In today’s episode of Today in baseball, we pay attention to the very first trade in baseball. Today 133 years ago the Cincinnati Reds and the Saint Louis Browns were the first teams to do so.
We write 1886, a time in which players were bought from other teams on a regular basis. But today, two clubs would make the very first trade in baseball. The Saint Louis Browns, the team that would become the Cardinals, sent outfielder Hugh Nicol to Cincinnati. Nicol would steal 138 bases in the following season. The Reds, on their turn, sent “Honest” Jack Boyle to Saint Louis. The catcher had only one game of MLB experience. To make up for this, the Reds would send $400 to the Browns as well.
In the four years Boyle played with the Browns, he would not be very successful at bat. He would bat a modest .241 with 11 home runs, 15 triples, and 40 doubles. Only later in his career, with the Philadelphia Phillies, Boyle would manage to hit .300 and get close to that average once. In 1894, he batted .300 with 4 home runs, 10 triples, and 23 doubles. In 1896, he came close to .300 as he batted .297.
Hugh Nicol was a player of a similar caliber with a lifetime batting average of 235. The utility player topped .280 only once in his career in his first year with Saint Louis when he hit .285.
Boyle would enjoy his time with the Browns more than Nicol would enjoy his time with the Reds. In 1887 and 1888, the Brown Stockings would win the American Association pennant. Nevertheless, the team would lose the World Series in both years; in 1887 vs the Detroit Wolverines of the National League and in 1888 vs the New York Giants of the National League.