter what you say about Joe L. Brown, you have to respect a quote like that especially when it is in the World Champion yearbook in 1972. I can only imagine all of the quotes that were available to be used after winning a world championship. How special is it that a quote about being people oriented makes the cut? Powerful stuff.
It’s all about the people. Let’s trust that one day Neal Huntington gets that part of the business and could have a quote like that in a World Championship Pirates yearbook.
“Pirates Pick Brown: Rickey Successor Predicts Pennant,” The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1955.