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MLB Lockout, The Free Agency Frenzy

The MLB Lockout has been raging on for three months, and following the cancelation of the first two series of the MLB season, this fiasco needs some explaining. The CBA, or Collective Bargaining Agreement, occurs between the MLB and the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association), and without one, games cannot commence. The CBA needs to be renewed every five years, and if an agreement is not reached before the end of December 1st, there are three options for proceeding.

The first of these options is that the MLB can enforce a lockout, which is voted on by the owners. A lockout means that players cannot be in contact with coaches or a team’s front office, and it is the option currently in effect. At any time, the owners can vote to remove the lockout and start a new season using the expired CBA, which is the second option. Using this, they can completely prevent a loss of games, but in this case the MLB believed that instating a lockout would stimulate negotiations.

Playing under the old CBA has one downside, and that is the fear of the players striking if they are unhappy with the ongoing negotiations for a new CBA. This would mean that no games would be played until an agreement is reached, and that is what happened in 1994, the only season not to have a World Series since 1904. A strike allows for the owners to have a season, but not with any members of the MLBPA. In the case of 2022, the owners have instated a lockout, and regular season games have already been canceled.

Right before the lockout, MLB had debatably its most exciting week of free agency in recent history. With the lockout impending, many free agents wanted to guarantee a contract before the lockout, knowing that there would not be much time to sign after the lockout ends. Between November 26 and December 1st, the free agent market was explosive. On Black Friday, the Mets stole the show, signing Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, and capping off the night with Starling Marte (note that all of the players mentioned who signed a contract agreed to the contract on the given date, but officially signed it at a later date).

Starling Marte
Starling Marte while playing for the Pirates.

Following the Mets spending spree, that weekend saw many other free agent signings. Saturday, November 27th, was a relatively quiet day and there were not any major free agent signings. However, there was a trade between the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres which sent Adam Frazier to Seattle in exchange for two prospects, one a lefty reliever and the other an outfielder.

The following day, there were an abundance of contracts being signed. The day began with a headlining 100 million dollar extension for noted speedster Byron Buxton, who will be the Twins center fielder for the next eight years barring a trade. Not too long after, Marcus Semien, who broke the record for most home runs by a second baseman in a single season, signed a deal with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, who had a lackluster 2021 season, were far from done with signings for the next couple of days.

This was followed by a few smaller deals, including Avisail Garcia agreeing to a four year deal with the rebuilding Marlins, as well as Jon Gray leaving the pitching nightmare that is Colorado and joining the up-and-coming Rangers. Then, Kevin Gausman, one of the biggest pitching names on the market, signed a five year, $110 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto, who had a stellar offense in 2021, was in desperate need of pitching all year, and Gausman, who was relatively affordable considering his dominance in the last two seasons, is hoped to fill that role.

Late that evening, reports came out regarding Max Scherzer, an almost certain first-ballot Hall of Famer who has dominated the sport for the past eight years, signing a deal with the New York Mets. At the 2021 trade deadline, Scherzer did not want to be traded to a cold place, including New York, so this news came as a shock. Most of the baseball world expected Scherzer to stay with L.A, or if not there another team on the west coast. The reports continued through the night, providing more details on what a completed contract would look like, but Mets fans were still skeptical, as a similar situation occurred the prior offseason, resulting in Trevor Bauer signing with the Dodgers after he was reportedly signing with the Mets.

As morning came, a deal was still not agreed upon. Mets fans grew wearier by the minute, but when the clock hit quarter to one in the afternoon, Max Scherzer agreed to a record-breaking 3 year, $130 million deal, giving him the highest annual salary in baseball history. Scherzer is on the board of the MLBPA, so the baseball community was anxious to see whether he would wait to sign until after a new CBA is agreed upon, but most believe his signing was due to the incredible offer made by the Mets, one that is almost impossible not to accept.

File:2016-10-13 Max Scherzer pitch NLDS Game 5 for the Nationals 05 (cropped).jpg
Max Scherzer pitching for one of his former teams, the Washington Nationals.

