By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Dan Brouthers – Signed by the Bisons in 1881
Buffalo baseball fans would have been quite excited if they had the chance to see Mickey Mantle play here in his prime. They sort of had the chance when they watched Dan Brouthers suit up for the Herd in the early 1880s.
Brouthers grew up in the Hudson Valley, and first signed with Troy in 1879. He was quickly dropped by that National League team. The first baseman received another chance in 1880, but was cut again. The Bisons signed him before the 1881 season, and all the first baseman did when given the chance is to lead the NL in home runs and slugging percentage. Brouthers kept it up for the next five seasons, winning two batting titles and was known as one of the most feared sluggers in the league.
Buffalo came upon hard financial times late in the 1885 season, and Brouthers along with the rest of the roster was traded to Detroit. He essentially played through 1896, finishing with a career batting average of .342. Brouthers showed he could run once stolen bases were tracked; he had as many as 34 in a season. That sort of power and speed caught the eye of voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he was inducted in 1945.
Here’s a modern look at Dan’s swing:
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)