Tommy Bond and the Hartfords defeat New Haven 4-3

Tommy Bond

Tommy Bond, one of the 19th century’s greatest pitchers

Tommy Bond, a 19-year-old Irish native in 1875, is virtually forgotten today, but he was for a time the highest paid player in professional baseball. Looking through the history of the early professional days of the sport, Bond’s name keep recurring as a pitching innovator, one of the men who changed the role as simply a feeder for the action to a influence on the game itself.

Bond, according to researcher Peter Morris, was the first person to learn the curveball from Hartford teammate Candy Cummings. He was also known for throwing a fast “raise ball,” a submarine style pitch delivered from about six inches off the ground and described by Morris as an inverted sinker, and a variation on a spitball in which a small amount of glycerin was deployed on his fingertips. These characteristics helped Bond be one of the 19th century’s most dominant pitchers.

New Haven, with its anemic bats, was no match for this vast pitching arsenal, losing 4-3 to Hartford on July 24, 1875. “The finest feature of the game was Bond’s wonderful pitching, after he had settled down to work. His work during the last three innings we have never seen excelled, the curve being remarkably effective. The ball when half the distance to the striker had been traversed would seem to threaten some part of his body, bit would take a sharp turn just in front of the plate and pass over it,” the Palladium said. Bond’s pitches either resulted in weak swings or called strikes.

“The game was anybody’s until it ended,” the Palladium said, ever the booster.

Hartford jumped out to a quick two run lead, scoring in the top of the first inning on a single by shortstop Tom Carey and a double by leftfielder Tom York. New Haven cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning on an Ed Somerville walk, a single by Juice Latham and a helpful error by Hartford catcher Doug Allison.

New Haven had a defensive breakdown in the top of the 5th inning, making four errors, allowing Hartford to take a 4-1 lead. “Had it now been for bad errors by the home nine … they would have won; but errors form a part of every game of ball, and are no excuse for defeat,” the Palladium said.

66

In the bottom of the inning, New Haven rallied with three clean hits off Bond to score two runs. At this point in the game, both Bond and Nichols proved unhittable. Both men each threw four scoreless innings, Nichols striking out one batter and Bond two. New Haven managed to get two runners on in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Allison put down the uprising by throwing out both men stealing.

The gnarled hands of Hartford catcher Doug Allison

The gnarled hands of Hartford catcher Doug Allison

While the game might not have been a success on the field, Hartford proved to be an excellent natural rival for the New Haven club. The Elm Citys had been playing a bit better as of late. “The game … conclusively showed that the improvement in the nine is not temporary or the work of chance, but an improvement that will stay,” the Palladium reported.

The 1876 Hartford Dark Blues, featured above, made the transition to the modern National League with many of the 1875 players still on the roster

The 1876 Hartford Dark Blues, featured above, made the transition to the modern National League with many of the 1875 players still on the roster

That improvement and the presence of the Dark Blues, who were currently second in the National Association behind the dynastic Boston Red Stockings, made for an appealing ticket. “The game between these two clubs drew another large crowd … and if the home club continues to make money at the same rate we may expect to see them in appear upon the grounds ere long in dress suits,” the Register said.

A small side plot began to develop during this game. Charlie Pabor of the Brooklyn Atlantics made his first appearance in New Haven, umpiring the game impartially and well. It wouldn’t be long before Pabor took a greater role in the Elm Citys’ saga.

Yale defeats New Haven 6-4; the curve baffles Elm City

Charles Hammond Avery, star Yale pitcher, in an 1874 team photo on the wall at Mory's in New Haven

Charles Hammond Avery (standing center), star Yale pitcher, in an 1874 team photo on the wall at Mory’s in New Haven

The best pitcher in New Haven in 1875 wasn’t getting paid for his work. His name was C.H. Avery and he was a true phenom. Twenty-one year old Charles Hammond Avery, known colloquolly as Ham, was the senior captain of the Yale baseball team in 1875.

According to baseball historian Harold Seymour, Avery was one of the first pitchers to throw the curveball. The truth is very complicated. For his part, Candy Cummings, the Hartford pitcher the Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes as the first man to throw a curveball, parsed the distinction, saying Avery was one of only three other pitchers who mastered the pitch with an underhand delivery.