Just a mere two hours later, the Mariners had found their ace, signing AL Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray to a five year deal worth $115 million. Ray, though shaky in the past, had a breakout year in 2021. This deal hurts the Blue Jays almost as much as it helps the Mariners, as the Blue Jays had in essence replaced their Cy Young Award winner with a pitcher of a similar caliber, but instead of growing their pitching staff, it become more of a replacement. Also, less than an hour later, the Rangers made their third splash, signing perennial all star shortstop Corey Seager to a 10 year, $325 million deal.

The Texas Rangers had gone from a weak middle infield, with the likes of Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, to a record- breaking second baseman and a young, extremely talented shortstop. The day ended with two relievers signing rather insignificant deals, one involving Daniel Hudson to the Dodgers, and the other involving Kirby Yates, a pitcher with incredible potential, but an inability to stay healthy, to the Braves.

Early in the morning of November 30th, the MLB and MLBPA had another bargaining session prior to the lockout. The meeting was extremely unsuccessful, almost confirming the fears of a lockout going into effect. The last day of November brought fewer significant signings than the previous day, but the catching market was almost completely exhausted, with Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes signing that day. As the sun went down and all optimism between the two sides was dissipating, Raisel Iglesias, closer for the Angels, resigned for four years.

Then came December 1st, the final day before the lockout was instated. The meeting held between the MLB and MLBPA was brief, lasting seven minutes and completely killing any hope of the sides striking an eleventh-hour deal. After the likes of James Paxton (Red Sox) and Corey Knebel (Phillies), two injury-riddled pitchers, signed in the morning, fans were not sure how the rest of the day would unfold. Javier Baez agreed to a deal not too long after with the Detroit Tigers, the last $100 million deal signed before the lockout.

As the day went on, Chris Taylor resigned with the Dodgers, and Mark Melancon signed with the Diamondbacks. With only a few hours remaining before the lockout, Marcus Stroman, via Twitter, announced his deal with the Chicago Cubs, marking the last non-international signing before the lockout. As the lockout loomed just thirty minutes away, the Boston Red Sox traded star outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers, for two promising prospects and Jackie Bradley Jr. That is the last deal the MLB has seen involving Major League Players.

Although the lockout is negative, a case can be made that it created the best week of free agency in baseball history. Over the past ten years, free agency has been marked with sporadic deals, ranging over a three month period. The fear of a lockout changing the way contracts are structured scared almost half of the notable MLB free agents to sign a deal in a week’s time. Over the past five seasons, there were very few weeks where there were multiple $100 million contracts signed, and the best of those weeks was headlined by Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, who both signed $300 million plus contracts. In the weeks before the lockout, there were seven $100 million plus contracts.

That week was more exciting than many off-seasons put together. Once the lockout finally ends, it will create a similar free agency wave, but even more condensed. With the MLB hoping to start spring training games a week after a CBA is agreed upon, it will not give players much time to choose a destination and make arrangements to be there for their first game. With the likes of Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, and Kris Bryant still yet to sign, the immediate time after the lockout ends will make fans forget parts of the despair the lockout brought. Hopefully a CBA is agreed upon soon, resulting in at least 130 games played. Meanwhile, new excitement surrounding free agency may change the player signing process forever.

A Real Connecticut Yankee’s Baseball Career Cut Short

This article was published on ConnetcticutHistory.org on April 20, 2020.

Danny Hoffman’s story reminds sports fans of the fragile nature of a professional athlete’s career. An up-and-coming baseball star discovered playing on the lots of Collinsville, Connecticut, Hoffman played in the majors under legendary manager Connie Mack before joining the New York Yankees (before they were even known as the “Yankees”); but one pitch dramatically changed his career trajectory.

Hoffman was a native of Canton, Connecticut, attended local schools, and frequently played ball in the Collinsville section of town. There, a scout from the Connecticut League’s Springfield, Massachusetts, franchise discovered Hoffman and offered him a contract. Once in Springfield, it did not take long for major league teams to take an interest in him and Hoffman eventually signed with the Philadelphia Athletics to play for Hall-of-Fame manager Connie Mack in 1903.

