New Haven drops first three games of road trip, including one by forfeit

One would think that the change of scenery afforded by a southern road trip, in tandem with the addition of new players signed to key positions would change the New Havens’ luck. Not so. New Haven dropped two quick games shortly after leaving by boat to travel to New York. They first lost to the Brooklyn Atlantics, a team that would only win a pair of games in 1875, 14-4 on May 26, at an exceedingly hot and underattended game, according to the New York Sun. A day later, the Elm Citys played the New York Mutuals, and lost 8-5.

The modern day New York Mutuals, showing off the vintage uniform.

The modern day New York Mutuals, showing off the vintage uniform.

There were also the first rumblings of internal strife on the team. Pitcher Tricky Nichols, recuperating from a broken finger, was rumored to have expressed some dissatisfaction with the way the season was going thus far, complaints that had to be put to rest in the press. “Nichols is not going to leave the New Haven nine, so Ryan sends word. They will get a good team together, he says, if it takes all summer,” according to the Brooklyn Eagle on May 26, 1875.

The New Havens arrived in Washington D.C. to play the Nationals on May 30. The Washington National Republican, one of the few publications that directly covered the game, offered one of the few precise descriptions found in print of the New Haven uniform. “The visitors being attired in white flannels, trimmed in dark blue, blue and white plaid stockings, and the name of their organization on the breasts of their shirts,” the paper said.

With the additions of Ed Somerville and Tim McGinley, New Haven believed that they had a good chance to break its winless streak. “With these additions they have indulged the assurance that they are able to get away with our boys, and are evidently a little chagrined by the fact that they alone should be victimized by the representatives of the National Metropolis,” said the Washington National Republican. “This is a very credible feeling but it should not be indulged at the expense of friendly demeanor and courteous rivalry,” the paper said.

Umpires were local baseball men who needed to be approved by each team in order to work a game.

Umpires were local baseball men who needed to be approved by each team in order to work a game. The man in the suit near home plate is handling the job.

New Haven’s behavior during the game was anything but courteous. Early in the game, the umpire failed to award Johnny Ryan first base on a base on balls. It appeared the umpire was unaware of the rule. New Haven Captain Charlie Gould, quite properly, took the umpire to task over his error. The umpire reversed his decision, but his error began and deluge of argument from both teams throughout the game.

The ump is wearing a top hat in this 1872 woodcut.

The ump is wearing a top hat in this 1872 woodcut.

“Just here, let all gentlemen having any regards for the feelings and opinions of the patrons of the national game, and at the same time who are not posted in the latest edition of the baseball regulations, and had some experience in the art of umpiring, take a fool’s advice and take a fool’s advice and not put themselves up to be figureheads, to be insulted and mocked by the representatives of the common herd who always congregate at a ball game,” fussed the National Republican.

Getting into the spirit of the thing, the Olympics then began questioning the legality of New Haven pitcher Henry Luff’s delivery. Nineteenth century pitchers were obliged to keep their release point below the waist, something they claimed Luff was not doing. “It is extremely annoying to a crowd assembled for amusement to listen to quarrels of this description, and there is no surer method of bringing the game into dispute and disgusting the public,” the National Republican said.

Steve Brady tripled against the New Havens

Steve Brady tripled against the New Havens

In between the screaming and the shouting, a ball game took place. Washington jumped out to a three run lead in the top of the first inning, a rally assembled out of two errors, a single and a triple by second baseman Steve Brady, one of the better players on the club.

New Haven quickly answered with two in the bottom of the first, both scoring on a double by Luff, and four in the bottom of the second inning, with doubles by Gould, Ryan, and Luff leading the way.

New Haven held a 9-5 lead until the top of the seventh inning, when they remembered who they were and had a utter break down. Errors by Billy Geer, Henry Luff and John Bancker led to a four run inning for Washington.

Washington's winning pitcher in the second game

Bill Parks was Washington’s change pitcher

Washington then made a strategic pitching change, a extraordinarily infrequent occurence in the National Association, switching starting pitcher Bill Stearns to the outfield and bringing Bill Parks to the box. Parks threw two hitless innings, giving up a single unearned run.

In the top of the ninth Washington scored two more runs on clean hits by the shortstop Bill Daily and by Stearns, now playing center. It was 11-10 Washington going into the bottom of the inning.

Gould must have been apoplectic. His club had fumbled away a substantial lead, and now was dealing with a fresh pitcher on the mound who had already beaten them earlier this year. After just a few pitches to Jim Tipper, apparently inspired by the Olympics’ antics, Gould began to complain about Parks’ delivery, something he didn’t do the first time the clubs faced each other. The umpire dismissed Gould’s complaint, and in a moment of pique, he pulled his club off the field.

