New Haven downs Saint Louis, 7-3

A game from the 1850s in Flushing, New York that shows women in attendance. I'd like to think New Haven wasn't different in 1875.

A game from the 1850s in Flushing, New York that shows women in attendance. I’d like to think New Haven wasn’t different in 1875. (from the New York Clipper and ourgame.mlblogs.com)

One of the early concerns of 19th century base ball executives is that the game was too rough and tumble to attract female spectators. It’s true that the stands in a National Association game could be filled with drunken hooligans, brazenly betting on the game, but that doesn’t seem to be keeping women away in New Haven. Or, conversely, perhaps this is an indicator that the “cranks,” the 19th century term for a fan, were a little better behaved in New Haven.

“Notwithstanding the heat a very fair crowd assembled, fairer than usual if such a pun be permissible, for many representatives of the gentler sex were witnesses of the game,” said the Register, also noting that some male members of the crowd weren’t too happy with their presence.

No matter. Perhaps the New Havens were inspired by them, downing the Saint Louis club by a score of 7-3 on July 28, 1875 in front of another large crowd.

George Bradley, the losing Saint Louis pitcher

George Bradley, the losing Saint Louis pitcher

The game initially looked as if it was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel. Both Saint Louis’ George Bradley and New Haven’s Tricky Nichols fired four scoreless innings apiece to start the game.

St. Louis jumped on the board first in the top of the 5th inning, scoring one run on a pair of New Haven errors and a questionable call by umpire Bill Boyd of the Atlantics, his first of a few on the day.

Bill Boyd, the Atlantics outfielder whose umpiring caused trouble for New Haven

Bill Boyd, the Atlantics outfielder whose umpiring caused trouble for New Haven

New Haven matched them with a run in the bottom of the 5th on singles by Sam Wright and Johnny Ryan. Saint Louis added runs in the sixth and eighth innings. The run in the eighth wasn’t without controversy. Ned Cuthbert walked to lead off the inning, an inordinately rare occurrence in 1875, coming around to score. “Boyd, the umpire, gave Cuthbert his base on three balls, two balls being called where it should have been two strikes,” the Register reported. “His unfairness was chiefly confined to the calling of balls and strikes, but it was quite manifest to that respect after the seventh inning,” the Palladium said.

The run ultimately wouldn’t matter in the face of one of New Haven’s bigger offensive explosions of the season. As 19th century games so often do, victory often turns on defensive breakdown and the ability of the offense of capitalize.

New Haven scored two runs in the sixth inning on a pair of Saint Louis errors and a single by Henry Luff, the hitting star of the day. In the bottom of the eighth inning, New Haven batted around, scoring four times to cinch the win. Nichols led off the inning with a single. John McKelvey hit a hot flyball to centerfielder Jack Chapman (who flirted with being New Haven’s first captain in the offseason), who dropped the ball and then made an overthrow on the play, allowing both men to score. A pair of errors by second baseman Battin and third baseman Hague split up a triple by Henry Luff and an RBI single by Tim McGinley. “The New Havens fairly outdid themselves, and their batting in the eighth inning called forth loud applause,” the Register said.

Since upsetting Boston on July 2, New Haven was playing credible ball, amassing a record of three wins and four losses, after beginning the month with a 2-24 season record. The addition of players from defunct franchises around the league and the change to a new captain seems to have done a world of good. “People in this city are beginning to believe we have a base ball nine,” the Palladium said.

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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.

 

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 two more to Athletics; losing streak at 13

There are occasions where New Haven, mired in an 11-game losing streak, will play better than the score. May 19, 1875, against the Philadelphia Athletics, a solid ball club, was one of those occasions.

New Haven battered Philadelphia pitcher Dick McBride for 16 hits, their highest total this season, but couldn’t push the runners home. New Haven lost to Philadelphia 12-5. “It is with pleasure that we note the marked improvement in batting exhibited by our boys,” the Register said. “They found little trouble in hitting McBride.”

John Clapp

John Clapp

Catcher John Clapp drove in four runs for Philadelphia, and third baseman Ezra Sutton scored three times and had three hits. For New Haven, Henry Luff, Jim Tipper, and Sam Wright each had three hits.

Ezra Sutton

Ezra Sutton

Tricky Nichols employed his typical bend not break manner of pitching for the first four innings, allowing only a single clean hit and stranding the White Stockings who reached on errors. “They could not get the hang of Nichols’ pitching,” the Register said.

New Haven scored first in the bottom of the first inning. Billy Geer led off the game with a single and Henry Luff drove him in with another base hit. Philadelphia came back with two runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead.

The clubs traded runs, with Philadelphia leading 7-5 going into the ninth inning, giving New Haven a plausible chance at coming back. In the top of the ninth, Ezra Sutton got his third hit of the day. Nichols then forced two quick outs. Hits by Rocap and Richmond, an error by Rit Harrison, playing out of position at shortstop due to an injury, and two more hits by Davy Force and Clapp, led to five runs. The New Havens’ spirits were crushed, going quietly in the bottom of the ninth. “Again was New Haven defeated, by this time by a first class club, and the score for the first eight innings would have done credit to any organization,” the Register said, always looking for the silver cloud.

John Smith, the new shortstop, played in a single game for New Haven, going hitless and making three errors

John Smith, the new shortstop, played in a single game for New Haven, going hitless and making three errors

In the second game of the short series with Philadelphia, played Saturday, May 21, 1875, a series of injuries showed just how thin the New Haven roster actually was. Sam Wright, the regular shortstop, had gotten hurt several days earlier and was unable to play. John Smith, a shortstop who’d been playing with the amateur club in Bridgeport, was signed to replace him. He’d actually had National Association service, getting 6 hits in 40 at-bats for Maryland and Baltimore over two seasons.

New Haven lost a listless 15-2 laugher. “The number of spectators at the ball game yesterday was exceedingly small, when the reputation of the Philadelphia club s considered. A one-sided and uninteresting game was feared, and the result justified the expectations,” the Register said.

Nichols, who’d thrown every inning of every game thus far, broke his finger in the top of the first inning. He finished the inning but was unable to proceed. “Under these circumstances, it was evident that the Athletics would pile up the tallies,” the Register said presciently.

Indeed they did. Without an adequate replacement – most teams only had one regular pitcher – the rout was on. Third baseman Henry Luff took the box in his place, going six innings and giving up 12 hits and 11 runs. They also tried left fielder Johnny Ryan for the final two innings, in which he gave up a run on three hits and two walks, an accomplishment in and of itself when nine balls constituted a walk.

Dick McBride

Dick McBride

In the meantime, Dick McBride (who would later get fired as captain in the middle of a game late in the season) showed his good stuff for Philly, scattering seven hits and allowing two meaningless runs in the eighth inning. John Clapp had another good game, scoring four times and getting two hits. Ezra Sutton, Davy Force, and Al Reach (who would become a sporting goods magnate like his contemporary Al Spalding), each had three hits. Cap Anson, a Hall of Famer perhaps more infamously known as the man who would create baseball’s long time color barrier, scored three times and got a couple of hits.

Cap Anson

Cap Anson

Jim Tipper managed a pair of hits for New Haven, as well as making several good plays in the field, prompting profuse praise from the New Haven Register. Billy Geer also added a pair of hits, including a double, and drove in both runs.

New Haven takes on the Brooklyn Atlantics and the New York Mutuals next.

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).