Daniel J. Hoffman in a Philadelphia Athletics baseball uniform, 1906 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Hoffman an Early Hit with Philadelphia Athletics

As the Athletics headed up to Boston to play the Red Sox in the summer of 1904, baseball experts considered Hoffman one of the more promising young players in the majors. When Hoffman (hitting a career-high .299 with three home runs) stepped to the plate against Red Sox left-hander Jesse Tannehill, however, an errant pitch struck Hoffman in the right eye, ending his season.

Back with the A’s in 1905, Hoffman’s statistics dropped off precipitously. He utilized his great speed to steal 46 bases that year, but he struggled against left-handed pitching—causing Mack to regularly pull Hoffman out of the lineup against lefties.

Hoffman lasted one more year with the A’s before joining the New York Highlanders (who later changed their name to the New York Yankees). He spent two relatively unproductive years in New York before joining the St. Louis Browns in 1908 and then ending his major league career 3 years later. Hoffman tried to make it back to the majors by playing for St. Paul of the American Association and then Wilkes-Barre of the New York State League, but his comeback ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Daniel J. Hoffman, St. Louis Browns, American Tobacco Company baseball card portrait, 1911 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Once-Promising Talent Sidelined by Injury

Life after baseball saw Hoffman become a resident of Bridgeport. Having invested his baseball earnings wisely, Hoffman resided in a beautiful home on Stratford Avenue in the city’s east end. He became a very popular figure in Bridgeport and at one point local residents and civic leaders encouraged him to purchase the city’s struggling Eastern-League baseball team, but Hoffman slowly began retreating from public life.

In 1921, he left Bridgeport to move in with his parents in Manchester. Local residents reported rarely seeing Hoffman in public after that. Seven months after the move, in March of 1922, the Hartford Courant reported that Hoffman had passed away at his parents’ home due to “a general breaking down in health.” He was just 42 years old.

Lou Gehrig Used Fake Name as a Rookie on the Hartford Senators

This article was written by Norton Chellgren and published in the 1975 Baseball Research Journal

On April 5, 1921, the Hartford Senators of the Eastern League in their first exhibition game of the season beat Columbia University 4-3. The big story was a Columbia player, Lefty Gehrig, who hit Hartford pitcher Alton Durgin for two long home runs in his only two trips to the plate. A. B. McGinley of the Hartford Times described the second home run like this: “When he came up again in the 3rd inning, Durgin the lofty Maine boy who was pitching for Hartford was all set for revenge. He got a strike on Gehrig but the next one he threw Gehrig leaned on and it went sailing out of the enclosure past a big sundial and almost into the School of Mines. It was a mighty clout and worthy of Babe Ruth’s best handiwork.”

Lou Gehrig, First Baseman, Columbia University, 1922.

The young player greatly impressed Hartford Manager, Arthur Irwin, a former major league player and manager. The two home runs would have cleared the center field fence at Clarkin Stadium, Hartford’s home park, and Irwin saw a promising future for the young baseball player.

Clarkin Stadium, Hartford, Connecticut, 1921.

The big first baseman, it was later reported, had promised Irwin that he would play under him if he decided to enter professional baseball. Several big league teams had been trying to sign him but all indications were he would stay at Columbia University. Subsequently, on June 2, announcement was made by Manager Irwin in the local newspapers that the hard hitting semi-pro from Brooklyn, Lefty Gehrig, had been signed to play first base for the Senators. It was assumed by some that he had decided to quit school.

Arthur Irwin, Manager, Hartford Senators, 1921.

The next day the newspapers were apparently requested or advised not to call further attention to the Columbia athlete’s real name and from that day on they referred only to that young player from New York, “Lewis” or “Lou Lewis.” On June 3 (1921) the Hartford Senators beat the Pittsfield Hillies 2-1. Lou Lewis played the full game at first base. In his O. B. debut, he was 0 for 3 with one sacrifice hit against Pittsfield hurler Al Pierotti, who later went up to the Braves.

