Dan Brouthers: Forgotten Hero
The other day when I was doing some research I came across some information on Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers who played from 1878 until 1904. I’ve always known that Brouthers grew up in the Hudson Valley near where I am from but I never knew too much about him. While reading about the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1890s I learned that Dan Brouthers is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in the village of Wappingers Falls. Knowing I was going to be near there this past Sunday, my wife and I decided to go and see if we could find his grave.
Located right in the middle of Wappingers Falls, off of Main Street (Route 9D), St. Mary’s Cemetery is located behind St. Mary’s Church. The cemetery dates back to the 1850s and is still active today. Civil War, World War I and World War II vets are buried near people who have passed recently. It really is a fascinating place to visit, the history and beauty of the gravestones is incredible.
After searching for about 15 minutes, we were able to track down the grave of Brouthers and his wife, Mary Ellen. It is a very modest grave (shown) and it gives no indication of Dan’s baseball accomplishments or even his date of birth or death. If you were not a student of baseball history and knew what you were looking for, you would pass by this grave and not give it a single thought. Lost among history, Dan Brouthers is forgotten about.
Wanting to know more about Brouthers and his Hall of Fame career, I immediatley began researching him and was suprised to find that there is not much information out there. With the exception of his Wikipedia and Baseball Reference pages, there is nothing dedicated specifically to his life and career.
Dan Brouthers was born in Sylvan Lake, NY (near Hopewell Junction, NY) on May 8,1858. Brouthers began his career in 1879 with the Troy Trojans (who later became the New York Giants) and he would later play for the Buffalo Bisons, Detroit Wolverines, Boston Beaneaters, Boston Reds (Players League and American Association), Brooklyn Grooms, Baltimore Orioles, Louisville Colonels, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants. Known as ‘Big Dan’, Brouthers was one of the first great power hitters of professional baseball. While his 106 career home runs is not impressive by today’s standards, Brouthers played exclusively in the Dead Ball Era and his total ranks 4th all time for the 19th century.
Brouthers, who retired in 1904 after making a brief comeback with the New York Giants, had a .342 lifetime batting average / 106 HR / 1,296 RBIs / 2,296 hits / .519 SLG / .423 OBP and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 by the Veterans Committee. With the exception of his batting average (9th all-time) and on base percentage (13th all-time), his numbers pale in comparison to modern players but for his day these numbers were legendary and he is often referred to as the ‘Babe Ruth of his era’.
Sadly, as time goes by, ballplayers from this era are talked about less and less and they fade into history. They become ghosts who played a less developed game. This is the way the world works and it is common throughout history that the stars or heroes from well over a century ago are overtaken by the next generation. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth by Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, Williams and DiMaggio by Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and George Brett by Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey, Jr., Bonds and Griffey, Jr. by Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. Baseball evolves and the new replaces the old. It is sad that the start of a new generation, the older generation is forgotten about and such is the case with Dan Brouthers.
I am going to continue researching Brouthers in hopes that I am able to learn more about his life and career, hopefully I will be able to shed some light on him.