Minor League Baseball

Norwich Reds, a team that was up for grabs

I bumped into an interesting short article about the Norwich Reds. The team played in the Connecticut League from 1901 through 1907. The league was also known as the Connecticut State League and lasted until 1913 as it renamed itself the Eastern Association when many teams from outside the state of Connecticut joined the league. The league started as a class D league but was awarded the class B grade in 1905.

Anyhow, the Norwich Reds were one of the charter members of the Connecticut League. The team won the Connecticut State League championship in 1900 as the Norwich Witches. In the 1901 season, renamed itself and the Witches would call themselves Norwhich Champs. After the Champs finished in third place in the 1901 season, the team would call itself Reds in 1902.

During that 1902 season, a player that had a cup of tea in the Majors with the New York Giants, joined the ranks of the Reds. Royal Elliott Clark or Roy Clark for short was an successful outfielder for Brown University. His fame made the Giants sign him after he graduated in 1902. But with the Giants he was far from successful. He struck out in his first at bat with the team and that was characteristic for his career with the Giants. In eighty at bats he collected only twelve hits and a .150 batting average. Later that sesaon the Giants sold his contract to the Norwich Reds. In the class D league, Clark fared a lot better as he hit .353.

In 1904 there was no team in Norwich until the Worcester Indians moved to the town on June 21. The Indians would finish in seventh place (out of eight teams).

Another player that played in the Bigs and also played for the Norwich Reds was Hugh Frederick Bradley. In his case his career went the other way. After playing in the minors he made the Red Sox roster in 1910.
In 1905, Bradley was one of the five outfielders that tried out for a roster spot at the Reds team. He made the roster but apparently he did not play much as he left after a few weeks to seek a tryout at another ball club. He returned later that season but he had to quit because he injured his hand.
With the Red Sox he will be remembered as the player who hit the first home run in Fenway Park.

In 1905 the team would do even worse as they finished dead last, trailing seventh place New Haven by four games.

Reds announcementBut… in the next season the club would finish on top of the standings, with a 2.5 game lead over the Springfield Ponies. But despite the championship, 1906 was a bad year. The team suffered from wet weather all season and as a result of that not many fans showed up. On July 11, the stockholders held a meeting in an attempt to raise money to pay the debts of the club. But apparently they did not succeed as they handed over the club to the Connecticut League.

As a result of the underwhelming revenue, the team fell behind on the Reds news
mortgage of their stadium and had a $1,500 debt in player salaries. After the  stockholders handed over the club to the league it was sold at a public auction at December 4. Local banker Dennis Morrissey won the auction with a $25 bid. Twenty-five bucks… What can you buy for that amount nowadays? The amount would be $629 in today’s money.

Eventually the Reds continued to play one more season in the Connecticut League before their name disappeared out of the history books.

The Norwich Reds of 1907. 
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