Lou Gehrig batting for Columbia University, 1921.

After that initial game the Hartford Courant wrote “Lou Lewis, Arthur Irwin’s latest discovery was planted on the initial sack. The youngster who is only 18 years old (actually he was still 17) appeared to be a bit nervous. After he gets used to surroundings he may develop. They seldom fail to make the grade with Irwin teaching the ways of baseball.”

Lewis’ first hit and first run scored came in his second game as Hartford beat the Waterbury Brasscos 5-3 at Hartford before 5,000 fans on June 4. In the second inning the youthful first sacker hit the first ball pitched by Fred Rawley to right field for three bases. He scored shortly after when the next batter Phil Neher singled to center. On the following day, June 5, Lewis went two for five as Hartford beat Albany 10-2 at Albany; the first baseman was beginning to impress and was being touted as a “Babe Ruth.”

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1922
Lou Gehrig, Punter, Columbia University, 1922.

Hartford beat Pittsfield 10-6 on June 8, and the Times wrote: “Lewis caught hold of a fast one in the third inning and sent it against the “B” in the Buick sign on the right field fence for a double. Lewis probably won’t get a Buick for his clout but he may get a ride in one before the season runs its course.” Lou went two for five that day. One of the times he made an out he slammed a terrific drive that traveled at the proverbial mile-a-minute clip into right fielder Bill McCorry’s gloved hand. It was described as the hardest hit of the game.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 8, 1921.

While Lewis at the young age of 17 was demonstrating his ability to knock the cover off the ball there were some indications that he lacked experience. On June 10 the Senators were trailing the Bridgeport “Brown Derbies” in the last of the ninth when with one out Heinie Scheer singled. Lewis then hit one to the box carrying a lot of smoke and it bounded off pitcher Ed Lepard’s glove for a single. Lewis a moment later was trapped off first by catcher Joe Smith on a pitchout. The rally was effectively stopped and the game was lost by Hartford, 4 to 2.

The Times wrote on June 11, “Lewis the youngster just breaking into organized ball with the local club is doing as well as one can expect and his present work gives fans here hopes that he will add to the Hartford hitting average which at present is the weakest link in the pennant-winning chain. The young first sacker is a slugger.” Lefty Lewis unexplainedly did not play in the Bridgeport game on June 13 but the next day against the Springfield Ponies he hit the second triple of his early professional experience.

In his last Eastern League game that year, on June 15, 1921, against Springfield, he showed his power even though his only hit was an infield one. In the first inning he crashed one against third baseman Jack Flynn’s shins and the ball caromed off with such force that it bounced across the diamond and the runner on third base, Harry Hesse, scored without any trouble.

Lou Gehrig “Lewis” plays his last game of 1921.
Harry Hesse, Hartford Senators, 1922.

No game was played on June 16 and at that point the young first baseman’s name, without explanation, ceased to appear in the Hartford papers for the remainder of the season. During his stay Hartford, winning 8 games and losing 5, had climbed into first place with a 28-17 record. Before the season was to end the Hartford Senators would drop to fifth place and its Manager, Art Irwin who had been successful in luring the young first baseman into professional baseball, if only for a short 12 games, would meet an untimely death. On July 16, 1921, he fell or jumped from the steamer Calvin Austin during a voyage from New York to Boston.

Lou Gehrig, Hartford Senators, 1923.

Even with a mediocre batting average of .261, Lewis had given Hartford fans an indication of things to come. The name “Lou Lewis” would not again appear in a Hartford or other professional baseball game box score! “Lou,” however, would return to the Eastern League in 1923 (as of August 2) and hit home runs at a pace which still has not been surpassed in the Eastern League, 24 home runs in only 59 games.

