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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New Haven makes 21 errors, loses to Hartford 10-0

Hartford pitcher Candy Cummings shut out New Haven for the second time in a week

Hartford pitcher Candy Cummings shut out New Haven for the second time in a week

There was some sense in New Haven baseball circles that the recent 3-2 win over the Hartford Dark Blues would be the beginning of something good for the club, which was currently mired with a record of two wins and 20 losses.

“We may well believe that this reverse was also a surprise to Hartford and their backers. The New Havens received many well-earned congratulations yesterday and will now take up the bat with renewed courage,” boasted the New Haven Palladium.

But it was not to be. New Haven continued its consistently losing ways, dropping their June 14 game 10-0 in Hartford in front of approximately 500 people. New Haven managed only five hits against Candy Cummings. Hartford, on the other hand, had their way with starter Johnny Ryan and substitute pitcher Henry Luff, carving out 11 hits, including three by catcher Doug Allison and two by third baseman/captain Bob Ferguson.

Bob Ferguson, captain of the Hartford club and the first switch hitter in baseball history

Bob Ferguson, captain of the Hartford club and the first switch hitter in baseball history

“The bulletin board was studied as the game progressed, and as inning by inning the New Havens scored ciphers, and the Hartfords rolled up tangible figures faces grew elongated, and when the score of 10 to 0 in favor of the Hartfords was recorded, such as had hazarded a bagatelle or so in the exuberance of their souls on the New Havens retired from the busy throngs far from the maddening crowd,” wrote the New Haven Journal.

Tim McGinley was injured against Hartford but was forced to stay in the game

Tim McGinley 

Again, a lack of depth hurt New Haven. Catcher Tim McGinley injured his hand during the game, but with no reserves at all (unlike New Haven, most National Association team had about 12 men on the roster), captain Charlie Gould was forced to improvise. Johnny Ryan, who had previously been pitching, moved behind the plate where he had gained some experience in exhibition games. Henry Luff, normally a third baseman, moved to the box. He had pitched quite a bit – with little success – during the recent road trip. McGinley couldn’t come out of the game or New Haven would have to forfeit, so he went to third base. It was a ramshackle arrangement.

Consequently, New Haven made 21 errors in the game, according to the box score, with Ryan and McGinley accounting for 13 of them. Hartford played errorless ball.

Captain Charlie Gould had a decision to make. Without starting pitcher Tricky Nichols, who was recovering from a hand injury, it seemed that the club had no chance against the professional Hartford hitters. With the team scheduled to play Hartford again the next day, Gould simply decided to not show up. After the 10-0 loss on June 14, the club packed up and took the late train to New Haven, a fairly desperate move on every level. According to the New Haven Union, the club decided it was better policy to forfeit the game rather than “suffer a disasterous defeat for want of a good pitcher.”

Friends of the New Haven club were crushed by the turn of events. While attendance at home games was relatively low, people were paying attention to the club’s fortunes and looking for answers. “One impression was that the club had got demoralized over its success in Rhode Island, while the Hartforders had stuck solely to business. Other had another theory, and the uncertaintt of all things were here below was propounded as a good rule to apply to the case, Nobody had settled the question at a late hour,” the Journal said.

New Haven would play the Philadelphia Athletics later that week.

New Haven wins! Defeats Washington 9-2

New Haven centerfielder Jim Tipper led the team to its first win with three runs scored and two hits.

New Haven centerfielder Jim Tipper led the team to its first win with three runs scored and two hits.

The New Haven Elm Citys have lost almost every way possible thus far during the 1875 season. They’ve been pummeled. They’ve handed games away via errors and passed balls. They’ve played very good teams fairly closely. They’ve lost because of injuries, ineffectiveness and incompetence. They’ve even forfeited because of a tantrum thrown by their manager. At some point, something has to break their way.

“Our nine have been defeated so often, and withal, have played so many close losing games with superior clubs, that its seems a real pleasure to record a victory,” said the New Haven Evening Register.

After 15 straight losses to start the 1875 season, the club beat the Washington Nationals by the score of 9-2 on May 31, 1875. Henry Luff, the former third baseman forced into pitching duties with the injury of regular starter Tricky Nichols, recorded his first victory of the season.

No play by play account of the game was immediately available – New Haven publications didn’t tend to send their writers on the road, and the Washington D.C. papers I have access to didn’t seem to carry stories about it. So, the particulars heroics have been lost. I can only imagine that the sense of relief around the club was palpable. Some onfield success would likely draw better players and more fans to the games. There was a continued sense from coverage of the team that success would breed more success.

