Tag Archives: Saint Louis Brown Stockings

“Boys of ’76”

5 Jan

On February, 2, 1925, The National League magnates “paused in (their) schedule deliberations” to honor the league’s past, and kick-off the diamond Jubilee celebration.

Thomas Stevens Rice, of The Brooklyn Eagle said:

“In the very same rooms in which it was organized on Feb. 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs met again yesterday.  These rooms are in what is now called the Broadway Central Hotel, then called the Grand Central Hotel.”

The Associated Press said:

“In the same room in which Morgan G. Bulkeley, of Hartford, Conn., was elected the first president of the National League, the baseball men, paid tribute to the character and courage of those pioneers a half century ago.”

Dozens of dignitaries were on hand, including, John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, John Montgomery Ward, and Governor John Tener

But, the stars that day were six of the surviving players who appeared during the league’s inaugural season:

George Washington Bradley, 72, who won 45 games for the St. Louis Brown Stockings; John “Jack” Manning, 71, who hit .264 and won 18 games as an outfielder and pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings; Alonzo “Lon” Knight, 71, an outfielder and pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1876 and hit .250 and won 10 games, and three members of the Hartford Dark Blues, Tommy Bond, 68, a 31-game winner; Tom York, 74, who played leftfield and hit .259, and John “Jack” Burdock, 72, an infielder who hit. 259. Also present was the only surviving umpire from the 1876 season–Calvin J. Stambaugh.

Calvin Stambaugh, right, the last surviving umpire from 1876 and Frank Wilson, a national League umpire from 1923 until his death in 1928.

Calvin Stambaugh, right, the last surviving umpire from 1876 and Frank Wilson, a national League umpire from 1923 until his death in 1928.

Other surviving 1876 players, including George Wright and and Al Reach cited “advancing age” for their inability to attend.


Seated from left: York, Bradley, and Manning. Standing: Bond.

 Bozeman Bulger of The New York World said, in relating a conversation between too of the attendees, the event was notable for another reason as well:

“(S)everal of us younger men, moving over closer, discovered a contradiction of a tradition long cherished, that old-timers never could admit any improvement in the game or in the quality of the players.

“‘Have you seen this young fellow, Babe Ruth?’ Bradley asked of Manning.

“‘Yes, indeed,’ admitted Mr. Manning, ‘and don’t let anybody tell you that we ever had a man who could hit a ball as hard as that boy.  I doubt if there will ever be another one.'”

Bulger said the “Boys of ’76” also talked about how they “fought crookedness when a salary of $1,800 a year was considered big pay for a star.”  Bradley, who after baseball became a Philadelphia police officer, said:

“‘Oh, we had crooked fellows following us around back in ’76.  They pretended to make heroes out of us and would hang around the hotels.’

“‘One day Mr. (Chicago White Stockings President, William) Hulbert, a very learned man, advised me to keep away from these men.  He explained how they could ruin a boy and lead others into temptation . I was often approached, but thanks to that wise counsel, I kept myself straight, and I thank God for it today.  It’s worth a lot to me to look you younger men in the eye and feel that in turning the game over to you, we gave you something that was honorable.  It’s up to the players to keep it honorable.”

Tom York summed up his feelings about the game in 1876:

“‘Say, do you remember how proud we used to be after winning a game, when we walked home still wearing our uniform and carrying a bat–and the kids following us?  Ball players–all except Babe Ruth–miss that nowadays.”



Bond and Manning talk pitching at the Golden Jubilee kickoff event in 1925.




“The most Extraordinary of the Championship Contests so far”

8 Feb

A game recap and box score from the National League’s inaugural season.  On August 26, 1876, the Chicago White Stockings defeated the St. Louis Brown Stockings 23-3 in Chicago.

Cap Anson, 50 errors in 1876

Cap Anson, 50 errors in 1876

Among the game highlights, White Stockings 3rd baseman Cap Anson made five errors, on his way to 50 for the season, Brown Stockings pitcher George Bradley also committed five (he only had 12 for the season) and the two teams combined for 28 errors.

The Chicago Inter-Ocean said the game was the turning point of the season in the White Stockings drive for the first league championship in a breathless, meandering report:

“The closing game of the Chicago-St. Louis series which was played Saturday at the Twenty-Third Street grounds, proved to be by all odds the most extraordinary of the championship contests so far.  As if determined to wipe out every record of the St. Louis having ever won a game from them, the Chicagos turned themselves loose and broke Bradley’s heart…Nearly 5,000 witnessed the game, and the enthusiasm rose at times to fever-heat.”

The story said Anson redeemed himself for his errors “two or three” of which were “comparatively easy balls,” by hitting a triple and a home run:

“Obtained on a terrible drive to right field which went clear to the fence…The Chicago batting was tremendous, and the visitors were kept on a continual hunt for the ball.”

The box score:


Albert Spalding, Chicago’s manager, and pitcher, who batted 7th started all but six of the White Stockings 66 games in 1876. Bradley, who batted third, started all 64 of the Brown Stockings games and pitched 573 of the 577 innings played by St. Louis—outfielder Joe Blong pitched 4 innings in one game.  Bradley also pitched the National League’s first no-hitter against the Hartford Dark Blues on July 15.  As expected with the number of errors, Bradley gave up 151 unearned runs for the season.

1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings, George Bradley

1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings, George Bradley, standing center, Joe Blong, standing left

After his 45-19 season for the third-place Brown Stockings, Bradley was acquired by the White Stockings in 1877, with Spalding moving to 1st base.  The White Stockings finished 5th with a 26-33 record, Bradley was 18-23.

St. Louis finished fourth, Blong split time between the outfield and the mound and went 10-9 for the Brown Stockings.


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