Mystery Pitcher

Who is this mystery pitcher? (Bigger Mystery: If this is a picture of the guy's grip and release point, will the ball even make it to home plate?")

Who is this mystery pitcher?
(Bigger Mystery: If this is a picture of the guy’s grip, form, and release point, will the ball even make it to home plate?”)


Thank you again Robert (and we presume, Daryl) Blair for once more presenting The Pecan Park Eagle with a perplexing question of baseball identity.

“Who am I?” this pitcher picture screams – waiting for an answer that may never come. Why? Because he simply doesn’t look very much like a famous baseball person – nor the kind of guy who would have had the grit to play the game long enough to have his photo taken for the forever grateful sight of posterity. To me, he looks more like the guy from a small town amateur club who sprang the bill for his club’s uniforms, just to make sure that his own image was included was included when they went down to the photographer’s studio early one Saturday morning before a noon game out at the county fairgrounds.

Let’s make it easier by ruling out just about every famous big league picture from Old Hoss Radbourn of the 19th century glove-using era to Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens of more recent times. Old Hoss had a really fine mustache and never played organized ball with a team that sported an ornate “M” or “Mo” on the heart-side jersey pate.  Nolie and Roger never dressed out in this uniform style and neither of them ever flashed a pitching form, ball grip, or release point that looked anything like what our mystery guy is about to dramatically release to some off-screen phantom batter. – They may have tried using a guy with a bat in his hand to help the mystery man look real in his actions here, but that guy may have been forced to retire from the studio for a drink at the local saloon to cure his case of uncontrollable laughter from the experience.

Oh well, now that we’ve finished this unfair and fairly ruthless ripping of the ancient mystery man, but all in good fun, who do you think the guy is? And please, Mystery Man, forgive us for having fun at your defenseless expense. We realize you’ve been gone a while, but some things down here haven’t changed much since your departure. Sometimes the mind gets really bored with photos and presentations that looked really staged – even if it’s a guy from at least  century ago trying to look like he’s throwing a baseball.

Happy late week trails to you, investigative mystery man identification team!


Thursday, February 12, 2015: 9:00 AM

Holy Moley! – Robert Blair just sent me an unsolicited clue that gave the whole mystery away, alright.

First, the clue from Blair: “Played with the Chicago Cubs for most of his career and shared something in common with Roger Metzger.”

Holy American Disabilities Act! – The guy in the old photo above – the guy with the terrible grip, delivery, and form – the guy that at least two of us – (See Bill Hickman’s take in the Comment Section that we placed there from E-Mail) – well, we thought that either this apparent nobody or his parents paid for this studio shot. – We’ve now learned that this image actually turns out to be an early photo of Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs great right handed pitcher, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown!

Mordecai Brown lost a finger on his right from a childhood accident. Roger Metzger, who also played briefly with the Cubs much later, lost the tips of four fingers from a power saw injury in 1979.,7009062

You may want to check out the career stats of Mordecai Brown, whose early photo above made a few of us think of him as nothing more than a great pretender dweeb. – A “dweeb” he was not. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1949. Here’s his record at Baseball

We still don’t now what uniform he was wearing in the early picture, but the following picture from Brown’s Cubs days shows that his grip and delivery form didn’t seem to keep him from winning 239 MLB regular season games.

Our apologies, Mordecai Brown!

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown Baseball Hall of Fame 1949

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown
Baseball Hall of Fame


 UPON FURTHER REVIEW …. It new evidence says this man cannot be Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown!

Thursday, February 12, 2015: 1:30 PM

Thanks to Greg Lucas and others who have written since this morning, especially to point out the finger loss discrepancies. I did a close-up crop on the throwing hand in the mystery pitcher photo. Then I also compared it to a multiple view visual of Brown’s right hand. Brown lost his his right index finger in a vegetable shredder at age 7.  The much older than ag 7 fellow in the mystery photo still has his right index finger. That much is distinguishable in the blurry close-up – and, unless my eyes are deceiving me – that much alone is enough to conclude that the guy in the studio photo is NOT Mordecai Brown, no matter how he facially resembles a baby-fat younger version of the great Cubs star.