New acquired catcher Tim McGinley led New Haven to its first win of the season

New acquired catcher Tim McGinley led New Haven to its first win of the season

The New Haven papers thought enough of the game to publish the box score several days later. Centerfielder Jim Tipper led the offense with three runs scored and two hits. Catcher Tim McGinley, one of the club’s new acquisitions, and pitcher Luff, chipped in three hits and a run scored each. Johnny Ryan, the left fielder who moved behind the plate when McGinley got injured later in the game, scored two runs. John Hollingshead got a pair of hits for Washington.

It may be only a single victory, but there is a feeling around the club that things are looking up. The local press has been encouraged by the acquisition of catcher McGinley and infielder Ed Somerville.

New first baseman Juice Latham in 1875

New first baseman Juice Latham in 1875

The big move, and one that could spell trouble for Captain and first baseman Charlie Gould, was the signing of 23-year-old first baseman George ‘Juice’ Latham, recently of the Boston Red Stockings where he hit .269 in 16 games.

A brazen rookie, Latham wrote a letter to iconic Red Stockings Captain Harry Wright asking for a job with the team. Wright took a shot and offered him a three month contract. Latham’s performance was considered merely adequate, but Wright thought enough of him to facilitate his arrival in New Haven, at least according to one version of the story found in his file at the Hall of Fame library. The other story of how he came to New Haven is that Harry Wright wanted him to accompany the team to England and Latham refused, prompting his dismissal. No matter the reason for Latham’s arrival, the Register felt that he would help bring more victories to the ailing franchise. “The nine will be very materially strengthened,” the Register said.

One more game against Washington coming up, and then the Elm City Club will start their trek back to Connecticut.

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.

New faces in New Haven; injuries prompt several roster changes

Thirteen games into a winless season, the New Haven club was starting to struggle with injuries that forced players from the lineup. Pitcher Tricky Nichols was laid up with a broken finger. Sammy Wright, the shortstop, had a sprained ankle.

By and large, nineteenth-century baseball players played hurt. There were no pitch counts or rehab assignments to nurse a player back to health, and no disabled list as a mechanism to heal. With National Association teams tending to carry about 12 players on the roster, and New Haven generally carrying only enough to field a team, it meant new faces would put on a uniform.

Without a standardized scouting system, finding players was a difficult task. Willis Arnold, the club’s first general manager, went to find players in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, a sound idea at the time given both cities were hotbeds of the sport. With Arnold cashiered before the season even began, there doesn’t appear to have been a systematic effort by Captain Charles Gould in place to augment the roster in the event of injury. New Haven fell back on hiring players who were either recent Yale men, or members of the Bridgeport semi-pro team, including Sullivan, who performed well, Rit Harrison, who could hit but not field, and John Smith, who could do neither.

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

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

As the New Haven team planned its first road trip of the season, changes were necessary. Tom Barlow, the drug addicted catcher who gave two teams the runaround this offseason, returned to make the trip.

Jim Keenan, a future major leaguer who would serve as a backup for New Haven

Jim Keenan, a future major leaguer who would serve as a backup for New Haven

The New Haven Daily Palladium noted that a pitcher named Perroy was acquired to take Nichols’ place in the box, but it doesn’t appear from the records that he would ever play for the Elm Citys. Gould would choose to use outfielder Johnny Ryan and third baseman Henry Luff to handle the pitching. Seventeen year old Jim Keenan, a local amateur who would go on to a long major league career, would travel with the squad. Lester Dole, the son of the Yale professor responsible for the club’s conditioning in the preseason, would also serve as a substitute.

Lester Dole played in a single game for the Elm Citys. Became known as an educator and a championship walker

Lester Dole played in a single game for the Elm Citys. Became known as an educator and a championship walker

Aside from Keenan and Sullivan, who appeared in multiple games, none of the substitutes would have any impact on the team. Barlow, Smith, Harrison, and Dole would each appear in a single game with the team, with decidedly mixed results.

Ed Somerville would lead the league in errors at second base in 1875

Ed Somerville would lead the league in errors at second base in 1875

However, with clubs in the league folding and more players becoming available, help was on the way. The Washington Centennials went out of business on May 24 and New Haven quickly signed catcher Tim McGinley and second baseman Ed Somerville. Both players were rookies in 1875, but Somerville had already gained a reputation as a fine fielder and hitter, according to manager Jack Chapman’s scrapbooks, stored at the Baseball Hall of Fame library.  Somerville was hitting .228 when he signed with New Haven. McGinley hit .231 before arriving in New Haven.