Fred Goldsmith, who claims to have taught Avery the curveball

Fred Goldsmith, who claims to have taught Avery the curveball

Fred Goldsmith, a future New Haven Elm City Club player, was another player who claimed primacy in the evolution of the pitch. Even he said initially that Avery was the inventor of the pitch, but later recanted his assertion claiming he was the first to curve the ball. Goldsmith claimed he was walking down the street in New Haven near the Green, tossing a ball around when a man in a Yale sweater, turning out to be Avery, asked to play catch. Goldsmith, a teenager, threw a curve befuddling Avery, who demanded to learn the pitch. Or so the story goes.

The provinance of the pitch is uncertain. Legendary baseball manager Connie Mack claimed that Avery was the first pitcher to throw a curve in a collegiate game, shutting out Harvard 4-0 in 1874. In the end, baseball historians enshrined Cummings as the inventor of the pitch (he learned curving seashells on the shore in his childhood home in Massachusetts), while Goldsmith and Avery were essentially relegated to footnotes in baseball history.

Avery had things well in hand when he face New Haven on June 21, 1875. It was common for National Association teams to schedule contests against local college or amateur teams as a way of lining their coffers and getting in a bit of practice. New Haven already played Yale twice times over the course of the season. Yale almost beat New Haven during their last exhibition before the game was washed away by rain. However, local pundits believed that with the acquisitions of first baseman Juice Latham, catcher Tim McGinley, and second baseman Ed Somerville, would tip the game in favor of the professionals.

The pundits were wrong. The Bulldogs defeated the professionals by the score of 6-4.

New Haven jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Ed Somerville singled. He then scored on three consecutive passed balls by Bigelow, a common 19th century malady when a curveball pitcher meets a barehanded catcher.

Yale scored twice in the bottom of the third inning to jump into the lead. New Haven took advantage of two Yale errors to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning, but Ham Avery took control of the game, striking out 7 in an era when it was extremely difficult to do so. “To make a long story short, Avery, the Yale pitcher, never did better, and the New Havens were utterly unable to hit him with any effect,” said the New Haven Register.

After surrendering a pair of hits in the 5th inning, Avery retired the final 15 New Haven players in a row, allowing Yale to chip away at unlucky Tricky Nichols for four runs. “Nichols pitched with greater skills than usual and he seems to have improved very much,” the Register said.

Billy Geer drove in two runs for New Haven, and the papers pointed to Latham as playing particularly good defense. Yale catcher Bigelow drove in three runs and George Knight scored two runs for the Bulldogs.

Avery had a chance to turn professional after his graduation in 1875. Hall of Famer Harry Wright offered him $3,400 per season to join the Boston Red Stockings. To place this offer in context, the average National Association ballplayer made between $100 and $150 per month. In fact, the offer to Avery was $400 more than Wright paid Al Spalding, the Red Stockings’ current superstar pitcher. The Yale graduate had other plans in mind. “Avery, a Skull & Bones Society blueblood, thought professional baseball beneath him and demurred,” according to baseball historian John Thorn.

Avery returned to his hometown of Cincinnati and became a successful lawyer, dying in 1927.

Meet the new New Haven captain: Juice Latham

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

George Latham was the only member of the New Haven Elm Cities to have not one, but two great nicknames. The club’s new field boss, appointed in mid-June 1875 was known alternately as Jumbo, for his stocky build, or Juice, for either his lack of speed on the base paths or his reputation as an umpire baiter and overall wild man on the ball field. Latham, only 22 years old in 1875, was an unlikely choice as the New Haven base ball club’s new captain, replacing the hapless Charlie Gould, who was moved to business manager.

The move was necessary. New Haven picked up a few decent players from some disbanded clubs around the league, and while strengthening the roster improved play, it was clear that Gould was over his head. “The New Haven nine is not well-managed apparently. Thus far it has been a more experimental team, hence its losses,” said the Brooklyn Eagle.

Enter Latham, who was recently hired from Boston to shore up the infield. Latham was born in Utica, New York in 1852. After his school days, he worked as a bricklayer while gaining notice on the town’s baseball club. His career flourished in Canada, starting his professional career playing first base in 1867 with clubs in Ottawa and Toronto, alternately working in a local factory and as a baggageman on a train.

