New Haven returns home from unsuccessful road trip, loses to Hartford 12-0

1875 Hartford Dark Blues

1875 Hartford Dark Blues

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.

New first baseman Juice Latham in 1875

New first baseman Juice Latham in 1875

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.

Charlie Gould, the Elm Citys first captain

Charlie Gould, the Elm Citys first captain

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.

Candy Cummings shut out New Haven

Candy Cummings shut out New Haven

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.

Candy Cummings' plaque at the Hall of Fame. Virtually none of the information on it is factual.

Candy Cummings’ plaque at the Hall of Fame. Virtually none of the information on it is factual.

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.

 

Bill Harbidge, Hartford's backup catcher

Bill Harbidge, Hartford’s backup catcher

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.

 

Intrastate rivalry begins, Hartford beats New Haven 6-3

1875 Hartford Dark Blues

1875 Hartford Dark Blues

Before the Yankees and the Red Sox, Connecticut’s first great baseball rivalry, stoked gleefully by the press and anticipated by the clubs as a moneymaker, was between the Hartford Dark Blues and the New Haven Elm Citys.

Over 4,000 people, including several hundred ladies, assembled on May 5, 1875 at what was known as the Colt property in Hartford to watch what the New Haven Evening Register described as “what was expected to be a one sided game.” “However, you can never count upon anything and the glorious uncertainty of base ball was evident to all yesterday,” the paper said.

Hartford continued its winning streak to open the campaign, defeating New Haven 6-3. However, the New Haven press saw the game as an improvement over the club’s previous performances. “The confidence of the people of this city in the New Haven nine, which was slightly weakened by the games with the Yale and Centennial nines, out to be restored by the excellent game played yesterday with the Hartfords,” according to the New Haven Daily Palladium.

The Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut's capital in 1875

The Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut’s capital in 1875

According to writer David Arcidiacono, the tension between the two cities was primarily bred of politics and not sports. Since the 17th century, the capital of Connecticut alternated between New Haven and Hartford every other year. When that relatively strange arrangement became untenable in 1873, the choice of capital city was put to the voters to decide. Hartford won the referendum, 37,000 to 31,000.

The sting of the voters’ rebuke still hurt New Haven’s civic pride, which manifested in strange ways. For example, New Haven objected to the umpiring work of Charlie Daniels in the May 1 game against the Centennials, balking that he was assigned to the game at all. Daniels was a talented and honest umpire, one who would go on to work for years in the National League. But he was from Hartford, and that was enough for the New Haven club to disqualify him. The Register protested that it had nothing to do with his domicile and everything to do with his absence from the umpires roster prior to the game. The paper, everyone thought, doth protest too much. “Queer town, that New Haven; having lost the semi-capital, it doesn’t even want a Hartford umpire at her base ball matches,” the Hartford Post claimed.

Bob Ferguson

Bob Ferguson

There was also a certain amount of 19th century smack talk going on, bulletin board fodder that surely enraged the courtly New Haven Captain Charlie Gould. “The stockholders will probably have the pleasure of seeing the name of their club at the foot of the list at the close of the season,” Hartford captain Bob Ferguson said, assessing the Elm Citys’ chance of success. “Pleasant prospect for ‘em, isn’t it?”

A sign on the border of East Haven and New Haven bore the inscription “New Heaven.” “Still the people down there wonder why their pet nine can’t play base ball,” said the Hartford Post.

The truth was, the Elm Citys couldn’t truly compete with Hartford. The club had gone 16-37 in 1874, but had completely turned over its roster in 1875. They had two effective pitchers in Tommy Bond and Candy Cummings (who would go to the Hall of Fame for ostensibly inventing the curveball). Catcher Doug Allison was considered one of the league’s best receiver, and also could help at the plate, hitting .285 over the course of his National Association career. First baseman Everett Mills was coming off a season batting .332. Captain Bob Ferguson, the game’s first switch hitter, was known as a brainy field leader and fine third baseman, garnering him one of baseball’s great nicknames, “Death to Flying Things.” Every man in the lineup was a veteran ballplayer with a track record of success. Hartford would be a formidable opponent for the league this season.

Despite the war of words, primarily coming from Hartford it seemed, the clubs still had to play the game. The Dark Blues were “as weak at the bat against (pitcher Tricky) Nichols as (New Haven) was against Cummings,” according to the Hartford Courant.

Everett Mills

Everett Mills

After no score for the first two innings, Hartford jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead. Everett Mills lead off with a single for Hartford and advanced to second on a ground out. Nichols struck out catcher Doug Allison (he of the mangled hands). Nichols was poised to get out of the inning before New Haven had a defensive meltdown. Jack Burdock grounded to New Haven third baseman Henry Luff, who botched it for an error. Tom Carey singled, but Luff wildly overthrew catcher Stud Bancker for his second error of the inning, allowing two runs to score. Candy Cummings hit one right through shortshop Sam Wright’s wickets for another error and another run.

John McKelvey, outfielder and third baseman

John McKelvey, outfielder and third baseman

New Haven would come back in the top of the sixth inning to make it a game again. “The Hartfords were somewhat demoralized in the sixth inning, and this demoralization allowed the visitors to secure three runs,” was the Hartford Courant’s assessment. Pitcher Tricky Nichols singled to short center. Billy Geer reached on what the Register described as a “foolish” error by Hartford second baseman Jack Burdock. Right fielder John McKelvey, one of New Haven’s best hitters, singled, scoring Nichols, with Geer right behind him on a throwing error by centerfielder Jack Remsen. Johnny Ryan reached on an error by Ferguson, but inadvertanly helped bring in the third run of the inning. He was throw out stealing, and McKelvey scored on the play.

Candy Cummings

Candy Cummings

Cummings regained control of the game for Hartford, throwing three scoreless innings, yielding a single hit, to finish out the contest. Nichols matched him until the bottom of the eighth inning. Allison and Burdock led off the inning with a pair of clean singles. A combination of an error by McKelvey and a couple of groundouts scored both runnings. Hartford also picked up a garbage run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Cummings finished off giving up only four hits, striking out four Elm Citys.

The Register singled out the performances of Geer, Gould, Bancker and Luff, and praised Nichols for overcoming his wildness. “As a whole, the nine seems to be improving very materially in their play. It is hoped now that they will keep up the play which they have shown, and we have no doubt that they will give the best nines in the country a close struggle,” the Register said.

Next up for New Haven, another strong club, the Philadelphia Whites.

SCORE BY INNINGS

NEW HAVENS – 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 – 3

HARTFORDS – 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 – 6

WP – Candy Cummings  LP – Tricky Nichols (0-5)

Hartford lineup – Doug Allison, c (1 run, 2 hits); Jack Burdock, 2b (2 hits, 2 runs); Tom Carey, ss (1 run, 1 hit); Candy Cummings, p (two hits – winning pitcher); Tom York, lf; Bob Ferguson, 3b; Jack Remsen, cf (1 run); Everett Mills, 1b (1 run, 1 hit); Tommy Bond, rf.

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