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.

New Haven Tries to Find a Boss

New Haven’s foray into Major League Baseball began the way most things do.

A guy wanted to make some money.

On January 8, 1875 the New Haven Register carried a brief item that one W.S. ‘Billy’ Arnold of Middletown was taking his $3000 investment in a new ballclub and dividing it into 125 shares at $25 each. “It remains to be seen what support our citizens will give to the project,” the Register reported.

The New Haven Elm Citys, or New Havens in the newspaper parlance of the time, would be joining the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. All you needed was a nominal entry fee, and a local nine could call themselves professional.

Arnold, 24 at the time, made his professional playing debut with the 1872 Middletown Mansfields, a team that had since disbanded. He went 1-7 with two runs scored in a couple of games in the outfield and apparently decided that playing the game was not to be his forte.

Howard Avenue Grounds

Arnold had secured the use of the Howard Avenue Grounds (“a fine lot on the line of the West Haven Horse Railroad”) for games and had already begun negotiations with a possible club captain, a playing equivalent of the modern day manager, an on field tactician.

Jack Chapman, 31 years old, would have been a fine choice for the new ballclub. A quiet and courteous man with impeccable credentials and a history with the game dating back to 1860, he had played the 1874 season with the Brooklyn Atlantics, one of the most hapless franchises of the National Association era. His .246 lifetime batting average was middling even in that low scoring era but he had the honor of being one of the players dubbed with one of the best, and longest, nicknames in baseball history: “Death to Flying Things.”

Jack Chapman, the first player/manager the team chased

You would think with such an original nickname, Chapman would be the only one that would bear it. Not so. A contemporary of his, Bob Ferguson, an honest, yet pissy player, umpire and manager, got the name because of his defensive prowess. According to Wikipedia, a modern outfielder, Franklin Gutierrez of the Seattle Mariners, also has the nickname, although I’ve never read anything that refers to him in that manner.

Back to Chapman. The relationship was not to be. “We are informed that Chapman of the Atlantics was offered captaincy of the proposed new organization, but as he had already signed the papers of the Regulars of St. Louis, he was forced to decline,” the Register reported.

Chapman played the whole season for the St. Louis entry, a team that went 39-29, batting .223 over 43 games in the outfield. That performance, well below the league average of .254, would have made him one of the best players on the 1875 Elm Citys.

He finished his playing days in 1876, and moved exclusively to management, leading the Louisville Grays (1876-77), the Milwaukee Grays (1878), the Worchester Ruby Legs (1882), Detroit Wolverines (1883-84), Buffalo Bisons (1885), and the Louisville Colonels (1889-1892). He compiled a record of 351 wins and 502 losses.

The search for a field boss would continue.