One might think that with the additions of three new players and a win under their belts, the New Havens would be ready to turn it around. It was not to be.
The club finished its road trip with four straight losses, losing a close game to Washington on June 1, 8-7 and subsequently being routed by Philadelphia Whites 18-2 on June 3, and by the Philadelphia Athletics 13-5 and 14-2 on June 4 and 5.
The team would return home by boat on June 11 to play the Hartford Dark Blues, a game whose stakes, both on and off the field, couldn’t be higher. The New Haven Evening Register argued that the odds were stacked against the club from the beginning. The team got started after most other teams had been comprised, and since it was made up of mostly amateurs, the city of New Haven should be giving it a pass for its poor play.
“It is no easy task to start a professional club. The management here have had every obstacle to encounter and as yet their efforts have not been met with the reception which they merit,” opined the New Haven Evening Register.
The Register believes that the recent signings of Juice Latham, Ed Somerville, and Tim McGinley shows “meritorious sagacity” on the part of the club’s directors.
More changes appear to be in the air. The Hartford Courant reported that the directors were planning to dismiss Charlie Gould from his position as captain (the 19th century equivalent of manager) and replace him with the newly acquired Latham. “We wish to deny this in toto,” said the Register. “Captain Gould’s services will not be dispensed with and the management of the club have never entertained such an idea.”
Regular pitcher Tricky Nichols was expected to be fully recovered from a finger injury that prevented him from making the road trip. “He has been practicing faithfully since his hand has allowed him, hence he is good playing condition. His services, of a very valuable nature, have been greatly missed by the boys during their late trip, and they can loay some their defeats to this and this alone,” the Register said.
Nichols would play an important continued role for the team in the future, but not against Hartford on June 11. Apparently not fully recovered from his injury, Nichols gave way to regular third baseman Henry Luff, pressed into service in the box during the road trip. Luff has been working on a curve ball, the Register said, with good results. “He has every indication of making a very successful pitcher, hard to hit,” the Register said.
Luff gave up 15 hits to Hartford and with Candy Cummings virtually unhittable for the Dark Blues, New Haven lost 12-0 in front of 1,500 people, their largest crowd of the season. “Many who came upon the grounds with faces indicative of pleasure left with looks of despondency,” the Register said.
“The residents of the Elm City (were) thinking that their reorganized nine were going to make a hot fight against the Hartfords,” the Hartford Courant said, their sneer coursing through the ink on the page.
New Haven mounted a single rally the second inning. They had the bases loaded in the second inning with no one out, only down 2-0 before Tim McGinley, Sam Wright and John McKelvey were quietly retired.
Hartford picked up two runs in the second inning, and single runs in the fourth and fifth before exploding in the seventh inning. They scored five times, with Henry Luff allowing five consecutive base hits. Hartford added another three runs in the bottom of the eighth. “The New Havens were out-hitted and out-fielded at every point,” said the Hartford Courant.
Cummings, allegedly the inventor of the curve ball, finished the game only allowing New Haven five hits, with only a single runner reaching second base after the second inning. Hartford first baseman Everett Mills was the hitting star for the club with three runs scored and a pair of hits, including a double and a triple. Tom York added two hits and two runs scored, including a triple.
Both the Register and the Courant made special note of Hartford catcher Bill Harbidge. He replaced an injured Doug Allison and contributed fine defensive play and a base hit to the victory. A quick side note about Harbidge – he was a rarety, a lefthanded catcher,and would be the first in National League history when he played the position in 1876. He was known as “Roarin'” or “Yaller” Bill and he also had extensive knowledge of Shakespeare’s works, according to Baseball-reference.com.
Ed Somerville, playing with a sprained ankle, provided New Haven’s only offense, managing two singles. Sam Wright, who played well in the field in the game, managed to pop out to the catcher all three times at bat.
New Haven finished the day with a record of 1 win and 20 losses. Hartford was 20-5, trailing the first place Boston Red Stockings by 5 and a half games. The two clubs would meet again the next day.