Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brown looks for renown

Slugger keen for big season

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He's the son of a former NFL standout who won a baseball title last season and has plans to become a cop. Yes, Winnipeg Goldeyes slugger Dee Brown is doing things his way.

Brown, 26, is one of the heavy hitters brought in this season by Goldeyes manager Rick Forney as he takes his Northern League club in a direction that he hopes leads to a championship.

"Dee's got a proven track record and some success in affiliated baseball and I didn't want to bring back a bunch of independent players," Forney said. "I wanted to change it up a bit and get some younger players who are a little more career-oriented instead of just being complacent and staying in the Northern League... Offensively, he's going to be a high-average, high on-base percentage player. He's capable of getting some big hits for us when we need them."

Brown, who spent the past four seasons in the Washington Nationals system, was fourth in hitting in the Carolina (A-plus) League last season with a .296 average as his Potomac Nationals won the pennant.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound outfielder brings a unique athleticism, a product of both genetics and dedication. His father, former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jerome Brown, was a beloved member of that team who died June 25, 1992 after a car crash, when Dee was just nine years old. The Eagles retired Jerome Brown's No. 99 that year and there's a community centre named in his father's memory in the family's hometown of Brooksville, Fla.

"I remember watching him, all the time," said Brown, who played both football (running back) and baseball at the University of Central Florida. "I was never pressured to play sports, I guess I just picked it up. I played football in college, but in my last year I decided on baseball. I liked playing football but I love baseball."

Brown, whose mother is a social worker, went back to Central Florida last year to complete his criminal justice degree after taking three years off from school to play baseball.

"I knew I would go back and get it (degree), education is something that was always very important to my parents," said Brown, who works at the Orlando law firm of Morgan and Morgan in the off-season. "You've got to get your education; you can't play baseball forever, it's something to fall back on. I'm trying to decide what I want to do with my degree, but I'd like to become a police officer."

Brown completed his college eligibility in 2005 and departed Central Florida as the school's all-time leader in hits and RBI. In the past four seasons, he's played at the AA and A levels and been a significant offensive contributor at every stop.

While the dream of making it to The Show is still there, Brown said he'll be content to have a good year with the Goldeyes and see what comes of that. The team's five-game winning streak to start the season -- marred slightly by two straight losses -- was a big step in that direction.

"It shows you the chemistry you've got on the team and you can see where you fall in and what you're supposed to offer to your team," Brown said before going 2-for-4 in Saturday night's 7-2 loss. "I just want to win. When you're winning, things tend to fall together for personal goals and the team."

T-Bones grill Fish

A quick start by the defending Northern League champion Kansas City T-Bones was met with a sputter from the Winnipeg Goldeyes on Saturday night at Canwest Park.

A crowd of 5,325 watched the T-Bones defeat the Goldeyes 7-2, a second straight loss for Winnipeg after a 5-0 start to the season. The two teams meet today at 1:30 p.m. for the third and final game of their series.

The T-Bones (5-2) started the game with hits by their first two batters and never looked back.

Goldeyes starting pitcher Ben Pfinsgraff (1-1) took the loss.

There was a new face in the Goldeyes' lineup Saturday night as newly signed catcher Hank Lanto, 25, arrived and played seven innings, giving Dustin Richardson, who had played six straight games, a break.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2009 C1

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