This past week's crowning of R.A. Dickey
as National League Cy Young award winner sets the Tennessee native near the top of another rather
select list of major leaguers…those who succeeded despite physical
deformities. These men didn’t overcome
bad knees, a la Mickey
Mantle, or end a dominant career with a bone on bone elbow like Sandy Koufax….
No these men had actual missing (or in 1 case extra) parts. Some achieved great things in their careers,
but few have been feted as immortally as Dickey has been for his 2012
Mordecai (Three Fingers) Brown was a pitcher who excelled for the Cubs in the early 20th century, winning 20 or more games in six consecutive seasons, including totals of 29 and 27 in consecutive years, while winding up with a career ERA of 2.06. Brown suffered his disability (memorialized by his thoughtful nickname) as a result of accident (or two in his case) as opposed to birth. An Indiana native, Brown lost most of his index finger and mangled the others in a farm machinery accident. Before the hand had fully healed, Brown took an unfortunate fall which broke his middle finger. That finger was never set properly and remained bent forever. Still the former coal miner managed to lead his Cubs to consecutive World Series victories over the Detroit Tigers (1907 and 1908) while forging a Hall of Fame career. He was enshrined for his 239 wins in 1949, a year after his death.