REPORTS: Tigers pinch-hitting legend Gates Brown has died at age 74
One of the most accomplished pinch-hitters in baseball history, Gates Brown had a lasting legacy for someone who was never a full-time player.
According to several published reports, the 74-year-old Brown passed away Friday. [UPDATE: The organization has confirmed his death.]
Brown, who had recently been hospitalized in his fight with diabetes, had been in failing health for several years. He was able to attend this summer’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of the 1968 World Series championship, but came in a wheelchair, and only made it up on to the stage with the assistance of several of his teammates.
Signed by the Tigers in 1960 after serving time for burglary, Brown played 13 seasons in the big leagues -- all with the Tigers -- hitting .257 with 84 home runs. But he started in the field in just 386 of 1,051 career games, and at the new spot of designated hitter 117 times after it was added in 1973, two years before he retired.
He holds the American League record for pinch-hit at-bats (414), hits (107) and home runs (16).
Brown also played a large part in the Tigers’ last two World Series titles, coming off the bench in 1968 -- and hitting .370 with 15 extra-base hits -- and acting as a hitting coach for the 1984 team.
[UPDATE II: Funeral arrangements have been set for Brown, according to the team. There will be a public viewing from noon-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Swanson Funeral Home's Northwest Chapel. The address is 14751 West McNichols in Detroit.]