New York Yankees Visit the Fair
March 12, 1903, the New York Highlanders were given
the go-ahead by team owners to join baseball's American
League. The Highlanders had recently moved from Baltimore,
where they were called the Orioles and had a winning
tradition dating back to the 1890s. Called the "Yankees"
by fans, the team officially changed its name to the
New York Yankees in 1913,
At the 1907 Harwinton Fair, a select number of these
Highlanders visited to enjoy the day. The day before
they had beaten the Philadelphia Athletics and some
made the trip to our area attending the fair while here.
They were in the area to play a combined team from Torrington
and Winsted in Torrington the next day as the start
of an off-season barn-storming tour.
Danny Hoffman, a very well known center fielder for
the Highlanders was born in Canton but living in Torrington
when not playing baseball, had engineered the event.
Hoffman, Kid Elberfeld, Slow-Joe Doyle, Neal Ball, Red
Kleinow, Jimmy Williams, Bill Hogg, Ira Thomas and some
substitutes were put up in the Hotel Garda the night
before the fair and attended a performance at Polls
where a special box was reserved just for them.
The Hartford Courant reported
that there was a “funning bee” that night
at the hotel when one of the players talked about entertaining
Ed Walsh of the White Sox at his home in Meriden the
day before. Kid Elberheld recalled the games here in
the Atlantic League when he played for Richmond. He
said that was the best league he had ever seen outside
of the American and National Leagues. Alphonso Thomas
was on hand to greet his big brother Ira. They went
to their old home in Collinsville where Ira hopes to
have Deck Henry turn out some bats for him. Seems whenever
Deck gets a hold of a good piece of lumber that he thinks
will make a good club, he makes a bat for Ira. Decks
fame has spread pretty much over the country and there
are many 300 hitters in both the big leagues using Decks
They all left the next morning
for Harwinton where Danny Hoffman promised to show them
all the sights of the big cattle show and the country
fair. He stressed that they would see the long-whiskered
natives and the countless yokes of oxen that are to
be seen only on fair day. No admission was charged to
go to the fair in those days. Even the manager of the
Coe Brass team, tomorrow’s opponents for the traveling
Highlanders, attended the fair arriving in a touring
car with some friends. There were several tire punctures
along the way but they did see much of the fair in spite
of a late arrival.
It had been twelve years since a “major league
team” had visited Torrington. This was exciting
in itself as Doyle umpired that game against the team
from Boston. (Boston Americans would later become the
Boston Red Sox) He said later that he had little experience
and all his decisions were close ones. When he made
one against his home team, he feared he would be mobbed.
After the Harwinton Fair the team went to Torrington
to the Farnham House where Hoffman gave a banquet to
his fellow players.
Ira Thomas would recall the great Ty Cobb and said that
he would fly into a bag feet first but did not try any
fancy spiking against the New York Highlanders.
Unfortunately, no report of the game itself has been
found at this time.
The team's ballpark, Hilltop Park
(formally known as "American League Park"),
was constructed in northern Manhattan at one of the
island's highest points between 165th and 168th Streets,
just a few blocks away from the much larger Polo Grounds.
The team came to be known as the New York Highlanders
for two reasons: it was a reference to the team's elevated
location and to the noted British military unit The
Gordon Highlanders, which coincided with the team's
president, Joseph Gordon. New York Press Sports Editor
Jim Price coined the unofficial nickname Yankees (or
"Yanks") for the club as early as 1904, because
it was easier to fit in headlines
Danny Hoffman (born March 2, 1880 in Canton, Connecticut
- March 22, 1922), was a professional baseball player
who played outfield in the Major Leagues from 1903 to
1911. During his career Hoffman played for the Philadelphia
Athletics, New York Highlanders, and St. Louis Browns.
Judd "Slow Joe" Doyle
Judd “Slow-Joe” Doyle
got his nickname Slow Joe because he was a very slow
working pitcher - he would take a lot of time between
pitches, often stalling for notable amounts of time.
Eustace James "Doc"
On October 4, 1904, the New York Highlanders selected
Newton in the Rule 5 draft, and he pitched well, just
not well enough to win games on a regular basis, his
ERAs were low during his time in New York, 2.96, but
his win-loss records didn't match it, 20-25. His manager
in New York, Clark Griffith, claimed that Newton's failure
to stay in condition cost the Highlanders the 1906 pennant;
Newton had been suspended mid-season for dissipation.
Thomas was born in Ballston Spa, New York, and began
his playing career in the minor league Connecticut League
in 1902. After playing two seasons with the Highlanders
in the major leagues, Thomas moved to the Tigers in
1908 and served as backup catcher to Boss Schmidt.
This power-hitter set several records during his rookie
season and led a major league in triples three times.
He stood at 5' 9" and weighed 175 lbs.
Norman "Kid" Eberheld
Norman “Kid” Elberfeld was given the nickname
"The Tabasco Kid" because of his fiery temper.
Elberfeld was known for his ferocious verbal, and sometimes
physical, assaults on umpires. On one occasion, while
in the minors, Elberfeld threw a lump of mud into the
umpire's open mouth. Later in his career, Elberfeld
assaulted umpire Silk O'Loughlin and had to be forcibly
removed by police; Elberfeld was suspended for just
8 games. Although records were not kept, it was said
that Elberfeld was thrown out of more games than any
other player of his era.
Cornelius "Neal" Ball
Cornelius "Neal" Ball, achieved fame on July
19, 1909 when he pulled off the first unassisted triple
play in Major League baseball history in a game against
the Boston Red Sox. "During the same game, he set
another major league record for shortstops. His glove
from that game is on exhibit at the Baseball Hall of
John Peter "Red" Kleinow
In an eight-season career, Kleinow was a .213 hitter
(354-for-1665) with three home runs and 135 RBI in 584
games, including 146 runs, 45 doubles, 20 triples and
42 stolen bases.