What follows are the blurry close-up of the studio pitcher’s hand, followed by the three-view shot of Brown’s actual hand. Draw your own new or revised conclusions.

This is fun, isn’t it? – The Pecan Park Eagle.



Close-Up of Mystery Ptcher's Right Hand.

Close-Up of Mystery Pitcher’s
Right Hand.


Mordecai Brown Three Views of His Right Hand

Mordecai Brown
Three Views of His Right Hand


19 Responses to “Mystery Pitcher”

  1. Bill McCurdy Says:

    SABR Photo Archive Specialist Bill Hickman left this comment by e-mail. It sort of confirms my extant column-expressed problems with our mystery pitcher’s form:

    “The “M” on the uniform may be for Mudville, for all I know. But seriously, I don’t think there is much chance of identifying this guy. Is there anything on the back of the photo which would give a clue? This looks like it was done in a photo studio. Sometimes the backs of the photos give the names of the studios and the towns in which they were located. My guess is that this was just an amateur player whose parents paid to have his photo taken, but I could certainly be wrong about that.” ~ BILL HICKMAN,

  2. emmettmcauliffe Says:

    it is probably “Mo”, i.e. short for Mordecai. Perhaps he was not a member of a team at that point in time, or for some reason it was not prudent to wear the uniform of the team that he was on (Trademark infringement? Photographer did not want to pay the rights to the Cubs? Maybe it was a publicity shoot while he was shopping himself to some federal teams?).

    BTW … 3-Finger was one of 14 St. Louis managers in the Hall of Fame. The others:

  3. gregclucas Says:

    Index finger looks too long for what I have seen, but facial similarities make it look like Brown.

  4. Mar.KFim0ff Says:

    His visible ear shape is distinctively different than that of Brown ,m therefore we know with certainty that he is not Brown. There are also other significant facial differences. Whether or not someone thinks he resembles Brown (he doesn’t) is irrelevant.

    • emmettmcauliffe Says:

      An actor playing Brown in vaudeville perhaps? Or production of some kind….

      • Mar.KFim0ff Says:

        The initial comment by Bill Hickman nailed it – “I don’t think there is much chance of identifying this guy….this was just an amateur player.” Anything more is wishful thinking.

      • emmettmcauliffe Says:

        Sorry if speculation bothers you.

      • Mar.KFim0ff Says:

        If the objective is to be informative to readers of this blog, what is the value of speculation with no basis.Why would this photo have anything whatever to do with Mordecai Brown?

  5. emmettmcauliffe Says:

    I do not know, what is the “objective” of the Internet? You tell me…

  6. Mar.KFim0ff Says:

    What you just said makes about as much sense as your above comment about the logo on the jersey of the player in question, “it is probably “Mo”, i.e. short for Mordecai…” I look forward to whatever further insight you my have to offer.

    • emmettmcauliffe Says:

      Still here? While there’s still somebody, somewhere on the Internet not being objective (whatever that means ) about something? Dont you have other dragons to slay?? Your work is done here, I think.

      • Mar.KFim0ff Says:

        Yeah, still here. I’ll stick around to make comments. But unlike you, I’ll limit them to things about which I have at least a little bit of knowledge.

  7. Rick B. Says:

    Bill last question in his final addendum to this post was, “This is fun, isn’t it? ” It’s supposed to be so. While this blog is an example of one of the positive aspects of the web, emmet’s and Mar.k’s spat here is an example of its negative side. If you two can’t play nice, please do all of us who enjoy this blog a favor and withhold your comments. Don’t ruin it by turning the comments section into the typical Internet hatefest.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Rick. I’m planning to address this very issue in tomorrow’s column. Too busy and too late to write tonight, but I know what you are talking about – and I didn’t like it either – nor will it be tolerated.

