New York Gothams

From BR Bullpen

New York Gothams I:

  • Ballparks: Red House Grounds, Elysian Fields, St. George Cricket Grounds

New York Gothams II:

The Gothams were one of two New York baseball teams to use the Gotham moniker. The first Gotham team dates back to around 1850, and was originally known for about one season as the Washington Club. The team changed its name to The Gotham Club in 1852. Early on the club’s biggest rival was that of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, but by 1855 both clubs were joined by other New York Base Ball Clubs. When the first convention of Base Ball Clubs was held at Smith’s Hotel in Manhattan on January 22, 1857, the Gotham Club sent the following representatives: William H. Van Cott, Reuben H. Cudlipp and a George F. Franklin. The Gothams were one of sixteen teams that became the founding members of the National Association of Base Ball Players. During the team’s years with the NABBP, they would play an average of 9 games a year. Fans of the Gothams would find their team at either Red House Grounds in Harlem, the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey or even the St. George Cricket Grounds on Staten Island. The Gothams would field teams until the end of the 1869 season.

The second Gothams team was the city of New York’s second National League entry. After a six year absence without any clubs from New York in the National League, the Gothams joined on December 6, 1882 replacing the ousted Troy Trojans. The Gothams were made up of mostly players from the Trojans that team owner John Day had acquired, but other than that, the team had no real formal ties to the Trojans. Managed by catcher John Clapp, the team opened its inaugural season at the Polo Grounds (I) against the mighty Boston Beaneaters. Not only would the Gothams win their first game of the season against the Beaneaters, they would also go and sweep the 3 game series. It was also the last time the Gothams would be in 1st place. The Gothams would go on to an 8 game losing streak, and would lose 12 of the next 13 games. The Gothams would finish the season with a 46-50-2 record for a 6th place finish.

Overall the Gothams were not a terrible team. The team was 28-19-2 at home; their two best months were June and August when they won 12 games. In the 1st half of the season, the team was only 4 games below .500 and went .500 in the 2nd. Against the pennant winning Beaneaters, the team went 7-7 even though they were outscored 82-106. Their best record was against their fellow expansion team, the Philadelphia Phillies against whom they went 12-2. The team was also 9-10 in 1 run games and 16-18 in blowouts. Team stats: 1st baseman Roger Connor led the team with a .357 batting average, which catcher Buck Ewing led the team with 10 homers. Picher Mickey Welch led all pitchers with a 25-13 record, and had the 2nd lowest ERA (2.73) behind John Ward who had a 2.70.

However when the 1884 season opened, Clapp was not with the team, but was replaced by Jim Price, who was making his managerial debut. With the team relatively intact, the Gothams would again open the season at the Polo Grounds (I), this time sweeping the Chicago White Stockings, in a 2 game series. Unlike last season in which the Gothams would go on an 8-game losing streak, the Gothams would win 12 straight games before losing to the Bisons 4-1, but would manage to stay in 1st place. However, a two game loss to the Providence Grays would drop the team down to 3rd where they would remain until early August when they dropped down to 4th. Following a 6-1 loss to the Cleveland Forest Citys, found Price replaced as manager by pitcher John Ward, who managed the team’s final 16 games. The Gothams would finish the season with their first winning record going 62-50-4 for a 4th place finish.

The Gothams would have a 2nd straight winning season at home, but were a .500 club on the road. While the Gothams started the season strong going 17-8 in the month of May, the team got progressively worst as the season wore on winning fewer and fewer games each month, and while the team was 13 games over .500 in the first half of the season, they were 1 game below .500 in the second. Against the pennant winning Providence Grays the team was 3-13-1. They were 8-8-1 against the Beaneaters and 4-12 against the White Stockings. Against fellow expansion team, the Gothams went 11-5 against the Phillies. Moving over from 1st base, 2nd baseman Roger Connor continued to lead the team with a .317 batting average and with 4 home runs. Welch led all pitchers with a 39-21 record and a 2.50 ERA.

According to tradition, the Gothams would continue to use the Gotham name until June 3, 1885 after 11 inning game in which the Gothams won 8-7 over the Phillies, in which manager Jim Mutrie makes the statement 'My big fellows! My Giants! We are the People!' From that point forward, the team was known as the New York Giants. However, according to Brian Cronin in an article from the LA Times in 2012, the Giants nickname had already been in use before the win over the Phillies. Cronin points out that the Giants nickname had been in use as early as April 14th according to a headline by the New York World. He goes on to write that by June and July other newspapers such as the Sporting Life, New York Times, Boston Globe and the Washington Post, began using the Giants nickname and that Mutrie just popularized the Giants’ nickname, and that the name Giants was only used once prior to the 1885 season, and that came in 1883 in a Gothams’ game in Chicago, in which the newspaper referred to the team as the Giants, but that may have been sarcastic.

Sources:

  • Gotham Base Ball Club
  • LA Times
  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)
  • John Thorn: Total Baseball, Total Sports Publishing, 1989, 1995