New Hampshire’s Fred Brown went smoothly from baseball to political game

Fred Brown’s nine career games in the major leagues are merely a footnote in a life far more distinguished because of his political achievements.

After two years at Dartmouth College, Brown made his major-league debut with the Boston Beaneaters in 1901 under Amherst-born Frank Selee, the future Hall of Fame manager. He appeared in seven games that season and just two in 1902.

Realizing he didn’t have much of a future in pro baseball, Brown began reading law with Somersworth attorney James Edgerly.

He played the 1903 season with the Double-A Jersey City Skeeters, helping them to the Eastern League title, before enrolling in the Boston University School of Law in 1904.

He continued to play professional ball in the low minors, spending time with New England League franchises in New Bedford, Haverhill, Nashua, and Lowell, as well as Plattsburg, N.Y., of the Northern League.

Brown graduated from Boston University in 1906 and was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar that same year. He became Somersworth’s city solicitor in 1910, a position he held for four years before making his first foray into politics with his election as Somersworth mayor in 1914.

Brown was mayor until 1922, while concurrently serving as the United States District Attorney for New Hampshire.

In 1922, the state’s Democratic power brokers convinced Brown to run for governor, an office that had been in Republican control for 65 years.

Upon his election, Brown immediately curbed state spending, which helped eliminate the budget deficit and right a balky economy that had suffered through a downturn in business after World War I. Two other major initiatives included pushing for a 48-hour work week and eliminating the poll tax on women, two issues which were strongly opposed by the Republican-dominated legislature.

Brown lasted just one term as governor, however, and was defeated by Republican John Winant in his bid for re-election in 1924.

After a brief return to private law, Brown again reentered the political ring when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932 for one term before being appointed to a 15-year term as Comptroller General of the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939.

Illness, however, forced Brown to retire from public life and he returned to Somersworth in 1941.

Brown died in Somersworth in February 1955.

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