Byron Ellis Browne (born December 27, 1942) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He played for the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies between 1965 and 1972.
Browne was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent on September 9, 1962 and then drafted by the Cubs from the Pirates in the 1963 first-year draft. In his first Major League at-bat, for the Cubs on September 9, 1965, Browne lined out in the second inning of Sandy Koufax's perfect game. He played in parts of three seasons with the Cubs, hitting .236 with 16 home runs in 134 games. He also led the league in strikeouts in 1966 with 143.
Browne was traded by the Cubs to the Astros on May 4, 1968 in return for Aaron Pointer but he only played in 10 games with the Astros, with three hits in 19 at-bats. The Cardinals purchased him from the Astros on February 12, 1969, and he played in 22 games for the Cardinals, hitting .226 while spending most of the season in AAA with the Tulsa Oilers.
Browne, along also with Curt Flood, Tim McCarver and Joe Hoerner, was traded to the Phillies for Richie Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson on October 7, 1969. Challenging Major League Baseball's reserve clause, Flood's refused the trade and his subsequent lawsuit against Major League Baseball went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which in 1972 ruled against Flood. By 1975, however, arbitration effective reversed the Court's verdict, voiding the clause, which led to today's free agency system among major league professional athletes.
From 1970 to 1972, Browne was a member of several mediocre Philadelphia Phillies teams. Although a few teammates described Browne as having the best natural power on the team, he seldom delivered, particularly in the clutch. To some cynics, his chief contribution was the refreshing breeze on hot and humid South Philadelphia evenings which emanated from his regular swings and misses. In 183 games for the Phillies he hit .237.
Browne's son Byron Browne, Jr. played 10 years in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.
By Dean Hanley
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