ARLINGTON -- Former Rangers pitcher Jackie Brown, who was known as the "Oklahoma Curveballer" and later became a Major League pitching coach for three organizations, has passed away after a long illness. He was 73.
Brown pitched for the Washington Senators in 1970-71, the Rangers in '73-'75, the Indians in '75-'76 and the Expos in '77. He had a career record of 47-53 with a 4.18 ERA in 214 games, including 105 starts.
Tom Grieve was a longtime teammate and roommate of Brown's and called him one of the best friends in baseball.
"He is a guy a lot of people felt was their best friend," Grieve said. "He was always in a good mood, the perfect teammate, one of those guys that everybody thought the world of."
Brown's best year was in 1974 when he was part of a Rangers team that shocked the baseball world under manager Billy Martin. The Rangers were 57-105 in '73, but turned it around and went 84-76 in '74, finishing second in the American League West to the defending World Series champion A's.
Brown, pitching in a rotation that included Ferguson Jenkins and Jim Bibby, made 26 starts and nine relief appearances, going 13-12 with a 3.57 ERA in a career-high 216 1/3 innings.
"Good guy … one of the best guys there is," former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg said. "He loved baseball, loved the camaraderie and the concept of teammates. He always had great stories. He was always a lot of fun to be around."
Brown was born and raised in Holdenville, Okla., growing up on a peanut farm, raising grand champion hogs and playing catcher in high school. After school, he played with the Natural Gassers in Oklahoma City, but switched to pitching when the manager made his nephew the catcher.
Brown won five games for the Gassers and was signed by the Phillies in 1962. He spent seven seasons in the Phillies' organization before being released in '68 and signing with the Senators. He finally made his Major League debut July 2, 1970.
Brown's time with the Rangers came to an end June 13, 1975, when he was traded to the Indians along with Bibby and Rick Waits for Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. The Indians traded him to the Expos after the '76 season.
After retiring as a player, Brown was a pitching coach for the Rangers in 1979-82, White Sox in 1992-95 and Devil Rays in 2002. The '93 White Sox led the American League in team ERA and won the AL West title. Jack McDowell was also the AL Cy Young Award winner that season.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.