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Ex-Spokane Indians ace Jackie Brown dies after long illness

Former baseball player Jackie Brown, who pitched for the Spokane Indians’ in 1973, died on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2016, after a long illness. (Cowles Publishing)
Former baseball player Jackie Brown, who pitched for the Spokane Indians’ in 1973, died on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2016, after a long illness. (Cowles Publishing)
By Jim Price Correspondent

Jackie Brown, personable pitching ace for Spokane’s 1973 Pacific Coast League champions, died Sunday in his hometown, Holdenville, Oklahoma, after a long illness.

Raised on a peanut farm, Brown had a 47-53 major league record in seven seasons with four teams and spent nearly 30 years as a pitching coach, nine of them with American League teams. He was 73.

The Texas Rangers, in the first of three seasons as parent club for the Spokane Indians, brought PCL baseball back to town in 1973 after the Los Angeles Dodgers moved their franchise to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Texas gave Spokane a pair of dominant teams, both managed by Del Wilbur.

In their debut, Brown put up a 10-1 record with a 2.34 earned-run average before Texas recalled him in early July. By then, the Indians were 13 games over .500. Brown went 5-5 as he finished the year with the Rangers. The Indians, led by four-time future major league batting champion Bill Madlock, won the Western Division by 11 games and swept Tucson in the best-of-5 playoffs.

The next year, Brown won 13 games as Texas rebounded from a horrid 57-105 season to finish second in the American League West. In 1975, he and Rick Waits, who had won 14 games for the 1973 Indians, were traded to Cleveland. Waits also became a major league pitching coach, most recently for the Seattle Mariners.

Brown served as Rangers pitching coach 1979-82. Paul Brown, his older brother, pitched briefly in the big leagues. Paul’s son, Daren, a longtime coach in the Seattle organization, managed the Mariners for the final third of the 2010 season after Don Wakamatsu was fired.

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