Formal notices have been received of the engagement of Devlin and Snyder by the Louisville Club for 1877, and of Battin and Bradley by the Athletic Club for the same period.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 11, 1876
We have reports in the Globe on July 7 that the Brown Stockings signed Tricky Nichols for the 1877 season and here we have reports of George Washington Bradley and Joe Battin signing elsewhere for 1877. Leaving out the Battin signing for the moment, one would have to assume that the signings of Nichols and Bradley are related. Obviously, Bradley did not pitch for Philadelphia in 1877 (and Battin didn't play with them either, for that matter) but he did leave the Brown Stockings to pitch for Chicago. So it looks like Bradley was looking to leave St. Louis.
The timing of all of this is interesting. I don't think it's likely that Bradley's signing was a reaction to the Brown Stocking's signing of Nichols. There simply wasn't enough time between July 6 and July 10 for Bradley to get angry or upset over the Nichols signing, evaluate his situation and then engage in negotiations with the Athletics. Both the Nichols signing and the Bradley signing must have been in the works for a couple of weeks. It may be that Bradley was aware of the Brown Stockings interest in Nichols and reacted accordingly but I think it's more likely that the Brown Stockings were reacting to a desire by Bradley to leave the Brown Stockings.
Now, as I mentioned, neither Bradley nor Battin played with the Athletics in 1877 so it's possible that this was all rumor. I have a bit more work to do to run this down and the research is not complete. However, even if it is rumor (or something happened between the parties to nullify the agreement they made), it still is significant when looking at the 1876 season and the events that transpired to breakup the 1875/1876 Brown Stockings. It's also relevant to the events surrounding the 1877 Brown Stockings (and I think that's a nice euphemism).
But what this is telling me is that Bradley wanted out. And the question is why?
While I think I have enough evidence to answer the question, that is going to have to wait a few days. First, we have a great series between the Brown Stockings and Hartford to take a look at. Then I'll return to the question and talk about some rumors that were swirling around, show other players that were looking to leave St. Louis and present a rather shocking statement by Lip Pike that, I believe, ties everything together.