Troy Trojans 1879-80; Buffalo Bisons 1881-85;
Detroit Wolverines 1886-88; Boston Beaneaters 1889; Boston Reds 1890-91;
Brooklyn Grooms 1892-93; Baltimore Orioles 1894-95; Louisville Colonels
1895; Philadelphia Phillies 1896; New York Giants 1904
late 19th Century was a make or break time for professional baseball. Many teams relocated or disappeared completely,
but the seeds of the modern game were sown. Players like Cap Anson, Hugh Duffy, and Cy Young ushered the game into the
20th Century. In a game that was characterized by a slap hitting, "hit 'em were they aint" philosophy, "Big" Dan Brouthers
provided the power that brought fans out to the park.
Known as the "Babe Ruth of his era", Brouthers decorated career included five batting
and two home run titles. The premier 19th Century slugger led his league in slugging percentage six straight seasons
(1882-87), and was one of just a handful of players during that era to belt over 100 career home runs.
Brouthers career began with the semipro Wappingers Falls Actives in
1878. In 1879, he joined the Troy Trojans of the National League. Struggling mightily in the field (34 errors
in 39 games), he was shipped back to the minors.
The burley slugger surfaced with the NL's Buffalo Bisons in 1881 and was in the
majors to stay. During that season Brouthers topped the league in home runs with eight. In 1882 and 1883 he won
batting titles posting .368 and .374 averages, respectively.
Brouthers remained in Buffalo until 1886 when he was sold to the Detroit
Wolverines. He hit .370 and led the NL in home runs (11) and doubles (40). In
1887 he led the Wolverines to their first pennant. The team's success was short lived however, as the franchise folded
following the 1888 season. Brouthers was then awarded to the Boston Beaneaters.
After a batting
title (.373) with the Beaneaters in 1889, Brouthers jumped to the Boston Reds of the newly formed Players' League. The
League was an offshoot of the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, an association Brouthers helped form three years
earlier. The league lasted just one season, but the 6-2 205lb behemoth remained in Boston with the city's American Association
With that version of the Boston Reds, Brouthers edged out teammate and future Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy for the batting
title (.350). In 1892 Brouthers headed back to the NL, joining the Brooklyn Grooms. With the Grooms, he won his
final big league batting title with a .335 mark.
In 1894, Brouthers headed south to Baltimore joining the NL's Orioles. He
remained in Baltimore for just over one season, helping them win their first pennant before being sold to Louisville Colonels.
After the 1895 season Brouthers was shipped to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Following that season in Philadelphia Brouthers bounced around the
minors. In 1903, he played in the only quadruple header of the 20th Century when his Poughkeepsie team of the Hudson
River League lost four straight games.
In 1904, at age 46, the grizzled veteran
won the Hudson River League batting championship with a .373 mark. The strong season prompted a call up by the New York
Giants, where Brouthers went hitless in a two game stint before retiring.
Following his career, Brouthers worked as a scout for the Giants and later was placed
in charge of the Press Gate of the Polo Grounds. He served in that capacity until his death in 1932. In 1945,
the Baseball Hall Fame finally acknowledged Brouthers and seven other neglected turn-of-the-century stars by enshrining them
into its' hallowed halls.
-David Zingler, March 2003
Simply Baseball Notebook
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