By Paul Letlow
The L Club
Construct ULM baseball’s Mount Rushmore and former pitcher Tom Brown is sure to claim a spot.
Armed with a 35-13 career record and 1.43 ERA over four seasons, the Neville High School product helped guide the school to a national NAIA runner-up spot in 1970 and was a second-team All-American in 1971.
Future visitors to Warhawk Field will now have a visual reminder of Brown’s incredible career as his jersey was recently retired by the university. Brown’s No. 8 now adorns the Maroon Monster along with the jersey numbers of Ben Sheets (15), Chuck Finley (31) and Coach Lou St Amant (24).
“It’s a really big deal,” Brown told the L Club shortly after the on-field ceremony. “I’ve been gone a long time and because of my baseball career, I haven’t been home in the summer time in I can’t hardly remember when.”
An individual who played and coached at every level of baseball, Brown made six major league appearances with the Mariners in 1978. He has spent the past 30 years sharing his knowledge, mostly as a minor league pitching coach. Brown is currently the pitching rehabilitation coordinator in the Cincinnati Reds organization but was able to get time off to attend the ceremony.
Great as his impact was on the program, Brown said the university and Monroe roots made an even bigger impression on his life. Friends, mentors and former teammates were on hand to enjoy the festivities.
“It’s really special,” he said. “I met my wife here and we got married as students here. All my friends from high school and youth league baseball and guys I played with are here. I really, really appreciate it.”
Brown’s return gave him plenty of chances to reflect on his accomplishments. “The older you get, the better you were. The stories are amazing,” Brown said. “The stories everybody comes up with are really funny. You start thinking about the stories they bring up and you forget. It’s been 40 years.”
Brown’s resume includes his legendary 17-inning win against Sam Houston in 1970 to help his team reach the NAIA World Series. Toiling in 105-degree heat in Phoenix, Brown struck out 14, walked one and allowed nine hits as he fired 204 pitches in a 2-1 victory.
“You never think about records when you play,” he said. “To be honest with you, I had no idea about any of those records. The thing I remember is throwing 17 innings against Sam Houston and beating them 2-1. And I remember leading the nation in ERA (0.51). Other than that, it’s nothing but teammates. It’s more the experiences with teammates, Coach St. Amant. That’s the special part.”