New Haven kicks away home opener, loses to Boston 14-3

Harry Wright, Red Stockings manager, who defeated New Haven twice in a row to start off the 1875 season

Harry Wright, Red Stockings manager, who defeated New Haven twice in a row to start off the 1875 season

For a couple of innings on April 21, 1875, it was almost as if the New Haven Elm Citys and the Boston Red Stockings switched roles.

In the first inning, New Haven jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, taking advantage of a couple of hits by Billy Geer and Sam Wright and a Boston error “amidst great applause,” the Register said. Boston went very quietly in the bottom of the inning.

Baseball order was restored beginning in the third inning when Boston turned aggressive baserunning, a pair of New Haven errors, and some timely hits into three runs, starting a 14-3 rout, featuring 10 errors by the Elm Citys. “Notwithstanding the rawness of the weather — reminding one of November, rather than April — a large crowd gathered yesterday afternoon, on the old grounds at Hamilton Park … everyone shivered and shook, but all stayed until the game was over,” said the New Haven Daily Palladium.

The Elm Citys were playing at Hamilton Park, the home of Yale’s baseball team off Whalley Avenue near Hubinger Street and West Rock, because their home field at Howard Avenue wasn’t complete.

Hamilton Park, the home of Yale football and baseball in the 19th century, was located near Edgewood Park

Hamilton Park, the home of Yale football and baseball in the 19th century, was located near Edgewood Park

The Boston half of the third inning, deemed “disasterous” by the Register, began with a triple by Deacon White over centerfielder Jim Tipper’s head. Jack Manning and Juice Latham reached on consecutive errors, scoring White. George Wright then hit a two-run single. Boston followed it up with a run in the fourth, three more in the fifth inning, and single runs in the seventh and eighth.

Deacon White, a future Hall of Famer, started the rout for Boston with a triple

Deacon White, a future Hall of Famer, started the rout for Boston with a triple

This game allows us to point out another quirks in the 19th century game. The team batting first was agreed upon by coin toss or some other means, not by being the visiting team. In addition, all nine innings were played regardless of the score — Boston led 9-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, where they scored five more, all with two outs in the inning.

Ross Barnes gets three hits against New Haven

Ross Barnes gets three hits against New Haven

Ross Barnes led the Bostons with three runs and three hits. George Wright drove in four runs. “For the Bostons, all did well, and it would be invidious to particularize,” the Register said.

Charlie Gould drives in one of New Haven's three runs

Charlie Gould drives in one of New Haven’s three runs

New Haven scratched out a additional run in the seventh on a single by Captain Charlie Gould – who surely regrets scheduling Boston by now – driving in Henry Luff.

The New Haven Register, ever the booster, praised the New Haven team for its efforts against such a good squad. “Taken as a whole the game was a creditable one but the last innings could have been bettered very easily,” reported the Register.

The Register cited Billy Geer and Sammy Wright as all around standouts, with third baseman John McKelvey and Luff hitting well. Luff made several baserunning blunders, killing a pair of New Haven rallies. Pitcher Tricky Nichols and McKelvey each made three errors in the game.

John McKelvey, outfielder and third baseman

John McKelvey, outfielder and third baseman

In an echo of the argument between former general manager Willis Arnold and the Board of Directors, the New Haven Register astutely argued that Boston might not have been the best choice of opponent to start the season.  “Let the boys brace up and when they encounter clubs of more recent organization then the Bostons, we are confident that they will not be behindhand,” the Register said.

New Haven drops to no wins and two losses. Their next National Association opponent is the Brooklyn Atlantics on April 26, 1875.

***

NEW HAVEN – 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 – 3

BOSTON – 0 0 3 1 3 0 1 1 5 – 14

Earned runs – Boston 1, New Haven 1; Errors – New Haven 10, Boston 3 Time of game: 1 hr, 50 minutes

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

Boston lineup – George Wright, ss (1 runs, 2 hits); Cal McVey, cf (2 runs, 1 hit); Ross Barnes, 2b (3 runs, 3 hits); Al Spalding p (1 run, 2 hits – winning pitcher); Andy Leonard, lf (2 hits); Deacon White, c (1 runs, 2 hits); Jack Manning, rf (2 runs, 0 hits); Juice Latham (1 run, 0 hits); Harry Schafer, 3b (3 runs, 0 hits).