According to his obituary, Harry Wright, the impresario of the dynastic Boston Red Stockings, saw Latham play in Canada and invited him on a tour of England in 1874. One of his obituary claims that Latham refused the prestigious appointment, but that doesn’t match up with the historical record. According to David Archdiacono’s research, Latham brazenly wrote Wright, asking for a job with Boston. “You must remember you are unknown to the club either personally or by reputation, and that when I saw last you were not able to run, although in all other respects I was favorably impressed with your playing,” Wright wrote in a letter to Latham.

Latham signed a three-year contract with the club for $560 for 1875 and $800 for each of the next two seasons. The contract was not ironclad and Latham was on an initial three-month probation period with Boston at the start of the season. He acquitted himself adequately, hitting .269 with 13 runs batted in in 16 games. However, this performance wasn’t up to Wright’s exacting standards, and he let Latham go.

Or, was his on field performance the only reason for his release? Another of Latham’s hometown obituaries offers a different reason for his arrival in New Haven. “The New Haven team was going to pieces and Mr. Wright released Latham to go to New Haven and take charge of the nine for the balance of the season,” according to a Utica newspaper obituary found in Latham’s Hall of Fame Library file.

No matter the reason. Latham had his work cut out for him, taking the reins of a club with a record of 2 wins and 21 losses and no cash in the bank available for improvement.

For a complete bio of Latham’s life, click here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/faf09fc5

 

 

 

 

 

New Haven and New York in pitcher duels; New York wins 2-1 in 11

Bobby Mathews, a small man at 5'5", 140 lbs, mastered the curve and the spitball, making him one of the first great pitchers

Bobby Mathews, a small man at 5’5″, 140 lbs, mastered the curve and the spitball, making him one of the first great pitchers

There couldn’t be a greater juxtaposition in the National Association between clubs than between the New Haven Elm Citys and their opponents on May 11, 1875, the Mutual Club of New York.

The Mutuals, formed out of a fire company and backed by Boss Tweed, had been playing baseball since 1858. The club was an amateur marvel, claiming championships and most of the earliest baseball stars. The Mutuals had something that New Haven didn’t – pedigree. But that doesn’t win baseball games. Since joining the National Association in 1871, the club was essentially a below-.500 team with pedigree. That changed in 1874 when they rode Bobby Mathews’ arm to a record of 42-23.

In addition to Mathews, the club did retain a few old pros for the 1875 season. Long Jim Holdsworth, who spurned New Haven in the off-season, was retained to provide a bit of offensive punch. Joe Start, known as Old Reliable, was coming off a season where he hit .314, and continued to hit well in 1875. Nat Hicks, the captain, lend good defensive support behind the plate and hit a respectable .274 in 1874. They had the kind of veteran talent New Haven couldn’t secure off the field and couldn’t handle when they were playing them on the field.

Despite a break in the difficult weather plaguing the early season, people were still staying away from Howard Avenue Grounds, with only about 300 in attendance. “There should have been a larger number of spectators on the grounds, but doubtless many supposed that the game would be a repetition of that on Monday,” the Evening Register said, referring to the team’s 13-0 loss against Philadelphia.

Great mustache

Great mustache – Bobby Mathews

New Haven duelled the Mutuals for 11 innings, losing 2-1, remaining winless on the season. “Matthews (sic) – the best pitcher in the country – troubled our boys not a little by his curves, and Nichols, not to be behindhand, did likewise by the visitors,” the Register said.

Mathews himself is an interesting figure, worthy of a moment. He was only 5’5”, weighing about 140 pounds, and he managed to pitch all of his teams games in 1874 and all but one in 1875. He is credited with throwing the first spitball and was known as a crafty pitcher, not one who would overpower you with his fastball. His pitching philosophy is quoted in Peter Morris’ Game of Inches: “Good, straight pitching, thorough command over the ball, a good ‘out-curve’ and a good ‘in-shoot’ are what the great pitchers are working with today, and I, for my part, don’t believe in anything else.”

Tricky Nichols, who might never win a game at this point

Tricky Nichols, who might never win a game at this point

The clubs were locked in a scoreless tie for five innings. Tricky Nichols, New Haven’s pitcher, was bending quite a bit, but not breaking. He allowed baserunners in each of the first five innings, with his defense pulling together to quell the threats. Bobby Mathews dominated,scattering three hits in the first five and striking out five Elm Citys in the first six innings. “The New Havens were quickly retired and as the Mutuals met with a like fate, everything was serene,” the Register said.

