Jim Brosnan dies at 84; relief pitcher wrote inside look at baseball

Jim Brosnan dies at 84; relief pitcher wrote inside look at baseball
Former major league pitcher Jim Brosnan in 1964 relaxes at his home in Morton Grove, Ill., after he was hired by the American Broadcasting Company. He died June 28 at age 84. (Associated Press)

The relief pitcher known to his teammates as "The Professor" listened to Bartok, read Dostoevsky, sipped martinis and hauled a portable typewriter from stadium to stadium.

Over nine seasons in the majors, Jim Brosnan was a curveball artist who also wrote penetrating, ironic and irreverent books that are seen as the first to deliver a true, warts-and-all insider's view of the national pastime.


Brosnan, who left baseball to pursue a writing career that had already angered some team owners and fellow players, died June 28 in Park Ridge, Ill., family members said. He was 84 and had been in declining health.

In 1954 and from 1956 to 1963, Brosnan played for the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He was credited with 55 wins, 47 losses and 67 saves, but he is more widely known for his writing.

His 1960 book, "The Long Season," was praised by legendary sportswriter Red Smith as "a cocky book, caustic and candid, and in a way courageous, for Brosnan calls them as he sees them, doesn't hesitate to name names, and employs ridicule like a stiletto."

Written as a journal, the book took readers with the lanky right-hander during the 1959 season, when he threw for both the Cardinals and the Reds. While he steered clear of writing about players' on-the-road sexual conquests, he shocked a public accustomed to less honesty.

Analyzing his book years later, Brosnan said he had "violated the idolatrous image of big leaguers who have been previously portrayed as models of modesty, loyalty, and sobriety — i.e., what they were really not like."

Broadcaster and former player Joe Garagiola labeled him "a kooky beatnik."

Brosnan's 1962 book, "Pennant Race," included a passage about getting to the stadium in Cincinnati that he thought was one of his best:

"To get to Crosley Field, I usually take a bus through the old, crumbling streets of The Bottoms. Blacks stand on the corners watching their homes fall down. The insecurity of being in the second division of the National League — in the cellar — leaves me. For 25 cents, the daily bus ride gives me enough humility to get me through any baseball game, or season."

Born in Cincinnati on Oct. 24, 1929, James Patrick Brosnan started his professional career with a Chicago Cubs farm team when he was 17.

Brosnan quit baseball when he was 34, saying he was upset by major league restrictions that kept him from further writing.

"Quitting didn't bother me," he told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004. "I was a writer. I was going to be a writer."

After his retirement from professional sports, Brosnan wrote articles for a wide variety of publications, including Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Playboy and Boys Life. He also wrote baseball books for young players.

Brosnan's survivors include a son, Timothy; daughters Jamie Kruidenier and Kimberlee Brosnan-Myers; brother Michael; and four grandchildren.


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