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Legion Baseball / Steve Elling : Precious Mettle Changes Brown From Tin to Iron

June 28, 1989|Steve Elling

When Chris Brown was pitching for the Taft High junior varsity, his teammates nicknamed him "Tin Man." It seems that when Brown walked to the mound, it was like a trip down the Yellow Brick Road--with an emphasis on yellow.

"It was the 'Wizard of Oz' thing," Brown said. "The Tin Man had no heart."

Former major league infielder Chris Brown was first stuck with the nickname because of his tendency to miss games because of minor ailments. Yet, after Taft's Brown proved his mettle during his senior season, teammates tacked on a new moniker. "They upgraded it to 'Iron Man,' " Brown said.

As a senior, Brown started 13 games and completed 11. He pitched 90 1/3 innings, tops among Valley-area City Section players. He finished with a record of 9-3 and an earned-run average of 2.94.

Brown, a right-hander, hasn't slowed while pitching for Woodland Hills East (8-3). Saturday, Brown (4-1) pitched eight innings of relief in a 5-2 win over Glendale and Sunday he threw a complete game in a 5-0, seven-inning loss to Panorama City. He leads District 20 pitchers with 47 innings pitched.

As it turns out, it's a good thing Brown lost Sunday, because the national Legion rule book prohibits coaches from using a pitcher for more than 12 innings in three calendar days--and Brown threw 15 in 24 hours.

"Losing the game took them off the hook," District 20 Commissioner Mel Swerdling said.

Brown said that he didn't mind putting in the extra innings since he'll be out of the country on vacation for the next two weeks. "It'll give the other pitchers a chance to catch up (statistically)," Brown said. "I'll be missing three or four starts."

Left out: Infielder Paul Geller batted .333 (20 for 60) last season as a senior at El Camino Real High. But by using one line of reasoning, it could be said that he was playing at only 50% of his capabilities.

Previously a switch-hitter, Geller stopped batting left-handed when he slumped during his junior year.

Maybe Geller doesn't know what's good for him. After 40 at-bats for Woodland Hills West, Geller has 20 hits, 18 as a left-handed batter.

Make me an offer: On paper, Saturday morning's game between Woodland Hills West (12-2) and Newhall-Saugus (10-2) will feature the best teams in District 20. And if a certain player doesn't put his pen to paper soon, West may be in more trouble than it knows.

Newhall-Saugus pitcher Roger Salkeld, the Southern Section 3-A Division Player of the Year from Saugus High, has until Friday to sign with the Seattle Mariners or he becomes Legion property until the season's end. Legion rules state that players drafted by a major league team--Salkeld was the No. 3 selection in the June 5 amateur draft--must sign by June 30 or be allowed to complete the Legion schedule.

"If he doesn't sign, he's on the hill for us Saturday," Newhall-Saugus Coach Tom Pedersen said.

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