1923 Hartford Senators

What the Hartford newspapers did not report was that Columbia athletic officials had learned that Gehrig was playing pro ball under an assumed name. After being advised of the possible implications of playing for money, an unhappy Lou Gehrig returned promptly to New York City. As a result of this escapade Lou had to wait an extra year, until the fall of 1922, before he could participate in Columbia inter-collegiate sports. The experience might have hurt the New York Giants as well because had it never taken place, who knows, McGraw might have been able to sign up Lou Gehrig in 1923 instead.

Lou Gehrig and Mayor Norman Stevens of Hartford, 1924.

Source: Chellgren, Norton. “The Short Career of Lou Lewis.” Society for American Baseball Research, 1975 Baseball Research Journal, 1975, sabr.org/journal/article/the-short-career-of-lou-lewis.

Steve Brady, From Frog Hollow to the First World Series

Born: July 14, 1851, Worcester, MA

Died: November 1, 1917, Hartford, CT

Buried: Mount St. Benedict Cemetery, Bloomfield, CT

Of all the native sons of Hartford, Stephen A. Brady the city’s greatest 19th century ballplayer. His professional baseball career spanned 16 seasons during America’s Gilded Age. Described as a heavy hitter who delivered in the clutch, he was also a sure-handed utility man. His primary position was right field, but he played center field, first, second and third base as well. As a member of Hartford’s first Major League club in 1874, Brady was a hometown hero. He would go on on to captain the New York Metropolitans to multiple championships, including the first world championship in 1884.

Steve Brady

Initially, Brady was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Christopher and Mary McDonald Brady. Soon after his birth, the Brady’s relocated to Hartford. The Irish-American family lived at 72 Ward Street in the city’s Frog Hollow neighborhood. Steve was one of seven children: four brothers and two sisters named Jackson, Thomas, Edward, Christopher, Bridget and Margaret. Brady and his brothers were gifted athletes who excelled at the budding National Game.

Independent Base Ball Club, 1862.

Steve Brady came of age when baseball was spreading like wildfire across America. The first ball club organized in Hartford in 1860 under the name Independent Base Ball Club, followed by Charter Oak Base Ball Club in 1862. The game grew more popular in parks and pastures amongst local fans and amateur players. Brady began his robust playing career as an amateur with the Hylas Base Ball Club of Hartford in the late 1860’s. Then he graduated to the Jefferson Base Ball Club along with his brother Jackson, who played catcher. In the summer of 1871, Brady was appointed Vice President of the Jefferson club. The club convened for games at Frog Hollow’s Ward Street Grounds.

1865 Charter Oak Base Ball Club

A few years later in 1874, Brady captained the Hartford Amateurs, a city-wide team formerly known as the Stars. The Amateurs represented the city in local contests. At 20 years of age, Brady led the Hartford Amateurs against clubs from Yale College, Trinity College, Waterbury, New Britain, Middletown and others. Alongside Brady on the Hartford Amateurs were future Major Leaguers, John “Hartford Jack” Farrell at second base, Bill Tobin at first base and Charlie Daniels on the mound. That same year, the first (and last) major league franchise was formed in Hartford.

Jeffersons vs. Manfields, 1871.

Around the same time that Brady led the amateur scene, the Hartford Base Ball Association incorporated on March 21, 1874. The city boasted a population of about 40,000 when the professional club organized at $25 per share and raised $5,000 in capital. Also known as the Hartford Dark Blues, the team entered the National Association. Among investors, referred to as “subscribers” were: Ben Douglas Jr. the club’s organizer and top shareholder, Morgan G. Bulkeley, famed Connecticut politician, Civil War veteran, Aetna executive and first President of the National League and Gershom B. Hubbell, President of the Hartford Base Ball Club and former captain of Charter Oak Base Ball Club.

The Hartford Dark Blues, 1875 (Steve Brady not pictured).