      The Pecan Park Eagle has been a fun place here at WordPress for six years, covering a wide range of subjects beyond baseball – and respectfully allowing difference of opinion without personal insult toward other participants by direct comment or innuendo.

      We plan to keep it that way.

      More tomorrow.

  8. Mar.KFim0ff Says:

    Rick – I appreciate your point of view send it wasn’t my intent to get into a spat with anyone when Bill H. (a friend of Bill McCurdy) referred me to this blog. Bill H.’s post (the first in the comments section) was indeed excellent, as were Greg Lucas’s comments. IMHO, my comments with respect to the photo in question were also useful and correct.

    I do a lot of early baseball photo analysis and have written quite a lot about it in SABR publications and newsletters. I also consult for auction houses, collectors, and some major libraries. In my view Emmett made it personal when he sarcastically said, “So speculation bothers you,” “you” referring to me.
    What I have seen over the years is a huge amount of outright fraud with repect to seller’s claims about such photos. In addtion to that, a lot of honest mistakes are made by buyers and sellers. Also, a lot of otherwise excellent books by SABR authors are to some degree spoiled by the inclusion of misidentified photos (sometimes a lot of misidentified photos). Some licensors of photos have a habit of contributuing to this problem. Given all that, when I see a blog that includes excellent comments about a mystery baseball photo by three ontributors (I will go out on a limb and say that one of them was me) followed by comments from another that ignored all of these and critiicized me for trying to add abit of science to this, then I think a response is warranted.

    I should add tha the type of thinking exhibited by Emmett about this photo often leads to the problems I have described above.

    • Mar.KFim0ff Says:

      I should add that with respect to my activities described above, I have previously seen this photo.

    • emmettmcauliffe Says:

      “I should add tha the type of thinking exhibited by Emmett about this photo often leads to the problems” … no you definitely shouldnt add that, you *should* leave it alone, let our host’s eloquent summary be the final word, but you *can’t* because youre constitutionally unable.

  9. Rick B. Says:


    Your response shows that you certainly have both a true interest and apparently a good degree of knowledge about the topic at hand. Your continued input could add a lot to the discussions on this blog.

    Now, this is obviously not my blog – I am only a (fairly frequent) contributor to the comment section – but I think there is key element to the comments which Bill addressed in today’s (2/13) post, namely civility. Somehow that courtesy got lost in the exchange between emmetmcauliffe and you, and that was the distressing element.

    I have no reason to doubt that you have the expertise about old photos that you say you do. Unfortunately, too many people today mistake their opinion for fact, and internet comment sections make this phenomenon obvious. If you had stated that this was a field of endeavor for you from the beginning, you would have established your credibility.

    I also appreciate what you said about memorabilia fraud and wanting to prevent it. It’s one reason I don’t collect items such as photos, autographs, and the like – unless I had such an item authenticated by a professional who had no personal stake in the transaction, I don’t think I’d ever trust that any such item was real.

    That being said, a caution – again, backed by the authority of your knowledge – would have been good, although I don’t think anyone was trying to authenticate the photo for sale (but who knows?).

    I have certainly given my opinions about issues and persons (like general managers of sports teams), and I tend not to hold back. I won’t get into an argument with other commenters, though. It’s counterproductive to what I believe Bill is trying to do with his blog here.

    So, in the words of the immortal “Bevery Hillbillies” theme song, “Y’all come back now, y’hear.” Just try to remember the maxim that a person can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  10. Mar.KFim0ff Says:

    RIck – thanks for the comments. I can tell you that “kid” photos of 19thC and Deadball Era HoFers in baseball uniforms of any kind – low minors, town team, whatever – are highly desired by collectors and command substantial prices. The younger and earlier the better, with collectors often searching for the “earliest” extant.

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