In the ensuing row, the fans rushed the field, making it impossible for the beleaguered umpire to restore order. “Chin music prevailed,” said the Republican. “And the umpire declared the game forfeit by the visitors.”

“The actions of Gould cannot be justified under any circumstances,” the paper said. Actually, in a sense, they can be. Gould was a prideful man who had competed on some of the most powerful baseball teams of the decade. Facing a 15 game losing streak, it is possible that this successful man’s calm demeanor snapped, and rather than face the loss on the field, he fled on technicality. It’s a very human response to the pressures he’d been facing in the press, and certainly from the stockholders.

Gould would have a chance to revenge himself on the Olympics the next day.


Brooklyn tips New Haven 3-2; bad umpiring partially to blame?


Charlie Pabor drove in the winning run against New Haven

Charlie Pabor, nicknamed The Old Woman in the Red Cap, drove in the winning run against New Haven

In the early years of baseball, the period before the sports’ early organization into professional leagues, the Brooklyn Atlantics were a truly fine team, one of the founding clubs of the National Association of Base Ball Players, an amateur group.

The club had fallen on hard times recently but the patina was still there. Brooklyn finished 22-33 in 1874, and turned over 7 of its 9 regulars coming into this season. Bill Boyd, a portly outfielder who was a fireman in the offseason, and club manager Charlie Pabor were the only players on the roster with any history of success in the National Association.

In short, they were perfect opponents for the new New Haven baseball club to test its mettle against. The New Haven Evening Register, in the lead up to the game, liked the Elm Citys’ chances. “It is expected that the two clubs are quite evenly matched that an interesting time may be expected. Let New Haven go in and win their first game now. The present is the time to do it,” the paper wrote.

New Haven would have to wait a bit longer, losing a close one to Brooklyn 3-2 on April 26, 1875, at least partially due to some questionable umpiring. “The spectators were not so numerous as they were last Saturday [against Yale in the first game at the Howard Avenue Grounds], but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in appreciative enthusiasm,” said the New Haven Daily Palladium.


John Cassidy

A rarity developed for the first five innings – a well played, well-fielded pitcher’s duel. Tricky Nichols (0 wins, 3 losses) limited Brooklyn to four hits over the first five innings. John Cassidy was even better, holding New Haven hitless through five. “The excitement of the crowd was at fever pitch and all expected a very close game,” the Daily Palladium noted after the fifth inning. “An entire ‘Chicago’ was expected,” the Register said, using the 19th century term for a shutout.

Nineteen century baseball games turn on physical mistakes and the opposition’s ability to capitalize on them. The sixth inning was mistake central for both teams.

The Atlantics led off the 6th inning with a single by Henry Kessler. Al Nichols doubled over right fielder Henry Luff’s head. Second baseman Billy Geer took Luff’s relay throw and chucked the ball over catcher Stud Bancker, allowing both runners to score.

New Haven, having difficulty scoring runs in the early part of the season, was faced with a do or die situation in the bottom of the 6th. The inning started off with a single by Johnny Ryan, who stole second and advanced to third on a single by Tricky Nichols. Cassidy, who struggled with wildness early in the game, got two quick strikes on Geer before the next pitch eluded catcher Jake Knowdell, with both runners scoring on the play.


Jake Knowdell 

Leading off the ninth, Cassidy singled. A single by Bobby Clack advanced the runner to third. Both hits were clouded in controversy. The New Haven Register, critical of the umpiring of Hartford resident Charlie Daniels, claimed that both fair-foul hits – a 19th century rule that allowed a ball that struck in fair territory and then rolled foul before reaching first base to be in play – were actually simply foul balls. Charlie Pabor, known as The Old Woman in the Red Cap, a truly fine nickname, drove in the winning run on a grounder back to pitcher Nichols.

The Register continued to boost the club’s efforts, despite the results. “New Haven has every reason to be proud of her nine. The work they did yesterday, against the odds opposed to them, makes them rank well in the professional arena,” the paper wrote.

The papers differed on how Daniels performed in the game against Brooklyn. “Several times the spectators manifested their disapprobation of his rulings in a very marked way,” according to the New Haven Evening Register, noting the problems with the fair-foul hits and a strikeout. The Palladium didn’t agree. “The umpire’s position is always a thankless one, and we were unable to perceive any glaring manifestations of of partiality yesterday,” the Palladium said.

