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Steve Behel

Outfield
  • Series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

Stephen Arnold Douglas Behel (1860-1945) had a life that spanned a remarkable period, from the eve of the Civil War to nearly the end of  World War II. He only spent a few years out of those nine decades in professional baseball, but he could tell his grandchildren about how he was once a big league player.

Behel saw action in nine games in 1884 for the Milwaukee Brewers of the upstart Union Association, which had poached players from the dominant National League, the American Association and minor league teams. The UA managed to limp through that one season at the pinnacle of the game, though many decry the notion that it was truly a major league. The Brewers only played a dozen games in '84 as a replacement franchise late in the season along with the St. Paul Saints. The Saints never got to play a home game and the Brewers (aka Cream Citys) played only one on the road. Steve went 8 for 33, good for a .242 average which was third on the team.

Behel was a part-timer for the AA's NY Metropolitans in 1886, playing in 59 games, but his average slipped to .205. Primarily a minor leaguer, Behel began with the Fort Wayne Hoosiers of the Northwestern League in 1883 and concluded with Rockford of the Central Interstate League in 1888. His best season was with Eau Claire, where he batted .348 in 1887.

  • The Earlville, IL native played most of his pro ball close to home, but he did get further afield with the Augusta Browns of the Southern League in 1885

Auction History

Steve Brady

Outfield
  • Series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

Stephen A. Brady (1851-1917) was born in Worcester, MA and began playing professional ball in New England in the early days of the sport's arrival on the national scene. Brady started out with the Hartford Dark Blues of the pre-modern majors - the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. The NAPBBP had become the first openly pro league in 1871 and Steve joined the fraternity the same year the Hartfords did, 1874.

Seven eastern seaboard clubs plus Chicago made up the circuit that year. Owned and organized by Morgan Bulkeley and anchored by the likes of Cherokee Fisher, Bob Addy, Orator Shafer and Lip Pike, Hartford’s Dark Blues disappointed and dwelt near the cellar in 1874, finishing with a 16-37 record as the Boston Red Stockings continued their dominance. Rookie Brady did well in a utility role however, contributing a .314 average in 27 games to an otherwise dismal season.

Brady would play only one game for the Dark Blues in 1875 before being shipped off to the Washington Nationals. The move was likely regrettable for him professionally. The Nationals would go 5-23 and bankrupt while his former Dark Blues dominated at 54-28 on the strength of contributions from a few newly acquired superstars. Tommy Bond and Candy Cummings won those 54 games with a combined ERA of 1.56 while the team, including recently acquired sluggers Black Jack Burdock and Tom York, flourished under the leadership and defensive wizardry of new player/manager Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson.

Meanwhile, Brady’s performance in Washington mirrored his team’s: he floundered with a .143 batting average for a club that produced a .179 winning percentage. The minors soon beckoned and Steve played for NY and MA clubs, including the Metropolitans whom he joined for the 1881 season in the Eastern Championship Association. The team moved to the League Alliance and, in '83, ascended to the American Association, returning Brady to the majors through 1886. Moved to the outfield in '84, Steve's offensive production stabilized and he batted .264 over his tenure in NY. By 1887 Brady's old Hartford team was now in the Eastern League when he rejoined them for a very successful season, hitting .350.

  • Per Wikipedia: Brady’s 1875 Washington Nationals "went out of business in St. Louis, Missouri, after playing the local Red Stockings on July 3 and July 4. Next day the players announced by telegraph that a club official had absconded with the funds but (Ryczek 1992: 194) concludes that "the tale had been planted by the players in an effort to find enough good samaritans to foot the bill for the trip home." The club probably failed by "unappealing play" and consequent receipts too small to support travel. On the final trip, they lost two in Philadelphia and five of six in St. Louis. The final game was a 12-5 victory but the two local teams outscored Washington 42-5 in the first five games, which must have been repelling."

Auction History