Mace Brown was born on May 21, 2009 in North English, Iowa. He had to confine his high school athletic accomplishments to the track oval, not the baseball diamond. His high school did not field a baseball team so, although he caught for the town team during the summer, he threw the javelin for his alma mater. His arm earned him a track scholarship to the University of Iowa in 1927.
Persistent presence at the baseball field caught the attention of the Iowa coaches, who after giving him a tryout, put him on a baseball scholarship. He played catcher in 1928, his sophomore year, but in 1929 Vogel moved him to the pitching mound.
That summer, after his junior year, Mace pitched semi-pro ball for a team from Marshall, Minnesota, of the Southern Minnesota League. By accepting money, he forfeited his amateur status and became ineligible for further competition in college baseball. He opted not to return to the university to finish college, instead signing with the Cardinals’ organization in 1930. For four years he endured an exhausting series of career promotions with stops in towns like Greensboro and Durham, North Carolina; Shawnee, Kansas; Des Moines; and Tulsa.
In May 1935, he made his big league debut for the Pirates, and over the remainder of the season won four games in eighteen appearances. He won seventeen games between 1936 and 1937, achieving an ERA of 4.00.
The 1938 season was perhaps Mace's finest campaign. That year he led the Pirates with fifteen wins, buttressed with five saves and a 3.80 ERA, in a league-leading fifty-one appearances. His efforts landed him a roster spot on the 1938 National League All-Star team.
The next two seasons passed quietly and in 1941, after he’d pitched only one and one-third innings during the young season, the Pirates sold his contract to the Brooklyn Dodgers in April. In August Brooklyn loaned him to the Cubs’ farm club in Los Angeles, and he was sold to the Boston Red Sox in December.
Mace pitched well in 1942 and 1943, but in 1944 he joined the fight by accepting a commission as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, in the United States Navy. Sworn in at Raleigh, North Carolina, he reported to the Norfolk Naval Training Station, where he pitched for the base team. He remained in Virginia until the following March, when he was transferred to a Naval Air Station in Hawaii. He was sent to Guam where he served with the Marine Corps Island Command. His duties included touring the Western Pacific Theater with the Navy’s all-star team.
In January 1946, Mace was discharged from the Navy. He worked to return to a modicum of baseball conditioning, but at age 36, it was an insurmountable challenge. A nagging spring training elbow injury limited him to eighteen appearances for the Red Sox that season, and in September he pitched in his final regular season game. Less than a month later, in October, the Sox released him and, soon thereafter, he retired as a player.
Despite retiring as an active player, Mace remained in baseball. The next season, 1947, he signed on as a scout and instructor with the Red Sox. He remained in that capacity for eighteen years, finally joining the major league club’s coaching staff for the 1965 season. The next year, at age 57, he returned to full-time scouting for the Red Sox, a job he retained until 1979, when he reduced his role to that of consulting.
Mace Brown passed away on March 24, 2002 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the age of 92.