It would turn out that Brooklyn and New Haven would have similar trajectories in 1875, and John Cassidy and Charlie Pabor would end up playing important role in the baseball lives of both cities.


** The Elm Citys were slightly banged up heading into the game with Brooklyn. Catcher Stud Bancker was playing with a sprained ankle, prompting the need for a courtesy runner in the game. Outfielder Johnny Ryan got hit in the face with a foul ball while catching in a scrimmage against Yale. In the early going, because the Elm Citys started to sign players late, the club only fielded nine men. Lester Dole, the son of a Yale University professor and the team’s preseason gym instructor, played in a couple of scrimmages as an outfielder to provide the squad a bit of depth.

** After the Register baited the Hartford Dark Blues in print early in the week, the nascent Hartford/New Haven rally took on a new twist. Brooklyn, who had recently played Hartford, had insisted that Charlie Daniels, an amateur ballplayer from the Connecticut capital, call the game. Naturally, Captain Charlie Gould not only balked at Daniels’ presence, but early in the game had to actually pull out the rule book to educate the ump. I mean literally show the guy a rule book.


Brooklyn – 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 – 3

New Haven – 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 – 2

W – John Cassidy L – Tricky Nichols (0-3)

Brooklyn lineup – Bill Boyd, rf (2-5); Henry Kessler, ss (2-5, 1 run); Al Nichols, 3b (2-4, 1 run); Fred Crane, 1b (1-4); Tom Patterson, 2b (0-4); John Cassidy, p (1-4, 1 run); Jake Knowdell, c (0-4); Bobby Clack, cf (2-4); Charlie Pabor, lf (0-4, 1 rbi)

New Haven lineup – Billy Geer, 2b (0-4); Sam Wright, ss (0-4); Henry Luff, rf (0-4); Stud Bancker, c (0-4); John McKelvey, 3b (1-3); Charlie Gould, 1b (0-3); Johnny Ryan, lf (1-3, 1 run); Jim Tipper, cf (0-3); Tricky Nichols, p (1-3, 1 run)


Barlow causes more trouble …

It was a particularly bad winter in New Haven early in 1875. Winter storms encased the city in ice, the thawing of which created incidents of flooding throughout the city. The Board of Alderman was concerned with the grading of Congress Avenue and the addition of cross street from High to College streets. A special election was going to be held to replace two aldermen who’d died in office.

Despite the continued coverage of the New Haven Daily Palladium, baseball appears to have been the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.

The local burghers who made up the Board of Directors of the New Haven Elm Citys huddled up in the Tontine Hotel first week of March to receive a bit of news they cannot have been happy with.

The Tontine Hotel

The Tontine Hotel

However, before we get to that, let’s talk about these board meetings. The newspaper accounts of the time period are diligent about reporting on these meetings but they give no sense of the tone of them. No sense of whether they were contentious in any way. No sense of the personalities of the people involved, although an individual voice might emerge in the accounts.

Here is what I think they were like, based on nothing but speculation and imagination. The board members all walked to the hotel, a rather sumptuous affair located where the courthouse on the Green currently stands. They were dressed in suits, with heavy watch fobs hanging from their vests, and tall hats on their heads. They were the epitome of small town success, men at their financial peaks in a city that was about to go big league, literally and figuratively. They were greet each other warmly – for the time being – and decorously before beginning their work.

Carlos Smith. W.W. Ward. Alfred Thomas. George W.M. Reed. W.S. Arnold. Charles Webster. Eli Hills. Julius Tyler Jr. H.L. Bradley.  Tyler owned a wholesale grocery business on State Street. H.L. Bradley would go on to have patents in his name. Ward ran the New Haven and West Haven Horse Railroad, which terminated right near the proposed home field. These were the men calling the shots. Businessmen and political leaders, all.

They would meet in the handsome lobby before repairing to a plush meeting room – not too expensive, mind you, but just enough to let everyone know that the New Haven Elm Citys were a serious operation.

Carlos Smith was the president and he would call the meeting to order, modelling their rules of order off of a serious government agency. I envision Arnold, the equivalent of the general manager, as a sturdy, yet slight man – a ballplayer gone a bit to seed, carrying ledgers and reams of papers. He would present his newest project before the board. Murmuring and rumblings would occur back and forth. In the back of the room, a young man would be smoking and scribbling notes on folded up sheafs of copy paper – the reporter from the Daily Palladium.

The New Haven Palladium, a broadsheet that ran in one form or another from the 1840s through the 1880s

The New Haven Palladium, a broadsheet that ran in one form or another from the 1840s through the 1880s

At the end of the meeting, cigars and glasses of fine spirits would be passed (to the reporter too), but not too much because forming this team was serious work for serious minded people.

