Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings

With the second anniversary of TGOG fast approaching, I'm going to try and do something a little different. First, I'm going to not write about Fred Dunlap for awhile (hold your applause). That is just a dead horse, well beaten and I've bored even myself with the subject. Second, I've decided to pick one team from the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball and focus on until the subject is thoroughly covered or I get tired of the project.

For this particular project, I've decided to focus on the 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings. While I've often neglected the 1875-1877 Brown Stockings for various reasons, the 1876 version of the club has been even more neglected. They weren't the club that ended the tyranny of Chicago baseball in St. Louis and they weren't the club that got caught in a gambling scandal. They were just a darn good baseball team and if they have any historical legacy it would be that they took part in the inaugural season of the National League. Also, 1876 just happens to be the first season that is covered completely in the online Globe-Democrat archives.

So settle in and get used to hearing about this club. Certainly, I'll be posting other things as the mood strikes (and the research warrants) but I think it'll be fun to focus on one subject for awhile and not be so scatter-shot in my approach to blogging. I'm at the beginning of this project and the idea is rather new in my mind so I'm not sure what exactly is going to happen. How in depth I'm going to go I can't say but I think this is going to be fun. Consider this fair warning.

Now, some interesting, superficial numbers regarding the 1876 Brown Stockings that I meticulously researched by going to BRef:

-The Brown Stockings finished the season 45-19, six games back of the evil Chicagos.

-Technically, they finished third behind Hartford, who had 47 wins, but they had the second best winning percentage in the NL.

-They were not a particularly good hitting club, finishing sixth in runs scored in an eight team league. But they were a very good pitching and defensive club. The Brown Stockings finished first in ERA and in fewest runs allowed in 1876 and committed the fewest errors and had the highest fielding percentage in the League.

-Lipman Emanuel Pike (and it's very possible that I may from this time forward refer to Lip Pike as Lipman Emanuel Pike) had a particularly good year at the plate. He finished ninth in OBP, third in slugging, fourth in OPS, fifth in total bases, fourth in doubles, third in triples, and sixth in RBI. According to almost any advanced metric, Lipman Emanuel Pike was one of the top five hitters in the League.

-George Washington Bradley (and there's no reason to refer to George Bradley as anything other than George Washington Bradley) was most likely the best pitcher in the League in 1876. He led the League in ERA, ERA+, H/9, WHIP and shutouts. He finished second in wins, two behind Spalding, and was second in IP behind Devlin.

-There are some very familiar names on the club to anyone familiar with the history of 19th century baseball. Besides Lipman Emanuel Pike (and I'm going to have to create some kind of macro for that because Lipman Emanuel Pike is not as easy to type as it looks) and George Washington Bradley, the club also had the great Dickey Pearce, Herman Dehlman, Joe Battin and Ned Cuthbert returning from the 1875 NA club. They also had John Clapp, Denny Mack, Mike McGeary and, of course, Joe Blong (who appears to have behaved himself during 1876; but we'll see about that).

So I'm very excited about this. There's plenty of material to work with and it should make for an interesting story. And don't worry, it won't be the 1876 Brown Stockings 24/7 around here. I'll try to include a couple of posts each week about other things for the sake of variety but this is going to be the main project around here for the foreseeable future.


Mark Dehlman said...

I am just starting to research the hisotry of Herman Dehlman and you seem to have quite a bit of knowledge of the Brown Stockings, do you have any photos of Dehlman?

Thank you in advance
Mark Dehlman

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I don't, sadly. There is a picture of him at Wikipedia and Baseball Reference has the same pic but I don't have one. Pictures of StL players prior to the early 1880s are very rare. There may be another woodcut in the New York papers from when Dehlman played in Brooklyn and I'm sure there are photos out there somewhere but I haven't come across them.

Dehlman has always kind of faded into the background on those Brown Stocking clubs. It seems like he must have been kind of a quite guy who just did his job. Not a lot of quotes in the press from him, didn't get into any trouble unlike a lot of his teammates. I think he was a very good defensive first baseman and some of the statistical metrics back that up. Had a lot of range and got to a lot of balls. Not great with the bat but the Brown Stockings were built around defense and base-running (and there's superficial evidence to suggest that Dehlman was a very good base-runner as well).