Skip to main content

Gates Brown- An Inmate Success Story


Gates Brown was born in Crestline, Ohio in 1939. A star athlete for Crestline High School, Gates unfortunately found himself with “the wrong crowd”, and he spent some of his youth at the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. 

Brown would later find himself at the young age of 18, sentenced to 2 years at the Ohio State Reformatory for breaking & entering.  While imprisoned at the Reformatory, Brown played on the prison’s baseball team and his talent caught the attention of inmates and guards alike. It has been said that the other inmates didn’t like playing with Brown; because no matter what they threw his way he would hit the ball over the 25FT prison wall, and the guards couldn’t be bothered to go retrieve it. 

The coach of the OSR’s baseball team would then go on to contact major league baseball scouts to come watch Brown, and as a result, he would be paroled early to go play for the Detroit Tigers. 

Brown had a long and successful career in major league baseball, and we could spend hours and pages talking about his stats throughout the years. But one of his most notable achievements came in 1968  when the Detroit Tigers won the World Series Championship and the American League Pennant. 

Just like Bennett Cooper, much more can be said about Gates Brown. Unless speaking of Andy Dufresne, people don’t usually see redemption & success when it comes to life behind bars. But Gates Brown is one success story we are proud to share as a part of the history of the Ohio State Reformatory.