They would shake hands and walk off into the gaslit night, a couple of them huddled together for some post meeting machinations, Arnold scurrying off to his next appointed round, the Tontine glowing like a stage set waiting for their next little show.

This is what I imagine it is like.

So, back to what really happened at the meeting. The board heard from Arnold that they club’s problem with drug addicted catcher Tom Barlow has taken a strange turn. I’ll let the Palladium scribe tell it:

“Barlow claims he has never signed any legal contract with the Atlantic club, and is of the opinion that Mr. Van Delft, the manager of that club, has put up a job on him to keep him from coming to New Haven, where he wants to play, if he can, merely for his board if nothing more, for the purpose of demonstrating to the New Haven directors that he is square and innocent of trickery.”

Arnold was scheduled to meet with Van Delft and Barlow at a hotel in Brooklyn, but the Atlantics manager didn’t show up. However, Van Delft appears to have been trying this particular issue in the media, questioning Barlow’s ongoing health in the Brooklyn Sunday Mercury.

Barlow, clinging to what is left of his baseball career, offers to have a physical, something that does not appear to be common practice at the time, and whatever the doctor says he will abide.

Arnold appears to be skeptical. “ … If he cannot come to the club with a clear record, his services will not be required,” the Palladium wrote in one of the moments where I believe an authentic voice is captured.

One can hear an echo of faint bravado, of Arnold reporting to the board that he is in control of a situation he is clearly not.

Tom Barlow: Baseball’s first drug casualty?

One of the first bits of trouble for the New Haven franchise emerged in late February. Arnold attempted to sign Tom Barlow, a talented, yet troubled catcher and shortstop.

Tom Barlow, catcher for the Atlantics, Dark Blues, and Elm Citys

Tom Barlow

Barlow would have been a fine addition to the roster. He was a better than average offensive player, hitting .290 over the course of his career, and commonly regarded as one of the innovators of the bunt. He caught all his team’s games in 1873, and led the league in stolen bases a year later. He was also considered a fine defender in an era when an unsteady catcher could be a team’s undoing with constant passed balls and poor throwing.

According to the local press, manager Billy Arnold was accused of not acting honorably in his signing of Barlow. “The Barlow matter has been the subject of conversation in base ball circles, the sporting press taking unusual interest in the matter, and seem happy in heaping abuse upon Messrs. Arnold and Douglass [a member of the Elm Citys Board of Directors] for having signed Barlow for the New Havens when he was already signed for the [Brooklyn] Atlantics, which facts Mr. Van Deft of the Atlantics claims those gentlemen knew when they signed him,” the New Haven Daily Palladium reported.

Arnold promptly went back to Brooklyn and spoke with owner Van Deft, trying to make amends. Arnold also tried to seek out his erstwhile catcher, visiting “several of the places where he is generally to be found.”

The Daily Palladium claimed that because of Barlow’s malfeasance, he would be suspended for the season by the leaders of the National Association. It would take some time for this situation to be sorted out, creating tension between Arnold, the Board of Directors, Van Deft and league leadership.

Barlow’s situation was not simply a case of flagrant disregard for a contract, common enough at the time when players routinely jumped contracts for a better deal.

Barlow had suffered a serious injury while playing for the Hartford Dark Blues in 1874. He had been struck in the side by a fastball from pitcher Cherokee Fisher, a hurler noted for his speed.

Cherokee Fisher of the Hartford Dark Blues

Cherokee Fisher

In the 1870s, players played barehanded and without padding of any sort. Injuries as a result of errant throws were common. Doug Allison, a catcher in the National Association, was first reported to use a glove to nurse an injury in 1870. The first glove used in the way we understand them would be used this season, 1875, by a St. Louis outfielder/first baseman named Charlie Waitt. Waitt used flesh colored gloves, trying to mitigate the amount of aspersions on his manhood he would receive as a result of his innovation.

Doug Allison's mangled hands after years of pro ball

Doug Allison’s mangled hands after years of pro ball

Barlow’s treatment led to additional problems that would end up destroying his baseball career. In a sad letter to the Boston Times written in 1877, Barlow claims that he was given a shot of morphine by a doctor treating that injury. He quickly became severely addicted to the drug, spending as much as $8 a day to feed the habit.

He played his last two professional baseball games (one for New Haven) in 1875 at the age of 23, possibly baseball’s first drug casualty. “I’d rather have died behind the bat than having that first dose,” he said.

Nothing more is known about his life or how he died.

David Archdianoco goes into the Barlow story in tremendous detail here: