Friday, January 15, 2010

The Brown Stockings Sign Tricky Nichols

Nichols, the New Haven pitcher, has signed a contract to play with the Browns next season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 7, 1876

You have George Washington Bradley on your team and he's having a fantastic season. You know it's not a fluke because he had a nice year for you in 1875. He's twenty-three years old and you figure he has a nice future in front of him. So what are you doing signing Tricky Nichols? There are a few different possible answers to this question but I think I'm just going to leave it for now and revisit the question in a few days. Let's just note that the Brown Stockings signed Tricky Nichols early in July of 1876.


Richard Hershberger said...

Change pitcher seems the obvious answer. Even in those days a team needed more than one pitcher. Looking at Nichols' numbers, you wouldn't want this guy as your starter.

David Ball said...

He pitched in late August for Boston, and I have read that he failed to agree with them on salary terms and left after one game. I had assume Boston's attempt to sign him covered 1877, but if he was still under contract to St. Louis, perhaps it was only for what remained of 1876.

It's strange to have a man playing for one team and contracted to play for another in the future, and they soon changed the rules to forbid this.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Patience, patience.

Sorry about being all cryptic with this but I'm trying to go about this in a chronological manner and you're getting the information as I experience it, reading the Globe on a day-by-day basis. We have the advantage of knowing how the story end and we can thereby recognize an event as being significant when it didn't necessarily appear that significant at the time. And the Nichols signing is significant.

The pertinent question is why was there this large turnover in the Brown Stockings roster going into the 1877 season? I think it's a question that's been largely ignored and left unanswered. Cash didn't really address it (and largely ignored the 1876 season to begin with). I think when the question was considered at all, there has been assumptions about what took place and these assumptions have failed to address the core issues that surrounded the club in 1876.

Needless to say, I think I have the answer to why things happened as they did (or at the very least, I have a new interpretation of events based on the contemporary sources). I think that, based on the evidence, I can explain why you had a large turnover in the roster and why Graffen left the club unexpectedly in September.

I'm thinking that on Tuesday I'll have more information posted that will start addressing this larger question. I'll have to figure out how to present everything because at the same time there's this fantastic series against Hartford in StL, with Bradley at center stage, and I want to get to that. So what I'm probably going to do is throw out another little clue on Tuesday, hit the Hartford series and come back to this with some interesting rumors that were being reported at the time and teammates publicly stabbing each other in the back and statements being retracted and a team that's basicly falling apart.

As much as I love the Dostoevskian use of dramatic tension, I'll spoil everything right now and tell you that it all goes back to McGeary.