Boston Red Caps

From BR Bullpen

Boston Red Caps: (Apr. 22, 1876-Oct. 2, 1882)

Team History[edit]

The name Boston Red Caps is applied to the first seven seasons played by the Boston franchise in the National League, from 1876 to 1882. The franchise had no official nickname (besides the Boston National League Baseball Club) and the name has been applied retroactively, with little concern over whether it was actually used by anyone at the time.

When the National League was formed on February 2, 1876 at the Grand Central Hotel in Manhattan, New York, the league consisted of 8 founding members. 6 were from the old National Association, while 2 were brand new teams. Of the 8 teams that inaugural year, two of those teams had the same nickname: The Boston Red Stockings and the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Officially the team would use this name until 1888. However, to avoid confusion between the two Red Stockings teams, particularly Boston's first seven seasons in the National League, historians have given the nickname "Red Caps" to the Boston franchise.

Like the team's first season in the National Association, the 1876 season was one of uncertainty. This was due to the fact that over the off-season, most of the players left the Boston team, including founding players Al Spalding, Ross Barnes, and Cal McVey. They along with catcher Deacon White jumped to the Chicago White Stockings, when White Stockings' President William Hulbert offered them better deals. But Wright still had veteran Red Caps players in his brother George Wright, Andy Leonard, as well as Jim O'Rourke, Harry Schafer and Jack Manning, to go along with the newcomers, who included Harry and George's younger brother Sam Wright.

As with their first season in the National Association, the Red Caps did not win the inaugural pennant. The pennant instead went to the White Stockings. This gave Spalding and Barnes their fifth straight pennant, and McVey his fourth. The Red Caps however finished in fourth place, one slot lower than they had in 1871. During the off-season, Wright did as usual, his tinkering of the team to get better. It also saw the return of catcher Deacon White who now played first base. Wright's tinkering paid off. The Red Caps would then win the next two pennants, but were denied a third straight pennant by the Providence Grays, who were led by brother George. The team would decline over the next two seasons, producing back-to-back losing seasons.

During the off-season, Harry Wright left the team whether he was fired or resigned, is not known. What is known is that he would manage the Providence Grays for the next season. To replace Wright as manager, Red Caps owner Arthur Soden selected John Morrill to manage the team. Morrill would lead the team to a 45-39-1 record and a 3rd place finish in the standings. It was the team's first winning season since 1879. Prior to the start of the 1883 season, the team would drop the Red Stockings' name and would popularly be referred to as the Boston Beaneaters.

The only actual documented evidence that the team was ever referred to as the Red Caps comes from an article date October 12, 1884 by the Boston Globe, in which the headline reads "Buffalo beats the Boston Red Caps fourteen to five". After that the team is referred to as Red Stockings, Reds or Beaneaters.

Boston Uniform: 1884

Further Reading[edit]

  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)
  • Gary Caruso: The Braves Encyclopedia, Temple University Press, 1995
  • Harold Kaese: Boston Braves: 1871-1953, Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA 2004. ISBN 978-1555536176. Originally published in 1948.
  • A History of the Boston Base Ball Club ...: A Concise and Accurate History of Base Ball from Its Inception, M.F. Quinn & Company, 1897