Tim McGinley

Tim McGinley

With pressure mounting from the local press and stockholders concerned about their financial investment, Gould hoped that these players could help turn the team around. It turns out that in a small way they would.

 

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)

 

Rain can’t even stop New Haven from losing, falls to Philly 12-5

Fred_Warner

Fred Warner

The Centennial Club of Philadelphia came into its May 1 home game with New Haven having lost its first four games of the season. If anyone was ripe to be beaten, it was the Centennials, struggling on the field and listing at the box office.

New Haven’s first win would have to continue to wait, falling to the Centennials at Columbia Park 12-5. Fred Warner got three hits and scored four runs for Philadelphia, and the Elm Citys made at least 10 errors – one column of the box score counts at least twice that number. The box score seems to differentiate between errors that allow runners to reach first base, and errors made once a runner reached first.

Rain inundated the field, forcing Umpire Dole to call the game after three innings, a boon for New Haven who was already down 7-0. Having not played a minimum of five innings, New Haven’s deficit would have been washed away by rule if not for a strategic error by Elm Citys Captain Charlie Gould. “At the urgent request of one of the Centennials’ backers, who vociferated most violently, Captain Gould continued the game, but under protest,” the New Haven Evening Register reported.

George Bechtel, the first man sold to another team and banned from the sport

George Bechtel

New Haven did mount a comeback, scoring one run in the fourth inning and four in the fifth inning before being shut down the rest of the way by Centennials pitcher George Bechtel. Billy Geer, John McKelvey, Jim Tipper, and Tricky Nichols each had a couple of hits for New Haven, and Gould himself scored two runs (and made eight errors in the game).

Gould’s major decisions thus far during the season have not generally worked out. Starting the season against Boston, something Gould agreed to, resulted in two losses. Tinkering with the lineup only appears to have exacerbated the problem. “Our nine, if they intend to win a game, must be assigned positions, and must play them in each and every game, as by this only can success be attained,” the Register fumed.

The Centennial Baseball Club was also a newcomer to the National Association. According to Paul Batesel’s research, long time Philadelphia Athletic Hicks Hayhurst believed the city could support more than two teams and attempted to cash in on the baseball craze. The name itself was marketing ploy intended to cash in on the nation’s upcoming centennial.

But the problems endemic to New Haven – not enough players or money – became magnified with the Centennials. The club managed to sign four players with prior experience, making them more successful than New Haven in that regard. However, those men came with baggage. Three of the players – John Radcliff, Bill Craver, and George Bechtel – had been accused of tampering with the integrity of games and were later expelled from the sport for game fixing. Another player, Fred Treacey, signed contracts with two teams at the same time.

The fate of the Centennials, who would only last as a team through the end of May, would impact the New Havens later on in the season.

One final note. Notwithstanding the rain delay and the multiple errors, the game only took two hours to play.

There is something to the idea of pace, something lost in the modern game. Everyone steps out of the box and adjusts every piece of equipment on their bodies (watch Mike Hargrove do this, known as the Human Rain Delay), and pitchers parade around the mound as if the next pitch determined the fate of mankind (Jeff Weaver used to be great for this). Managers manage a game other than the one they are watching, chasing infintesimal percentages mainly to look as if they are doing something (Joe Girardi, looking at you, although I suppose we really have Tony Larussa to blame for the onslaught of bad middle relievers in every game.)

There is something pure about the idea of you put your best nine guys out there, and I’ll get mine and we’ll see how it goes.  And on May 1, 1875, that’s exactly what happened between New Haven and Philadelphia.

**

Bill Craver

Bill Craver

Side note, the Centennials had a lot of off the field firsts. Bill Craver and George Bechtel were sold to the Philadelphia Athletics on May 26, 1875 for $1,500, a move to encourage the team to disband, according baseball-reference.com. It was the first sale of players in baseball history. Bechtel was also the first man ever permanently banned from the game.

**

SCORE BY INNINGS

NEW HAVENS – 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 – 5

CENTENNIALS – 3 2 2 0 0 1 1 1 2 – 12

WP – George Bechtel  LP – Tricky Nichols (0-4)

Centennials lineup – Bill Craver, ss (2 runs); Len Lovett, rf (1 hit, 2 runs); George Bechtel, p (1 run, 1 hit – winning pitcher); George Trenwith, 3b (1 run); Fred Treacey, lf (1 run); Fred Warner, cf (4 runs, 3 hits); Ed Somerville, 2b; Tim McGinley, c (1 run); Charlie Mason, 1b (1 hit).

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