By Glen Sparks
Maybe “Bunny” Brief couldn’t get around on a good fastball. Maybe it was the 12-6 curveball that gave him fits. Or, maybe he just didn’t like the big crowds. Whatever the case, Brief struggled mightily to hit Major League pitching.
The first baseman and left-fielder played four seasons, 1912-13, 1915 and 1917, for the St. Louis Browns, the Chicago White Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He only accumulated 569 at-bats, about a season’s worth for a starter. In total, he hit .223 with five home runs and 59 RBI.
Here is a little bit of background on “Bunny” Brief: He was born Anthony John Grzeszkowski on July 3, 1892, in Remus, Mich. He later changed his name to Anthony Vincent Brief. (Your guess is as good as mine as to why he played pro ball as “Bunny” Brief.)
Bunny might be just another player forgotten to baseball history. Except for one thing. He absolutely crushed minor league pitching. I mean, he hammered it. The right-handed batter holds the all-time American Association record with 256 home runs. He collected eight home run titles—five in the A.A., two in the Michigan State League and one in the Pacific Coast League. He belted 302 minor-league home runs.
Brief also led the American Association in RBI five times and in runs scored two times. He put together his greatest season in 1921, as a member of the Kansas City Blues. Brief belted 42 home runs, drove in 191 runs and scored 166 times, to go along with a .361 batting average and a .685 slugging percentage.
The pro baseball career of “Bunny” Brief began in 1910. He broke in as a 17-year-old with the Traverse City Resorters of the Western Michigan League, the WMIL, and hit just two home runs in 354 at-bats. The league expanded state-wide the following year, and Brief topped the Michigan State League in homers in 1911 (10) and 1912 (13).
Brief spent most of the 1913 season with the Browns but was back in the minors the following year. He enjoyed his first big season in baseball in 1916, whacking 33 homers for the Salt Lake City Bees of the PCL.
Bunny’s big run came from 1920-1926, leading the American Association five times in home runs during that seven-year span. He quit playing in 1928 but managed the Wausau, Wisc., Lumberjacks of the Northern League to a 60-55 mark and a fourth-place finish in 1938.
Bunny Brief never did much in the majors. But, he was a minor-league success story.