1881 Boston Red Caps

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1881 Boston Red Caps / Franchise: Atlanta Braves / BR Team Page[edit]

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

The 1881 Boston Red Caps, also known as the Red Stockings or simply the Bostons, played the eleventh season in franchise history. They started off their season full of promise, but after a dismal first half followed by a better second half, they ended up with a second straight losing season.

January 20th marked the tenth anniversary of the creation of the Boston Base Ball Association (aka Boston Red Stockings). To date the club had had an overall record of 441-202-10 (.683) and had won a total of six league pennants. Other than the Chicago White Stockings no other club had won two pennants in major league baseball. Within the team and the organization, only the Wright Brothers - Harry and George - as well as a returning Ross Barnes could claim to have been around when the club was first formed in 1871, although Harry was the only individual who had been with the team for every one of its seasons. However, by the end of the year all three would be gone from the team.

During the off-season, Pop Snyder returned after being away for a year; The O'Rourke brothers left the club, with Jim O'Rourke signing with Buffalo while John O'Rourke signed with the Philadelphia Athletics of the Eastern Championship Association. Manager Harry Wright moved Ezra Sutton over to third base and put Ross Barnes at shortstop. Charley Jones sat out the next three seasons, while P/OF Curry Foley also signed with the Bisons. Wright himself signed a pair of former Bison outfielders, Joe Hornung and Bill Crowley, to fill the voids. Joining the pair in the outfield was Fred Lewis from the San Francisco Bay City of the California League. Rounding out the team's starting nine was pitcher Jim Whitney.

For the second straight season, the Red Stockings opened the season on May 2nd on the road against the Providence Grays, earning a 4-2 win. The next day the Grays returned the favor by beating the Red Stockings, 7-1, in Boston’s home opener. By the end of the month, Boston had a 9-9 record and reached as high as second in the standings.

Boston opened the month of June with a 7-1 loss to the Cleveland Forest Citys, which dropped the club into fifth with a 9-10 record. This marked the start of a six-game losing streak. The streak would come to an end with a 10-9 win over the Detroit Wolverines. A second win against the Wolverines and a win against the Chicago White Stockings moved the club up to sixth place. By July 2nd the club had dropped to eighth place, where it would spend most of the month. A 4-3 win over the Troy Trojans started an eight-game winning streak which put the club in fourth place on August 10th. In September, the club went on a nine-game losing streak which dropped it to sixth. They finished the season by winning five out their last nine games to end up at 38-45. Statistically, team captain John Morrill led the club in runs (47), doubles (19), RBIs (39), and strikeouts (30); Ezra Sutton led the team in hits (97), and batting (.291); Joe Hornung led in triples (3) and home runs (2).

The annual meeting of the Boston Base Ball Association was held on December 21st at 766 Washington Street. President Arthur Soden was in the chair. Frederick E. Long was chosen Secretary pro tempore in the absence of Harry Wright, who had left to take the managerial position with the Providence Grays. Mr. Long declined and Mr. William R. Smart was chosen instead. Allan Chase, treasurer of the association then submitted his report for the past year, in which it appeared that the receipts from the season tickets were $630; fines, $176.67; gate receipts, $19,686.01; donations, $758. The total receipts amounted to $21,647.42. The principal expenses were: For traveling, $3559.22; salaries, $11,672.95; sundry expenses, $1178.62. The cash on hand is $75.08. The total expenses of the club were $21,572.34.

President Soden submitted the report of the board of directors, showing that the liabilities of the club have been reduced about $2700 the past year. This was the last meeting in which the team’s profitability was disclosed, due to Billings' increasing influence on the club. Then came the report from the board of directors. The board apologized for the poor performance of the team this past season. The report further states in substance that the directors have spared no effort to make the team a success and that they have allowed Harry Wright to a manage the team without interference dictation by the board of directors either individually collectively. However, it was apparently not enough, and, in the end, Harry Wright had to go. It was reported that Arthur Soden had shed tears over Wright's departure but had been outvoted by both Billings and Conant.

The report closes with the opinion that the corporation ought to be run on business principles to make it a success. Seventy-seven shares of stock were represented in the meeting forty in person and thirty-seven by proxy. Mr. Allan Chase, Mr. Eliot Mayo and Mr. Edward Pope were appointed to receive sort and count ballots for officers for the ensuing year and reported that the following were elected: President, Arthur H. Soden; Treasurer Allan J. Chase; Secretary Franklin F. Roundy; Directors Arthur H. Soden, Allan J. Chase, James B. Billings, William H. Conant, and Edward F. O’Brien. O’Brien and Conant are the new members on the board of directors taking the place of directors Russell Munroe and Eliot Mayo. The team named Morrill to replace Wright as manager. It should also be noted that from this time forward, no Boston manager would attend league meetings as a club officer.


Stat Team League Rank
Batting .251 .260 7th
On Base Percentage .279 .290 8th
Slugging .317 .338 6th
Home Run 5 10 t-7
ERA 2.71 2.77 5th
Fielding .909 .905 3rd

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charles Bevis: “James Billings”, James Billings
  • Boston Daily Globe Thursday, December 22, 1881, pg. 6
  • Edmund P. Edmonds: Arthur Soden's Legacy: The Origins and Early History of Baseball's Reserve System, 5 Alb. Gov't L. Rev. 38 (2012) Reserve System
  • Harold Kaese: Boston Braves: 1871-1953, Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA 2004. ISBN 978-1555536176. Originally published in 1948.
  • Bob Le Moine: “Boston Braves Team Ownership”, Boston Owners
  • Dennis Pajot: “1880 Winter Meetings: The Most Harmonious of all the League Meetings”, SABR 1880
  • John Snyder: Dodgers Journal: Year by Year & Day by Day with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers Since 1884 (c)2009 Clerisy Press, Cincinnati, OH
  • Albert Spalding: 1882 Spalding Baseball Guide AG Spalding & Bros., Chicago, Ill., pg. 96