Meanwhile Steve Brady and the Hartford Amateurs competed for local prestige and distinction. Eventually the Amateurs squared off against the Dark Blues at the Hartford Grounds on July 14, 1874. The Dark Blues trounced the Hartford Amateurs by a score of 15 to 1. A week later, Lip Pike of the Hartford Dark Blues, known as a “championship runner” challenged Steve Brady to a footrace. Though Brady was a gifted runner, Pike outpaced him in the contest. Yet the Hartford professionals were impressed with Brady’s baseball skills and notable athleticism.

Hartford Courant excerpt, July 16, 1874.

When Hartford Dark Blues shortstop Tommy Barlow fell ill due to an apparent morphine addiction, the club secured the services of Steve Brady. On July 22, 1874, Hartford’s hometown hero played his first game with the Dark Blues versus an amateur club, the Clippers of Bristol, Connecticut. Brady was positioned at third base while the team’s President, Gerhsom Hubbell played right field. Hartford walloped Bristol 36 to 0 and Brady secured a roster spot. He ended the 1874 season with 27 games played, 37 hits and a .316 batting average. The following year Brady appeared in only one game with the Hartford Dark Blues before signing with the original Washington Nationals club of 1875.

Tommy Barlow, Hartford Dark Blues, 1874.
Hartford Dark Blues batting averages, 1874.

Unfortunately, Brady would not perform well with Washington. In 21 games played he hit for a dismal .143 batting average. After the season, the Nationals disbanded and Brady was demoted to the minor leagues. In 1876, he starred for Billy Arnold’s Providence club, champions of the New England League. Then Brady was picked up by an International Association nine in Rochester, New York. He was the club’s best player, hitting for a .373 average during the 1877 season. Brady continued to bounce around the professional ranks with Springfield in 1878, the mighty Worcester Grays in 1879 and then the Rochester Hop Bitters in 1880.

1879 Worcester Grays

When the Rochester club forfeited their remaining schedule in September of 1880, Brady and many of his teammates were recruited to play for the newly formed Metropolitan Base Ball Club of New York. At 29 years old Brady was a well-respected, veteran ballplayer who was recognized as captain of the Metropolitans. The club was owned by another Connecticut man living in New York named John B. Day who originally hailed from Colchester. Their manager was Hall of Fame inductee Jim Mutrie, the winningest of 19th century managers. Brady’s Metropolitan teammates included two other Connecticut men in Jerry Dorgan of Meriden and Jack Leary of New Haven.

Stephen A. Brady, 1881.

The Metropolitans operated as an independent club from 1880 to 1882. They were the first professional team to play home games in the borough of Manhattan. The “Mets” as they came to be known, hosted opponents at the original Polo Grounds located on the Upper West Side, north of Central Park. On September 29, 1880 at the Polo Grounds inaugural game, Hartford native Steve Brady was the first player to step into the batters box as leadoff man for the Mets. Over 20,000 fans witnessed the opener in which the Mets defeated the Nationals by a score of 4 to 2.

1882 New York Metropolitans with their Captain Steve Brady (far right).

The Metropolitans became one of the nation’s best teams and joined the American Association in 1883. Brady most often played right field for the Mets who finished fourth place in the standings with 54 wins, 42 losses and 1 tie against the Louisville Eclipse. In 1884, Brady and the New York Metropolitans claimed victory over the American Association with 75 wins, 32 losses and 5 ties. At the end of the season, the first World Series of baseball materialized.  The 3-game series resulted from a challenge issued by Metropolitans manager, Jim Mutrie to Frank Bancroft, manager of the Providence Grays, pennant winners of the National League. The Grays boasted one of baseball’s top pitchers in Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn, who won a major league record 60 games in 1884.

1884 Providence Grays

The first World Series games were played on October 22, 24 and 25 at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Radbourn took the mound every contest for the Grays while Tim Keefe was on the slab for the Metropolitans. Steve Brady manned right field.  Radbourn and the Grays were too much for the Mets, taking three straight games: 6 to 0, 3 to 1 and 11 to 2. In the presence of capacity crowds, the first game went the full nine innings, but the second game was called after seven innings due to darkness. The third game was inconsequential since the series winner was determined, but the Mets hoped to earn more revenue. Only about 300 spectators attended the third game in part because of frigid weather.

