1878 Boston Red Caps

From BR Bullpen

1878 Boston Red Caps / Franchise: Atlanta Braves / BR Team Page[edit]

Record: 41-19; Finished 1st in National League (1878 NL)

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

The 1878 Boston Red Caps eighth season, defended their National League pennant with a second straight highly successful season - on the field. They were also known as the Red Stockings or simply as the Bostons.

There were significant changes to league membership following the 1877 season. In particular, the addition of the Providence Grays would prove to be problematic for Boston over the following years as it would lead to the exodus of players who would end up signing with the Grays.

For the Bostons, the off-season meant another change in the team’s lineup. The Cincinnati Red Stockings had decided to try their hand at winning a pennant, and signed Cal McVey as team manager. He was joined by his former Boston teammate Deacon White, and his brother Will White. Making his debut for Cincinnati that year was one Mike “King” Kelly. In Boston, third baseman John Morrill was moved over to first base, while shortstop Ezra Sutton was moved to third. Second baseman George Wright moved back to shortstop. Harry Wright signed two new players, Jack Burdock to play second base and Jack Manning to play right field.

The Providence Club would prove to be a formidable rival to Boston in the eastern half of the country. Tim Murnane jumped ship for Providence. Murnane was the first of several Boston players to join Providence over the next couple of seasons. While Boston may have won the pennant, it continued to lose money. It was reported that the team lost $2,230.85. This would justify the Triumvirs continuing to cut spending and even more tightening of the belts. Because of this, players started leaving the team to go play elsewhere where they would get better pay.

May 1st, Opening Day, saw the Red Stockings on the road where they defeated the Providence Grays, 1-0. Providence got revenge on Boston, defeating the Red Stockings in their home opener on May 4th by a score of 8-6. The two clubs continued to play each other while alternating between Providence and Boston until May 25th. Three days later the Chicago White Stockings came to town for their annual rivalry. This time the White Stockings won the three-game series, two games to one. Until the end of June, it looked as though Cincinnati would win the pennant as they had spent much of that time in first place. After a 4-1 Boston win over Milwaukee and a 7-7 tie between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, Boston moved into first place on July 2nd. After retaking the top spot for one day on July 5th, Cincinnati did not challenge for the top spot again. Except for about an eight-day period between July 16th and July 24th, Boston remained in first place for the rest of the season. They won their second straight National League pennant on September 12th with a 4-2 win over the Indianapolis Blues. It was also the team’s sixth pennant in eight seasons, counting their years in the National Association.

Statistically, right fielder Jim O'Rourke led the team in Runs (44), Hits (71), Doubles (17), Triples (7), Batting Average (.278) and tied with Third Baseman Ezra Sutton for RBIs (29). The team posted winning records against all clubs except for Cincinnati and Providence, against whom they had a 6-6 (.500) record. Overall, the team finished with a 41-19 record, going 23-7 at home and 18-12 on the road. It was not known at the time, but this was the last pennant that Harry Wright would win as baseball manager.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charles Bevis: "Arthur Soden: Baseball Owner & Capitalist with a Methodist Mission", Club President
  • Harold Kaese: Boston Braves: 1871-1953, Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA 2004. ISBN 978-1555536176. Originally published in 1948.
  • Denis Pajot: "1877 Winter Meetings: Scandals, New Rules and Franchise Changes" [1]
  • Albert Spalding: Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, A.G. Spalding & Bro., Chicago, IL, 1878, p. 62.