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Dan Brouthers

Position: First baseman
Teams: Troy Trojans, 1879-1880; Buffalo Bisons, 1881-1885; Detroit Wolverines, 1886-1888;
Boston Beaneaters, 1889; Boston Reds, 1890-1891; Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 1892-1893; Baltimore Orioles, 1894-1895; Louisville Colonels, 1895; Philadelphia Phillies, 1896; New York Giants, 1904


Dan Brouthers
Dan Brouthers played on a record nine
National League teams during his career.

By any standard, Dan Brouthers was the greatest hitter in the game’s first period from 1871 (the founding of the National Association) to 1893, when the pitcher’s mound was established at its present 60960 distance from home plate. Brouthers captured five hitting titles and was at one time or another a league leader in every major batting department.

Dennis Joseph Brouthers (1858-1932) was initially a pitcher. He reached the National League in 1879 with the Troy Trojans. After three undistinguished twirling efforts, he was converted to a full-time first baseman.

Unlike most great hitters, Brouthers struggled at the plate in the majors at the outset, returning to semipro ball in 1880 for further seasoning. Back in the NL the following year with Buffalo, Big Dan teamed with Deacon White, Hardy Richardson, and Jack Rowe to give the Bisons an attack so devastating that the quartet came to be labeled “The Big Four.” Brouthers soon emerged as the acknowledged club leader and one of the game’s first great stars by topping the circuit in batting in 1882 and 1883.

When Buffalo encountered severe financial problems in 1885, the franchise was sold to Detroit in mid-September for $7,500. National League president Nick Young attempted to void the deal, believing it would swing the pennant unfairly to Detroit. When the quartet refused to return to Buffalo, however, Young allowed them to remain in Detroit provided they not play in any games against pennant contenders. So, the Big Four had to sit out the last three weeks of the season as all Detroit’s remaining games were with teams in the race for the flag.

Allowed to play for Detroit in 1886, Brouthers led the league in homers. The following season, he sparked the Wolverines to their only pennant. Poor attendance forced Detroit to fold after a fifth-place finish in 1888. The Big Four broke up as a result, with Brouthers being awarded to the Boston Beaneaters. In his first year in the Hub, Big Dan promptly won his third batting title.

In 1890 Brouthers won a flag with the Boston Reds in the Players League, and the following season he was on the pennant-winning Boston Reds in the American Association. He played on one last pennant winner in 1894 with the fabled Baltimore Orioles.

Altogether, Brouthers played on a record nine different National League teams during his career. The ninth and last was the New York Giants, for whom he got into two games toward the end of the 1904 campaign at age 46. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Here are Dan Brouthers' major league totals:


.342 1,673 6,711 1,523 2,296 460 205 106 1,057 235

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