Latham named New Haven captain; Gould demoted

Juice Latham, depicted here in 1875, was named captain of the New Havens in mid June, replacing Charlie Gould

Juice Latham, depicted here in 1875, was named captain of the New Havens in mid June, replacing Charlie Gould

New Haven had been hit with baseball fever, but you wouldn’t know it from the ticket receipts over at the city’s professional ballpark, the Howard Avenue Grounds.

On the upper end of Orange Street, in what would currently be the heart of East Rock, neighborhood kids gathered in open fields to play the game. “Complaint has frequently been made to the police that … crowds of noisy boys congregate on the lots, and after finishing their game, amuse themselves by digging holes in the concrete sidewalks and knocking off the tops of picket fences with their bats,” the Palladium huffed.

One old lady got hit with a ball, and filed a report with police. “The orderly portion of the community think it is about time a stop should be put to these practices,” the Palladium said.

While the cops were chasing around the baseball playing youth of the city, a group of sober businessmen huddled together, trying to figure out a way to keep the town’s professional baseball team going. Town fathers wanted the club to win, and there was palpable disappointment around the city at the squad’s poor play. The local newspapers were loath to point fingers – good innings were lauded as a step forward, let alone victories – but word was out around town. The New Haven club was not worth the price of admission. The Board of Directors were businessmen who had acheived some success in their working lives, and they’d be damned if their franchise would fail.

The stockholders voted on June 19 to increase the capital stock from $3,000 to $5,000. The owners of the club needed a quick influx of cash to help keep the team out of the red. They also appointed a committee of three people to attempt to increase the number of season tickets sold. “With new energy infused all around, the public will doubtlessly take largely increased interest in the success of the club,” the Register reported.

Another move, more crucial to the club’s competitive position, was to cancel its western trip. The National Association had no set schedule. Teams were expected to schedule an even slate of home and away games against each other over the course of the season. If a team didn’t book a full schedule of games, they were rendered ineligible for the team championship. New Haven, with an exceedingly poor record, was not going to compete with Boston, Hartford, or Philadelphia for league preeminence. But tanking a road trip was a serious matter, and one that would have long term implications for the club in the future.

The board of directors also opted to kick Charlie Gould out of the captaincy. He would be retained as player and as business manager of the squad, but his 2-21 record mandated that a change needed to be made. Twenty-two year old Juice Latham, recently signed after spending a short period of time with the Boston Red Stockings, took over as the club’s new field boss.

It would remain to be seen whether the changes would result in success on the field.

 

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