Charles Radbourn, Providence Grays, 1884.
Charles Radbourn, Providence Grays, 1884.

Even though the Metropolitans were on the losing end of the first World Series, Brady’s stardom reached an all-time high during the 1884 season. He was a celebrated public figure in Hartford where he spent winters with his family. His brothers, Jackson and Thomas were mainstays for the Jefferson Base Ball Club who remained the class amateur squad in the city. When Steve Brady went back to New York for the 1885 season, he was again named captain of the New York Metropolitans. The Mets finished seventh place in the American Association and Brady hit for a .290 batting average.

Jackson Brady and Thomas Brady, Jeffersons club of Hartford, 1885.

The 1886 season would be Brady’s last in the major leagues. He reported to training camp out of shape and the Mets placed seventh out of eight clubs in the standings. Brady returned home to Hartford and accepted a role as first baseman and captain of the 1887 Hartford club of the Eastern League. Hartford’s minor league team reunited Brady with Charlie Daniels who served as manager, Jerry Dorgan im center field, and John “Hartford Jack” Farrell at second base. However, the Hartfords disbanded in August of 1887 and Brady was acquired by a professional club in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Hartford vs. Waterbury, 1887.

In a turn of events, Brady became a part owner of an ice skating rink in Brooklyn and head of the Brooklyn Ice Polo Club. He joined former Mets manager Jim Mutrie in an enterprise seeking to form a national ice polo league during the fall of 1887. At that time, ice polo was a form of ice hockey rapidly growing in popularity throughout the northeastern United States. Brady and Mutrie traveled the country in search of ice polo players and supporters, but the venture never panned out. Brady, the entrepreneur and sportsman, resumed baseball activities in 1888 for the Jersey City Skeeters of the Central League.

Stephen A. Brady, Hartfords, 1887.
Stephen A. Brady, Hartfords, 1887.

He captained the Jersey City minor league club and guarded first base at 36 years old. In 1889, Brady finally stepped away from the field as a player and applied to become an umpire in the Atlantic Association. His application was granted and was hired as a regular umpire in June. Less than a month later he was replaced and for a short time Brady worked as a saloon keeper in New York City. In February of 1890, Brady made a comeback to baseball when he was hired as player-manager of the Jersey City club.

Brady applies to become an umpire, Jun 10, 1889.

By 1892, Brady had moved back to Hartford and married a woman from New Britain named Mary A. Begley. He was a member of the Hartford baseball club who competed in the Connecticut State League. The team was comprised of several ex-major league players such as Mickey Welch, Ed Beecher and John M. Henry. After his official retirement from baseball, Brady and his brothers established a successful bottling company in Hartford called Brady Bros. The concern manufactured stone and glass bottles and filled them with mineral water and soda.

Hartford Courant excerpt, March 16, 1894.

Steve Brady made his last recorded appearance on a baseball diamond in the summer of 1898 when his team of wine clerks took on a Hartford Police nine. His fingers were reported to be “twisted and knotted” from a lifetime of playing baseball in an era without proper protection. Brady became an active member of the Hartford Elks Lodge and the Ancient Order of Hibernians with whom he conducted various charitable deeds. On November 17, 1917 Stephen A. Brady passed away at the age of 66 in the home where he was born at 72 Ward Street, Hartford. His brother John “Jackson” Brady carried on the family business as President of Brady Brothers.

Hartford Courant excerpt, October 14, 1923.
John “Jackson” Brady, 1937.
Brady Bros. Hartford, Connecticut, 2018.
Brady Bros. bottle, Hartford, Connecticut, 2019.
Ward Street, Hartford, Connecticut, 2019.
Brady family gravestone at Mount St. Benedict Cemetery, Bloomfield, Connecticut, 2019.

Sources

  1. Hartford Courant database on Newspapers.com
  2. Baseball-Reference.com