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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.