Dan Brouthers was one of baseball’s 19th-century superstars, a five-time batting champion who also led the NL in slugging percentage each of his first six full seasons. Particularly large for his era at 6’2″ and 205 lbs., mustachioed Big Dan sported a lusty lefthanded swing that produced a career .343 batting average, ninth-best of all time.
After parts of 1879-80 with Troy, which included two unsuccessful starts as a pitcher, Brouthers became a regular in Buffalo in 1881 and led the NL in home runs and slugging percentage. He won his first batting title in 1882 with a .368 mark, and repeated the next season by batting .374. His average would not dip below .300 until his token appearance with the Giants in 1904, eight years after his initial retirement.
Brouthers joined Detroit in 1886 and hit .370 while leading the league in home runs (11), doubles (40), and, for the sixth consecutive season, slugging percentage. Although his average dropped to .338 and .307 the next two years, he led the league in doubles and runs each time, then moved on to Boston, where he regained the batting title with .373 in 1889. He jumped to the one-year Players League in 1890, helping Boston to the league championship, then joined Boston’s American Association club in 1891, where he edged teammate Hugh Duffy for his fourth batting title. Back in the NL with Brooklyn in 1892, he led the league in hitting once again (.335) and also led in hits and RBI.
A capable barehanded fielder at first base, Brouthers made his best contributions at the plate. He went 6-for-6 on July 19, 1883, and on September 10, 1886, he blasted three home runs, a double, and a single for 15 total bases. When his ML career was done, he played in the Eastern League, winning a final batting title with a .415 average. He remained in baseball when former teammate and Giant manager John McGraw placed him in charge of the Polo Grounds press gate for many years. In 1945, when a dearth of turn-of-the-century stars was addressed by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee, Big Dan Brouthers was among the eight inducted.