 

Boston chills New Haven on Opening Day

Al-Spalding

Al Spalding shut out the Elm Citys on Opening Day 1875

There was plenty of news to print on April 19, 1875.

The front page of the New Haven Register was a crazy newsprint quilt of items – local news given equal play with obscure world events. In North Haven, a minister exhorted his congregation to make sure they were vaccinated. Henry Beecher, the most famous minister of the time, was engulfed in a New York scandal that filled the front pages of newspapers across the country. Police claimed a baby on Bradley Street was abducted by a “somambulist” — a sleepwalker.

At the bottom of the page was a short notice about baseball – or should I say, base ball, in the parlance of the time period. The Elm City Club of New Haven, in its first ever professional game, lost to the champion Boston Red Stockings 6-0. About 1000 people saw the game in Boston’s South End Grounds, bearing up on a cold windy day. So, New Haven – at least in a professional sports sense – finally goes big league.

Sound End Grounds in Boston, the site of the Elm Citys' first game

Sound End Grounds in Boston, the site of the Elm Citys’ first game

The game took place on the centennial of the the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which took place April 19, 1875. The holiday would become known as Patriots Day, and traditionally be known for the running of the Boston Marathon.

All things considered, the New Havens did well their first game. I have been reaching for an equivalent modern match up for New Haven versus Boston that day – perhaps an Arena League Football team playing the Super Bowl champs, or the 1998 Yankees playing their own A-ball team seems closest to me. No matter what description one uses it promised to be a gross mismatch.

The Register, which offers the best baseball coverage of the local newspapers, describes it thusly:  “It being considered that our boys had never played together and in their home positions before this game, the show which they made against the champion Bostons was a very creditable one,” said the New Haven Register. The Register also pointed out, in a bit of local boosterism, that Hartford the previous year had gotten pummelled by Boston 25-3 – given the local venom of which should be the capital of Connecticut, Hartford or New Haven, the papers tended to take potshots at each other whenever possible.

The New Haven Daily Palladium yawned at the New Haven effort against Boston. “The game was not a very exciting one, the visitors making several errors, but by some good playing in several instances they managed to keep the champions score down to six,” the Palladium wrote.

New Haven’s downfall came primarily in the second inning when a combination of poor fielding and bad pitching by New Haven starter Tricky Nichols allowed Boston to score four runs. The Register attributed Nichols’ problems to his being “chilled.”

412px-Andy_Leonard

Andy Leonard had three hits for Boston

Boston slugged 15 hits altogether off Nichols, with second baseman Ross Barnes leading the way with a couple of hits and runs scored. Centerfielder Andy Leonard and catcher Deacon White each had three hits. Al Spalding, the best pitcher in the country at that point, pitched a shut out and added a couple of hits.

Barnes-uniform

Ross Barnes scored a couple of runs for the Red Stockings

New Haven couldn’t do much against Boston, which played fine defense in addition to pitching well. Billy Geer, the second baseman, got three hits. The Register cited the fielding of centerfielder Jim Tipper as being exemplary. Sam Wright appeared in the game for New Haven against his two brothers, George, the shortstop, and Harry, the manager.

Billy Geer got three hits of New Haven's six hits

Billy Geer got three hits of New Haven’s six hits

Boston would travel to New Haven in another day to play them in their home opener at Hamilton Park. “It is bound to be exciting and our boys will do their best to win. They are worthy of encouragement for their gallant struggle,” the Register said.

**

Boston lineup – George Wright, ss (0 runs, 2 hits); Cal McVey, cf; Ross Barnes, 2b (2 runs, 2 hits); Al Spalding p (1 run, 2 hits – winning pitcher); Andy Leonard, lf (1 run, 2 hits); Deacon White, c (0 runs, 2 hits); Jack Manning, rf (1 run, 0 hits); Juice Latham (1 run, 1 hit); Harry Schafer, 3b (0 runs, 1 hit).

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