Dan Brouthers

From BR Bullpen


Dennis Joseph Brouthers
(Big Dan)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 207 lb.

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1945

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"Brouthers really was a great hitter, one of the most powerful batters of all time. . . I don't think I ever saw a stronger hitter." — John McGraw

"Frank Bancroft . . . thinks that Brouthers is the greatest hitter the world ever saw . . ." - Sporting Life, October 28, 1893

Dan Brouthers, who has been called the Mickey Mantle of his era, had the highest Adjusted OPS of any 19th Century player. He ranks # 7 all-time on the Black Ink test of appraising performance. He led the league five times in on-base percentage and seven times in slugging percentage.

Brouthers started in baseball as a semi-pro pitcher, but came to the majors at age 21 primarily as a first baseman.

Brouthers while playing for the Buffalo Bisons

Very tall for his time at 6 ' 2 ", Brouthers broke in with the Troy team in 1879. At the time, the National League was a struggling young league, and played far fewer games each year than it does today. Brouthers played for Troy for a couple years, and then became a star with Buffalo in the early 1880's.

The Buffalo Bisons were a team with several well-known players, including The Big Four of which Brouthers was one. The player/manager was Orator Jim O'Rourke, and other players included Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, Davy Force, Orator Shaffer, Deacon White, and Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin. In spite of all the talent, the team did not win the pennant during Brouthers' years with them.

Brouthers was a dominant player with the Bisons. He led the league in batting average and on-base percentage in 1882 and 1883, and led the league in slugging percentage all five years that he was with the Bisons.

From 1886 to 1888 he was with the Detroit Wolverines, a team which also picked up several of Brouthers' teammates from Buffalo. Detroit was a much more competitive team, winning the National League pennant and the Temple Cup in 1887. Brouthers had a good year, but in 1887 Hall of Famer Sam Thompson was the top player on the team. Brouthers had continued to lead the league in slugging in 1886, but in 1887 was second behind his teammate Thompson. In 1888, Brouthers was in the top five in batting average and on-base percentage (as he had been since 1882), but he dropped to seventh in slugging percentage, the first time since 1880 that he wasn't #1 or #2.

The year 1889 found him back in top form again, playing for the Boston Beaneaters which finished only one game out of first place. Brouthers won the batting championship, and was second in on-base percentage and slugging.

1890 was the year of the Players League, and Brouthers played for their entry in Boston, the Boston Reds, which finished first. Brouthers led the league in OBP but was not in the top five in either batting or slugging.

When the Players League fell apart, Brouthers joined the Boston Reds of the American Association, another major league of the time. Brouthers thus had the privilege of playing for three different major league teams in Boston. As usual, Brouthers was the star of the team, and the team won the pennant. Brouthers led the league in batting, on-base percentage, and slugging, with teammate Hugh Duffy second in batting average.

Brouthers came back to the National League in 1892, playing for the Brooklyn Grooms and winning the batting title. In 1893 he was not as dominant a player.

In 1894 he and Willie Keeler were traded to the famous National League Baltimore Orioles, perhaps the best team of the 1890's. They won the pennant, and although the 36-year-old Brouthers was not the masterful player that he had been, he was still second on the team in slugging. The team included such luminaries as Wilbert Robinson batting .353, John McGraw batting .340, Hughie Jennings batting .335, Steve Brodie batting .366, Joe Kelley batting .393, and Willie Keeler batting .371. Brouthers batted .347.

That was to be Brouthers' last important season. The next year he appeared in only 29 games, mostly with Louisville. In 1896 he was in 57 games with Philadelphia, batting .344, and many years later in 1904, he appeared in 2 games with the New York Giants, managed at the time by his former teammate John McGraw.

He also played minor league ball after his major league days were over and scouted for the Giants.

The November 30, 1907 issue of Sporting Life refers to Brouthers as the Giants' "chief scout".

In later years, it is said that McGraw got him a job as night watchman at the Polo Grounds, along with Amos Rusie, and sometimes after games Brouthers, Rusie, and McGraw would sit around and reminisce about old times.

Brouthers has one of the top ten highest batting averages of all time. There is no player truly similar to Brouthers, but all ten of the most-similar players to Brouthers are in the Hall of Fame, with the most similar being Roger Connor, another 19th century player. Brouthers has been compared to Mickey Mantle as well, due to the proclivity that both of them had for high on-base percentage along with high slugging average.

He played virtually all of his games as a first baseman. His brother Jimmy Brouthers played minor league ball.

A field in Wappingers Falls, NY is named Brouthers Field after him, and there is a monument to him there, calling him "the Iron Man of Baseball". Brouthers is buried in Wappingers Falls, which is only a few miles from his birthplace of Sylvan Lake, NY.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 5-time League Batting Average Leader (1882/NL, 1883/NL, 1889/NL, 1891/AA & 1892/NL)
  • 5-time League On-Base Percentage Leader (1882/NL, 1883/NL, 1887/NL, 1890/PL & 1891/AA)
  • 7-time League Slugging Percentage Leader (1881-1886/NL & 1891/AA)
  • 8-time League OPS Leader (1882-1887/NL, 1891/AA & 1892/NL)
  • 2-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1887 & 1888)
  • 3-time NL Hits Leader (1882, 1883 & 1892)
  • 4-time NL Total Bases Leader (1882, 1883, 1886 & 1892)
  • 3-time NL Doubles Leader (1886-1888)
  • NL Triples Leader (1883)
  • 2-time NL Home Runs Leader (1881 & 1886)
  • 2-time NL RBI Leader (1883 & 1892)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1887, 1889, 1891, 1892 & 1894)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 8 (1886-1892 & 1894)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1945

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Playoffs Notes
1906 Newburgh Hill Climbers Hudson River League -- -- replaced by Clarence Ochs

Further Reading[edit]

  • Roy Kerr: Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball's First Great Slugger, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7864-7560-5

Related Sites[edit]