Tom Brewer was a pitcher in the American League who spent all eight years of his career playing for the Red Sox. During his time with the Sox, he compiled a 91-82 record from 1954 to 1961.
Brewer was born on September 3, 1931 and grew up in Cheraw, South Carolina. An extremely skillful player growing up, he began playing for his high school team in seventh grade and did not begin pitching until his senior year. He ended up playing for his high school team for six years total, and his jersey number, 13, was retired by Cheraw High School in November 2006.
The Sox began scouting Brewer while he was in high school and wanted him to sign with the team after graduating, but Brewer wanted go to college first. With that in mind, he decided to attend Elon College, now Elon University, on the advice of Mace Brown, the scout that had been working with him.
He attended Elon beginning in the fall on 1950 and began playing for the varsity team in 1951 when he was converted to being a pitcher, again on the advice of Brown. That year his team won the North State Conference and he was selected to the all-conference team.
Things were looking good for Brewer, but earlier during the year in January of 1951 he had received a draft notice from the U.S. Army. While he knew he could probably get out of going into the service, he didn’t think that it was the right thing to do, and instead signed a minor league contract to set more of a foundation for his career that he could build on when returning from the service. Thus, he signed with the Red Sox and spent a season playing for the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms in the North Carolina State League of Class D. That season, he went 19-3 and posted a league best 2.55 ERA.
Despite his successes, on December 3, 1951 it was time for Brewer to step out of baseball for a bit. That day he was drafted into the Army and served for two years until December 1953.
His time away did no damage to his major league prospects, though; he stayed on the diamond while stationed at Camp Atterbury, Indiana and was named to the All-Army team in 1952, posting a 35-7 record in two years.
Brewer began playing with the Sox in 1954 and posted a 10-9 record during the season over 162.2 innings. His 1955 season got off to a slow start, and he didn’t post his first win until May 27th of that season, which was his ninth start. Things picked up in June of that season and he posted four wins, though, and finished the season with a record of 11-10 with an ERA of 4.20, which was an improvement on his 4.65 ERA of the previous season.
Whereas 1955 started out slow, the start of 1956 was just the opposite. In what was the best season of his career, Brewer had a record of 11-3 by the All-Star break and was selected to play in the All-Star Game. Heading into his last start of the season, Brewer was working with a 19-9 record and an impressive 3.50 ERA. Additionally he had thrown fifteen complete games and four shutouts, all while allowing opposing hitters to hit only a .220 average against him.
Brewer was inline to pitch during the final game of the season and hopefully record his twentieth win of the season, but that would not end up being the case. Before the start the team told him that he was only a 20-game pitcher and that they did not want him to hurt himself permanently. This ended up being a savvy move, as during the off season he worked to rehab his damaged elbow throwing elbow, curing pain and swelling that had been bothering him.
He entered the 1957 season as the consensus most valuable pitcher for the organization. He got off to a fast start once again, but cooled down in June and was not selected for the All-Star Game again. That season he finished 16-13 for a Red Sox team that finished 82-72 overall.
Brewer would never reach his success of 1956 again. In 1959 he slipped a bit more, going 12-12 with a 3.76 ERA, and then in 1959 he went 10-12, his ERA climbing again to 3.76. Things only got worse in 1960 when he posted a 10-15 record with an ERA of 4.82. You can see his full stats here:
In 1961 he was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career and was incredibly limited all season. He went 3-2 in what would be his final season, as he was never able to fully recover because of the shoulder injury that he had sustained.
Today, the baseball field at his high school is named after him, and there is a scholarship given in his name to a member of the Cheraw High School team. Today, at the age of 83, he still resides in his hometown and is a pitching coach for the very high school team that he grew up playing for.