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Play Ball!

After a dreary Winter here in Wappingers Falls, we are looking forward to the sights and sounds of Springtime!  The warm sun, the green grass, and…..the excitement and cheers of baseball! 


Whether it’s a Little League game, a friendly neighborhood game at the local park, or an MLB game at the stadium, baseball has a local flavor.  Wappingers Falls is proud to have our very own Baseball Hall of Famer – Dennis “Big Dan” Brouthers as one of the all-time heroes of the glory days in baseball history. Scroll down to hear Author Roy Kerr share tidbits about Big Dan in a short video, plus WHS member Rena Corey shares her engaging recollections of growing up in Brooklyn during the heyday of the Brooklyn Dodgers! 

Hall of Fame Slugger “Big Dan” Brouthers

Dennis “Dan” Joseph Brouthers was born to Irish immigrant parents at Sylvan Lake, Town of Beekman, on May 8, 1858. His family moved to the Village of Wappingers Falls in the 1870’s, where he and his father Michael worked at the Garner Print Works.  The family resided near West Main and Church Streets.  Into his teens, Dan began working for Sweet-Orr and Company.  It was at Sweet-Orr that Dan met his wife-to-be, Mary Ellen Croak.  In his leisure time, Dan played on a local semi-professional baseball team, the Wappingers Falls Actives, primarily as a pitcher. He began his Major League career at age 21.  “Big Dan” was 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 207 lbs., a large-sized man for the 1800’s.   As the first big slugger in baseball history, lefty Dan played 1st base.  He was recruited to play for the Troy Trojans in 1879, and went on to play for the Buffalo Bisons, Detroit Wolverines, Boston Beaneaters, Boston Reds, Brooklyn Grooms, Baltimore Orioles, Louisville Colonels, Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Giants, ending his baseball career in 1904.  Dan was a five- time National League batting champion, two- time National League home run leader and two- time National League RBI leader.  He had  a career average of .342 (tying Babe Ruth), with a career total of 107 homers. While the homer total is modest compared with today's stats, it put him fourth among players in the 19th century.


Dan married Mary Ellen on New Year’s Eve, 1885.  They resided on West Main Street, Wappingers Falls.  They had four children:  Anna, Daniel, Dennis and Margaret.  After retiring from major league baseball, the family moved to Manhattan where Dan worked for the New York Giants doing various jobs such as watchman and ticket taker. Dan came back to visit friends and relatives in the Wappingers area frequently.  He appeared at Sweet-Orr Company picnics, doing a little PR work for them by engaging in “tug-of-wars” with a Sweet-Orr dungaree and some of the factory workers.


He and Mary Ellen later moved to East Orange, New Jersey and lived with their daughter Margaret and her husband Charles Wilson. Dan Brouthers died there on August 2, 1932, at the age of 74.  He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Wappingers Falls, next to his beloved wife Mary Ellen, who passed two weeks later.

"Big Dan" Brouthers was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1945.

Author Roy Kerr tells stories of Big Dan Brouthers, the "Terror of all Pitchers"

Meet "Big Dan" at the Mesier Homestead as portrayed by Sam 

WHS member Rena Corey pays tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers!

WHS member Ken Cerino remembering Big Dan on his Birthday - May 9th

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A monument to Dennis Joseph “Big Dan” Brouthers was erected in 1971 through the efforts of village resident, author, and historian Joseph V. Poillucci.  The monument was originally located at Veteran’s Field in the Village of Wappingers Falls, but was later relocated to it’s current, more-prominent location in the heart of the Village at the intersection of East Main Street and Mill Street.

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Images online at the US Library of Congress

Sport trading cards were originally promotional items that came packaged with cigarettes. The baseball card not only promoted the sport of baseball, it protected the cigarettes from damage. You could collect your favorite players when you bought your "Old Judge Cigarettes" back in 1887. The images below depict Big Dan as 1st baseman for the Detroit Wolverines.  By the 1910's, trading cards began appearing in Cracker Jack boxes, and the 1930's brought the baseball cards and gum together for the first time.


Learn More / Souvenirs

Our online store is a great source for learning more about local history. 

Click any item to go directly to it in our store.

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Big Dan Brouthers   Baseball’s First Great Slugger, by Roy Kerr  (Biography)

Described as ''the Greatest Batsman in the Country" by sportswriters of his era, Dennis ''Big Dan" Brouthers compiled a .342 batting average, tying with Babe Ruth for ninth place all-time, and slugged 205 triples, eighth all time, in 16 major league seasons. He won five batting and on-base percentage titles, and seven slugging titles, and was the first player to win batting and slugging crowns in successive years. Although he ranked fourth among nineteenth-century home run hitters, many fair balls he hit into the stands or over the fence were counted only as doubles or triples due to local ground rules. 

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Dan Brouthers Hall of Fame Plaque Postcard

Hometown hero Dennis "Big Dan" Brouthers was baseball's first great slugger. Living much of his life in the village of Wappingers Falls, Big Dan played first for the Wappingers Actives before  advancing to major leagues. He spent much of his career with the New York Giants,   He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. 


This postcard depicts his plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. 

Sports Museum of Dutchess County

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Among the many items related to Dutchess County's sports players that are on display in the Sports Museum, one of the prize items in their collection of memorabilia is an autographed baseball by Big Dan himself. Learn more about the Sports Museum of Dutchess County at Carnwath Farm in the Town of Wappinger by clicking here!

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