The St. Louis Club, however, relies far more for success in the coming campaign on the friendship which exists among the players themselves, the perfect harmony which prevails in the nine, and the confidence reposed in each other by officers and players than on mere playing skill. Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert were the disturbing elements in the St. Louis nine last year, which is the only reason why Pike, at least, was not re-engaged this season. A better-natured and more harmonious team than the Browns of '77 could not be gathered together. "While I would like to win the championship," remarked one of the Directors at the game on Wednesday, "I would be far more gratified to see the boys work in harmony throughout the season, and establish a reputation for gentlemanly conduct on and off the field," and this sentiment is universally endorsed by admirers of the game in St. Louis.-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1877
So let me see if I can understand this correctly. With Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert, the Brown Stockings finished 39-29 in 1875, an outstanding 45-19 in 1876, and were the best club in the West both seasons. But Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert were "disturbing elements"* and had to go. In 1877, the Brown Stockings finish 28-32, lose money, have trouble meeting their payroll, have their manager and various players accused of bribing umpires and throwing games,and after the season try to sign a bunch of fixers from Louisville. As a result of all of this perfect harmony, the Brown Stockings collapse and almost destroy professional baseball in St. Louis. I think, in retrospect, it may have been a better idea to just keep the disturbing elements and try to win some baseball games.
And one more thing to chew on: the 1876 Brown Stockings had Joe Blong starting everyday in the outfield. What do you have to do to be labeled a disturbing element on a club with Joe Blong on it? Seriously, they got rid of Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert but kept Blong, Mike McGeary and George McManus. I'm thinking that that's poor team management.
*I love this particular turn of phrase and I'm going to start using it at work. "I'm sorry but can you stop being a disturbing element and actually do something productive?" And I'm stealing this whole asterisk thing, without apologies, from Joe Posnanski. Except I'm not going to put the note in the middle of the piece. I find that too jarring.