In this engraving Nat Hicks is behind the plate for the Mutuals

In this engraving Nat Hicks is behind the plate for the Mutuals

The Mutuals broke through first in the bottom of the sixth inning – the game was played in New Haven, but Captain Charlie Gould again lost the coin toss and had to bat first. New York’s Eddie Booth singled to right field to lead off the inning. He then stole second – his first of two key stolen bases in the game – and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Nat Hicks, the Mutuals catcher and captain, hit a fly ball to left field that scored Booth.

New Haven tied it in the top of the seventh. Gould singled over the shortstop. An error by third baseman Joe Gerhardt advanced Gould to third, and Nichols picked him up with a fly ball to left. “Gould scored for New Haven amidst great applause,” the Register wrote.

It was at this point in the game where the different between the skill of Mathews and Nichols became apparent. Mathews set down 11 of the last 12 batters he faced in a dominant performance. Nichols still had runners on constantly, and with a weak club like New Haven, it was sure to result in disaster. On cue, disaster arrived in the bottom of the 11th inning, the longest game the Elm Citys played thus far this season, and it was named Eddie Booth and Henry Geer.

Billy Geer made three errors

Billy Geer made three errors

Booth led off the 11th inning with a base hit that slipped between third and short and promptly stole second. With one out, Nat Hicks hit a grounder to Geer, who let it go through his legs, allowing Booth to score the winning run. New Haven was, to use the Register’s term, skunked.

Despite the loss, New Haven had much to be proud of. The club’s offensive woes continued, but they hung close against Mathews, one of the best arms in the league. Tricky Nichols pitched a good game. New Haven played good defense, Geer’s three errors on the day notwithstanding.

The Elm Citys’ next two games, both against the Washington Nationals, a team facing the same kind of problems both on the field and at the gate, could be just the tonic to cure the club’s woes.

SCORE BY INNINGS

NEW HAVEN – 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 1

NEW YORK – 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1- 2

WP – Bobby Mathews LP – Tricky Nichols (0-9)

New Haven lineup – Billy Geer, 2b, John McKelvey, rf (1 hit), Johnny Ryan, lf; Henry Luff, 3b (1 hit); Jim Tipper, rf; Charlie Gould, 1b (1 run, 2 hits); Sam Wright, ss; Stud Bancker, c (1 hit); Tricky Nichols (1 hit, losing pitcher)

New York – Joe Start, 1b (1 hit); Jim Holdsworth, ss; Candy Nelson, 2b (2 hits); Eddie Booth, rf (2 runs, 2 hits); Joe Gerhardt 3b; Nat Hicks, c (2 hits); Pat McGee, cf (1 hit); Count Gedney, lf; Bobby Mathews (winning pitcher)

 

Superstar comes back and New Haven can’t handle it, loses 13-0

Levi Meyerle, a 19th century superstar

Levi Meyerle, a 19th century superstar

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.

Tim Murnane, Naugatuck native and a pretty good ballplayer who would find fame as a Boston sportswriter

Tim Murnane, Naugatuck native and a pretty good ballplayer who would find fame as a Boston sportswriter

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.

Known as The Magnet for his fielding prowess, Bob Addy introduced the slide to baseball

Known as The Magnet for his fielding prowess, Bob Addy introduced the slide to baseball

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)

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.

Meet the players … for now

After a brief dalliance with Jack Chapman for the job, the New Haven Elm Citys found their first captain. Billy Arnold announced at a meeting of the club’s board of directors that Charles Gould of Cincinnati had agreed to play first base and lead the new franchise.

The role of captain was a significant one in the 1870s. Being captain wasn’t an honorary title, or a recognition of stature (think of Derek Jeter) with no formal responsibilities. The captain of the Elm Citys was the manager as we understand the role today – he set the lineups and ran in game strategy. He was also expected to be a prominent contributor on the field.

Charlie Gould, the Elm Citys first captain

Charlie Gould, the Elm Citys first captain

Gould, 27, was considered an excellent choice. Popular and good-natured, he appears to have been something of a phemonenon in Cincinnati during the early years of the sport’s popularity after the Civil War. In 1867, he won a local baseball contest for farthest throw with a toss of 302 ft. He played with dominant amateur teams and the nation’s the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, going undefeated nationally in 1869.

When Harry Wright, the godfather of the sport and manager of the Cincinnati nine, decided to start a franchise in Boston, Gould was one of the men he brought along.

It was a team that had tremendous success, amassing a 59-18 record in 1871 and 1872, winning the National Association the second year. He hit .267 over that time period, leading the league in triples in 1872. He took a year off in 1873 to go into business – in the offseasons he worked as a bookkeeper for his father’s company – but the lure of the diamond appears to have been too great. He returned to the National Association in 1874 with the Baltimore Canaries, a team that had nine wins and 38 losses. Gould did not perform well, hitting only .224.

He was tall for the time period, 6 ft. tall and 172 pounds, and had long arms and legs, something his contemporaries felt made him a particularly good fielder.

Despite numbers that would appear his career was on the downswing, his signing was met with excitement by the local press. “He is keen and energetic and free from dissipation, an excellent player at his base and at the bat,” the New Haven Daily Palladium wrote on March 5, 1875.

Arnold reported that he had signed eight other players, the vast bulk of the team when rosters tended to be about 12 players or so.

Tricky Nichols, a Bridgeport pitcher and the guy with the best nickname on the team

Tricky Nichols, a Bridgeport pitcher and the guy with the best nickname on the team

Two rookies, Stud Bancker, a 22-year-old catcher out of Pennsylvania, and Tricky Nichols, a 24-year-old pitcher, made up the team’s battery. “Nichols has never played before on a professional nine, but earned a good record last year with the T.B.’s of Bridgeport. His delivery is prompt and effective and at the bat he will do his share,” the Palladium said.

Billy, at one point the youngest player in the NA

Billy Geer, at one point the youngest player in the NA

Billy Geer, the second baseman, had the record of being the youngest man to ever play in the majors. At the age of 15, he played in two games with the New York Mutuals in 1874, going 2 for 8 (.250). His immature behavior figures prominently in the upcoming season.

Johnny Ryan, the left fielder, was also a retread from the disastrous 1874 Baltimore Canaries, hitting .193. He was 21 years old.

Jim Tipper, the center fielder and a 26-year-old Middletown native, appears on paper to have been a good signing. He was one of the only bright spots on the 1874 Hartford Dark Blues (16 wins and 37 losses), hitting .305. He also played with his hometown Middletown Mansfields in 1872, hitting .264.

Jim Britt led the league in losses two years running

Jim Britt led the league in losses two years running

Jim Britt, 19, had been out of professional baseball in 1874. He took a brutal beating as the main starting pitcher for the hapless Brooklyn Atlantics in 187273. Britt had a record of 26 wins and 64 losses with an earned run average of 4.26 in an era when pitchers gave up about three earned runs per game. He led the league in losses both seasons, and batted .223. He was intended to be the team’s “change pitcher.” There were no relief pitchers as we understand them, so Britt would be kept around to pitch on occasion if Nichols was injured.

Herm Doscher wasn't much of a player, but he discovered Wee Willie Keeler

Herm Doscher wasn’t much of a player, but he discovered Wee Willie Keeler

Herm Doscher, an outfielder with seven games of part-time service over two seasons with the Brooklyn Atlantics (10-30, .333), was also expected to contribute. (And, contribute he would, just not to the Elm Citys. He was the first big leaguer to father another big leaguer, Jack Doscher, and he was the scout responsible for finding Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler).

Another man, a right fielder named Hamilton was signed, but I couldn’t find any additional information on him, including his first name. He, along with Doscher, Geer and Britt, were signed to what was deemed a conditional contract. “They are engaged for the term of two months, and if their duties are perfectly satisfactory they will be retained upon the nine,” the Palladium reported.

With four of the players around on a temporary basis, Arnold had to explore more options in the days and weeks ahead.

There is wisdom in retrospect, but there is no way Arnold, nor Gould, for that matter, could have thought this team of fringe players and rookies would compete successfully in the National Association against great teams like Boston Red Stockings or the New York Mutuals. Perhaps Arnold sold a bill of good to the board of directors, a tactic that would be his undoing.