What a difference a couple of days – and one superstar – make.
On May 8, the Elm Citys played the Philadelphia Whites closely, with the club’s poor defense resulting in a 3-2 loss. “In view of the close game on Saturday it was reasonably supposed that the second game would be interesting,” the New Haven Register said.
One would suppose wrong. When Levi Meyerle, one of the game’s leading players, returned to the lineup for the Whites on May 10, there was no competition. “His play was a decided feature of their play,” the Register said.
New Haven fell 13-0 in a rain soaked, poorly attended game, with Meyerle leading the assault with three hits and two runs scored. Tim Murnane had three hits and two runs scored and Mike McGeary scored four times for Philadelphia. Bob Addy, who had the great nickname of “The Magnet,” also had three runs and two hits for the visitors.
New Haven eked out only three harmless hits against Philadelphia pitcher Cherokee Fisher, while making 10 errors. “The New Havens could not bat on Fisher with any effect,” the Register said.
The game was delayed for a half hour because of the rain with Philly leading 4-0, and should have likely been called off, the Register reported. “The games of base ball between professional clubs in the city have bad every disagreeable weather to fight against, that of yesterday being no exception,” said the New Haven Palladium.
However, after a half-hour the clubs decided they could continue, and the rout was on. The Register correspondent must have fled for drier climates, because while the paper reports a final box score, which would have been provided by the club, there is no game narrative.
Twenty-six year old Levi Meyerle was one of the sport’s first superstars, a two-time National Association batting champion, and one of the highest paid players in the game, making $1,200 per year in 1875. His first season in the National Association after playing for high level amateur teams was truly epic. Meyerle hit .492 in 1871, leading the league in on base percentage, slugging average, and home runs (with four – still a feat in an era where very few balls were actually hit to the outfield.) He hit .365 over the course of his NA career, surviving until the creation of the modern National League in 1876.
He did play virtually every position during the course of his career, none of them at all well. While fielding percentage is a tricky statistic during any era, it is particularly hard to gauge during the barehanded days of the game. His lifetime fielding percentage was .796, abysmal by any standard, and below the 1875 league average by 50 points. However, Meyerle appeared to be a better first and second baseman than third baseman, where he played the bulk of his games. Al Spalding of the Boston Red Stockings damned Meyerle’s fielding with faint praise, saying he wasn’t as bad in the field as people made him out to be. In the end, however, he made a little more than one error per game he played in his career. He did play a completely clean game in the field against New Haven.
Meyerle played about a century too early. The man was a born designated hitter.
Another good club, the New York Mutuals, are up next for New Haven.
SCORE BY INNINGS
PHILADELPHIA – 2 0 1 1 3 0 1 2 2 – 13
NEW HAVEN – 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0
WP – Cherokee Fisher LP – Tricky Nichols (0-8)
Philadelphia lineup – Lefty McMullin (1 hit); Mike McGeary, 3b (4 runs, 1 hit); Bob Addy, rf (3 runs, 2 hits); Levi Meyerle, 1b (2 runs, 3 hits); Cherokee Fisher, p (winning pitcher); Tim Murnane, cf (2 runs, 3 hits); Chick Fulmer, ss (1 run, 1 hit); Bill Crowley, 3b (1 run, 1 hit); Pop Snyder, c
New Haven lineup – Billy Geer, 2b (1 hit), John McKelvey, rf, Johnny Ryan, lf; Henry Luff, 3b; Jim Tipper, rf; Charlie Gould, 1b (1 hit); Sam Wright, ss; Stud Bancker, c (1 hit); Tricky Nichols (losing pitcher)