Roger Bresnahan

Roger Bresnahan

Original data provided by the Bain News Service on the negatives or caption cards: Bresnahan (St. Louis Nationals).

OF, P, C, 2B, 3B, 1B, SS
The Duke Of Tralee
June 11, 1879
5' 9"
200 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-27-1897 with WSN
Hall of Fame:

Roger Bresnahan

Roger Bresnahan was the player both John McGraw and Branch Rickey considered the finest catcher they ever saw. Bresnahan was a good hitter who filled in at several positions for the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, also managing at the major league level. He had good enough speed that he was used as a leadoff hitter, and he hit .279 with more than 200 steals during his 17-year career. His development of catching techniques and the use of equipment were revolutionary.


Teams Roger Bresnahan Managed

St. Louis Cardinals (1909-1912)
Chicago Cubs (1915)


Where does Roger Bresnahan rank among baseball greats?

Roger Bresnahan ranks among the Top 50 all-time at C.

Roger Bresnahan All Time Teammates:

Roger Bresnahan Teammates

Ivey Wingo
Ed Konetchy
Larry Doyle
Art Devlin
Bill Dahlen
Mike Donlin
Cy Seymour
Cy Williams
Christy Mathewson
Joe McGinnity
Harry Howell
Hippo Vaughn
Vic Willis
John McGraw


Best Season: 1903
Bresnahan, like many players who caught in the early 1900s, played on a semi-regular basis. The difference with Bresnahan was that he could hit well enough to earn a spot in other locations. He played 254 games in the outfield in his career, 41 at third, 33 at second, and 28 at second base. He caught 958 games, with more than 93 in a single season just once (139 in 1908 with McGraw's Giants). In '03 Bresnahan played 84 games in the outfield, and various games at other positions for a total of 113. He batted .350 - fourth in the league - with a fine .443 OBP and .493 SLG - both in the NL's top five. He also finished in the top ten in runs, walks, and steals. In 1908, he caught 139 games - a rare feat for catchers of that era. Soon he was developing techniques unseen in baseball, such as the snap throw to first base, the slide step to block the plate, and the use of shin guards. Thes facts, as much as anything he did on
the diamond, helped him get into the Hall of Fame. He was elected following his death in 1944, largely due to Rickey's influence.


How Bresnahan Became a Catcher
catcher Roger Bresnahan first walked on the field in 1906 with cricket shin guards strapped to his legs, he took razzing from players on the opposing team, but the equipment helped protect him from errant pitches, and before long nearly every receiver in the game was wearing them.

Bresnahan was an innovator in many ways. In 1905, after he suffered a serious beaning that left him unconscious, Bresnahan experimented with a protective batting helmet that he fashioned after
football headgear. He was also credited with adding padding to the catcher’s mask to make it more comfortable. Yet Bresnahan was not always a catcher. He debuted as a pitcher, but an incident with John McGraw’s Baltimore Orioles in 1901 launched his catching career.

Warming up on the sidelines under the watchful eye of McGraw, who became his best friend in baseball, Bresnahan grew frustrated as the team’s second-string catcher had problems handling his deliveries. “Why don’t you get us a catcher?” he asked. “If you’re so smart, get in there and catch yourself,” McGraw growled at him. Bresnahan accepted the challenge, caught Joe McGinnity’s complete game victory that day, and soon he was the team’s primary catcher.

In an era when most catchers were coveted for their gloves, Bresnahan was a valuable offensive player as well. For several seasons he was McGraw’s leadoff man, a role he filled well in the 1905 World Series, when he led all batters with a .312 average, and added four walks and a stolen base in five games. Bresnahan was adept at reaching base, finishing among the top ten in on-base percentage seven times. He finished his 17- year career as a .279 hitter with 211 stolen bases.

Where He Played
Bresnahan was a valuable role player, catching 974 games, but also playing all three outfield positions, third base, first base, second, and short. He even pitched in nine games, posting a 4-1 record with a 3.93 ERA. He wasn't settled into the catcher's role until he was 26 years old and in his seventh big league season.

As a Manager
Bresnahan had a .432 winning record (328-432). His best season was 1911, when the Cardinals were fifth, at 75-74.

The Duke Of Tralee, "The
Duke of Tralee" refers to Tralee, Ireland, where Bresnahan's ancestors were from.

Hall of Fame Voting
Year Election Votes Pct
1936 BBWAA 47 20.8%
1937 BBWAA 43 21.4%
1938 BBWAA 67 25.6%
1939 BBWAA 67 24.5%
1942 BBWAA 57 24.5%
1945 BBWAA 133 53.8%
1945 Old Timers   %

Post-Season Notes
Bresnahan was the leadoff man and catcher for the 1905 World Series champion New York Giants.

Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Chicago Orphans to the Baltimore Orioles; Before 1902 Season: Jumped from the Baltimore Orioles to the New York Giants; December 12, 1908: Traded by the New York Giants to the St. Louis Cardinals for Admiral Schlei, Bugs Raymond, and Red Murray; June 8, 1913: Purchased by the Chicago Cubs from the St. Louis Cardinals.

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