...an occasional series wherein I raid my kids' baseball card collections or my own and profile a one-time Chicago Cub.
Today’s guest Paper Cub is no less than a cousin of former big leaguer Ellis Burks.
Who: Roosevelt Brown, outfielder, 1999-2002
How The Cubs Got Him: Plucked him out of the Florida Marlins’ system in the December, 1997 Rule V Draft.
What He Did While They Had Him: Mostly tore up the Pacific Coast League—playing at Class AAA Iowa from ’99-’01, he hit .358, .309, and .346, with big HR and RBI numbers to match.
He played for the Major League Cubs in those same seasons plus 2002, and the results were much less remarkable. In ’02, for example, when he spent the entire season on the Chicago roster, he played 111 games—about half in the outfield, the other half as a pinch-hitter—and hit a meager .211/.299/.314, with a dismal OPS+ of 63.
Worse yet, he struggled defensively, and his base-running caught the attention of Cubs manager Don Baylor…and not in a good way. Said Baylor after a game against the Reds in June of '02, when Brown got himself tagged out going from first to second on what would have been a sacrifice fly, “There’s no excuse for that, and it almost cost us a ballgame.”
Overall, Brown collected 442 at-bats in 228 games as a Cub, hitting .251/.311/.407, with 11 HR, 69 RBI and an OPS+ of 87. (Truth be told, over the years, players with lesser numbers than Brown's have seen much more playing time in a Cub uniform.)
How The Cubs Got Rid Of Him: Released him on November 12, 2002. Brown, 26 years old at the time, felt the Cubs never gave him the full shot he deserved to show what he was capable of. He left for Japan, where he played two seasons for the Pacific League’s Orix Blue Wave. Brown hit .307 and .269 in his two years overseas.
Coincidentally, Brown’s manager in Japan, Leon Lee, was the Cubs’ Pacific Rim scouting coordinator from ’98-’02 and, even more coincidentally, is the father of current Cub star Derrek Lee.
Brown returned to the States, signing in January of '05 with Atlanta, the team that had originally drafted him as an amateur. The Braves gave Brown a quick look, then released him in March, at which point he caught on with the White Sox. He played the '05 campaign with the Sox' Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte and was released, once and for all, after the season.
Something Positive Someone Once Said About Him: "Rosey has worked very hard. He came to me and said he wanted to play center field. He's done everything we've asked him to do." (From Don Baylor, speaking during Spring Training, 2002, right before Rosey came north with the team and started dropping fly balls and making bad baserunning decisions that cost Baylor’s team critical runs.)
Box Score To Remember: BROWN 4 2 2 7 (Pirates @ Cubs, 10/6/01)