Even though Roy Brashear was born two years before James “Farmer” Burns, it was the latter who beat the former in terms of becoming the first man born in the city of Ashtabula to reach the majors.
And the St. Louis Cardinals.
And to play for manager Patsy Donovan.
However, unlike Burns, who played one game for Donovan’s Cardinals on July 6, 1901 only to never again appear in a major-league game, once Brashear reached the majors, and the Cardinals, and Donovan, he had staying power.
At least relative to Burns, Ashtabula’s first major leaguer.
Roy Parks Brashear was born in Ashtabula on Jan. 3, 1874. He was the second of five children of James and Elizabeth (McGahey) Brashear, following older brother Walter, born in December 1870, and preceding three younger siblings.
After growing up in the city, he plied his baseball skills wherever possible. Finally, at age 24, he got a chance to play professionally, hooking up with the St. Joseph Saints, a Class B minor-league franchise in the Western Association. The Saints were based in St. Joseph, Montana.
A stout 5-foot-11, 190 pounder who threw and hit right-handed, Brashear’s natural position was first base, though he would see considerable time at different positions throughout his career.
He appeared in nine games for the Saints in 1898, hitting .222 with 10 hits, including two doubles, in 45 at-bats, scoring six runs and stealing four bases.
Brashear moved on to the Bloomington Blues, a Class B team based in Bloomington, Ind., in 1899, and it was a struggle for the native Ashtabulan. Appearing in only 14 games, he hit but .157, going 8 for 51, scoring six runs and stealing seven bags.
However, upon turning 26, something clicked for Brashear. Now playing for the Sioux City Cornhuskers out of Sioux City, Iowa of the Western League, he moved to the middle of the infield and flourished.
Appearing in 66 games at second base and 40 at shortstop for the Cornhuskers, Brashear hit .311, posting 373 at-bats in 97 games. He went 116 for 373, with 19 doubles and three triples, scoring 64 runs and proving to be fleet of foot as he pilfered 37 bases. He was also good handling the bat as he laid down 16 sacrifice bunts.
The excellent season at Sioux City in Class B ball earned Brashear a promotion to Class A, where he played the 1901 season for the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League.
Brashear’s fine play continued there as he hit .302, going 140 for 463 in 119 games, with 21 doubles and a pair of triples.
The back-to-back fine seasons proved to be Brashear’s ticket to the majors.