The New Havens get ready for the season

With the concept of spring training in warmer climates yet to be invented, the Elm Citys huddled inside local gyms attempting to get ready for the upcoming season.

The players under contract – Charlie Gould, Billy Geer, Henry Luff, Tricky Nichols, Stud Bancker, Hamilton, Johnny Ryan, and Jim Tipper – recently arrived in town. “They are practicing in a gymnasium three hours every day, and as soon as the weather and the ground will admit they will have out door work,” according to the Palladium.

Finding skilled players willing to take a chance with the new franchise is proving to be difficult. The local press is littered with rumors about who might be joining the team. Long Jim Holdsworth, an infielder with considerable batting skills, was rumored to sign with New Haven. However, the rumor proved to be unfounded. Holdsworth signed a contract with the Mutuals of New York.

A pitcher named Cretchley from New Britain elicited a bit of breathless prose from the Daily Palladium. In what is an insight into player procurement at the time, the Palladium covered Cretchley’s tryout with the team: “He gave an exhibition of his pitching in the gymnasium with the New Haven nine in the presence of some of the directors. He pitches a very swift and accurate ball, is a large man measuring six feet one inches in heighth, and weighs about 180 pounds. His exhibition was well received and spoken highly of by all. He would be a valuable acquisition to a professional nine as a change pitcher.”

Cretchley, however, also would not join the Elm Citys during the 1875 season.

The Board of Directors announced the release of three players who were signed to conditional contracts. “It was voted to correspond with three other players, who were named, and ascertain if they could be engaged,” the Daily Palladium said.

Jim Britt was one of the first men cut by the New Haven club

Jim Britt

The released players were unnamed in the Daily Palladium, but it can be assured that one of them was pitcher Jim Britt. The 19-year-old Brooklyn native’s professional career was over. He finished having lead the National Association in losses in both 1872 and 1873. His final record was 26-64 losses and a 4.26 earned run average. He batted .223.

According to Paul Batesel’s encyclopedia “Players and Teams of the National Association, 1871-1875,” Britt spent the rest of his days as a plumber, and died in San Francisco at the age of 77. His son Jimmy Britt became a boxer and fought for the lightweight title twice, losing both times, according to the blog Baseball Revisited. Jimmy Britt also became a vaudeville performer, touring the nation playing Shakespeare. “Old Lady Macbeth was ok too. Took the count like a man,” said the son of one of the most unsuccessful pitchers in National Association history.

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