A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Dan Brouthers

Big Dan Brouthers

Big Dan Brouthers

1. He was born Dennis Joseph Brouthers in Sylvan Lake, New York (not far upriver from New York City) in 1858.

2. While playing semipro ball in 1877, he had a collision at the plate with the catcher. The catcher suffered head injuries and died a month later.

3. Part of the reason Brouthers was unhurt in the collision was his size. He stood 6′ 2″ and weighed 207 pounds, a large man in his day. It got him the nickname “Big Dan..”

4. In 1879 he began playing for nearby Troy in the National League. He remained there through 1880, when the franchise was liquidated and the players disbursed to other teams. Brouthers ended up in Buffalo.

5. He played in Buffalo from 1881 through 1885 establishing himself as a premier hitter. He led the NL in hits, triples, home runs,  and RBIs at various times. He also led the Nl in batting, OBP, and total bases twice; in slugging, OPS and OPS+ four years.

6. In 1886 he went to Detroit for a salary of $4000, a massive salary for the 1880s.

7. In Detroit he led the NL in various categories including adding runs scored and doubles titles to his list of accomplishments.

8. In 1887 Detroit won the NL pennant and faced St. Louis in the 1880s version of the World Series. Brouthers played in only one game, but Detroit won anyway 10 games to 5 (it was a 15 game series and all games were played).

9. He was vice president of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, so in 1890 he jumped to the PLayer’s League (he’d been sent to Boston in 1889). where he won the OBP title.

10. After the end of the Player’s League, Brouthers won two more batting titles, an RBI title, and while playing with Baltimore helped lead them to the 1894 pennant. He also played a handful of games with the pennant winning 1895 Orioles, but spent most of the season with Louisville. He retired after the 1896 season.

11. After retirement, he played some minor league ball, then hooked up with the Giants as the press gate man (he was in charge of letting the press into the park and checking their credentials). While there he got into two games in 1904, playing in the field in one of them. He went 0-6.

12. He died in 1932 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.

13. For his career his triple slash numbers are .342/.423/.519/942 with an OPS+ of 170.  He managed 2296 hits, 440 doubles, 205 triples, 106 home runs (fourth highest in the 19th Century), for 3484 total bases. He scored 1523 runs and had 1296 RBIs. He led his league in runs twice, hits three times, doubles three times, triples once, home runs twice, RIBs twice, in batting five times, in OBP five times, in slugging seven times, in OPS eight times, in OPS+ also eight times, and in total bases four times. He was considered a mid-range first baseman and pitched a little (he wasn’t very good at it). He gets my vote as the best hitter of the 19th Century and he also gets this great card:

Brouthers card from his Detroit years

Brouthers card from his Detroit years

I’m not certain if the card is legitimate. Brouthers was a left-handed hitter and the card has him hitting right-handed. It’s still a great little card.


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4 Responses to “A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Dan Brouthers”

  1. William Miller Says:

    From the picture, looks like he could have been a heavy-weight boxer back then. I certainly wouldn’t have messed with him.

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    So he was sort of the Pete Rose of his time, except that Pete Rose didn’t kill Ray Fosse.

    Brouther is from Sylvan Lake? That’s a very nice area. Mary Tyler Moore has a house near there in a neighboring town. It’s about a half an hour drive from where I lived when I lived in relatively yuchy Beacon, N.Y. 20 years ago, when I was the top bowling writer for the Newburgh Evening News. The City of Newburgh is right across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge from Beacon and is in Orange County, and has one of the highest per capita murder rates of any jurisdiction in the United States. If you ever drive through the City of Newburgh, especially around Broadway roll up your windows and lock your doors. Yes, even during the day.

    All I can say about Dan Brouthers is “OH, BROUTHER!”


  3. W.k. kortas Says:

    I’d always thought that Brouthers was one of the big guys who was one of the original New York “Giants”, but apparently that was not the case. I second Glen’s statements on Newburgh; when Poughkeepsie looks good in comparison, you have some issues.

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