The Eastern New England League saw the light in 1885. It was one of the many non-signatory leagues, meaning that the league did not sign the National Agreement of 1883, making it an independent league or outlawed league.
Because in the very same year the Southern New England League was founded, the league could not adopt the name New England League, something it would do after the 1885 season as the Southern New England League folded.
The intentino was that the league would start with six participants, but even before the season got under way, the Gloucester folded. The league started with five teams.
Biddeford, ME: Biddeford
Brockton, MA: Brockton
Haverhill, MA: Haverhill
Lawrence, MA: Lawrence
Newburyport, MA: Newburyport Clamdiggers
Portland, ME: Portland
The Lawerence MA franchise, that played most of its games in nearby Manchester NH, ended with a 48-31 record in a tie with Brockton, so a three game championship series was needed which was won by Lawerence.
As written above, after the Southern New England League folded after the 1885 season, the Eastern New England League dropped the word Eastern and moved on as New England League. Teams from Portland, Brockton, Haverhill, Lynn, Lawerence and Boston played in the league’s first season.
Several Major League players played in the Eastern New England League. Dick Conway, officially named Richard Butler Conway, was a pitcher who helped the Lawerence team clinch the pennant. Conway won 23 games and fanned 274 hitters. He debuted in the Majors on July 22nd of the next year with the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched his final MLB game on October 8, 1888, with the Boston Beaneaters. While pitching with the Orioles he formed a battery with his brother Bill.
Con Murphy, who pitched for the Haverhill team, had the best winning percentage of that year with a 13-2 record (.867). Murphy had a cup of tea with the Philadelphia Quakers, a short lived National League team, for which he started three games and lost all of them with a total ERA of 6.58. In 1890 Murphy would pitch twenty games for a non specified Players League team. In the twenty starts he posted a 4-10 record with 4.79 ERA.
A player with a rather short baseball career was Walter Farr Prince. He played ball for six sesaon of which a total of 50 games in the Majors. After the 1884 season he only played in the minors. In 1885 he was tied for most RBI in the Eastern New England League with 61.
Another player that played for the Boston Beaneaters was Tommy McCarthy. In 1885 he struggled at the plate with a average of .182. After several warnings from the Beaneaters’ manager, McCarthy wasn’t able to improve his batting skills and he was released. Forced to accept a job in the minor leagues, he ended up with the Haverhill team in September. At once the team climbed in the standings and finished third, trailing Lawerence and Brockton by four games after the final day of the regular season. Despite being released by the Beaneaters, McCarthy ended up in the Hall of Fame. McCarthy and his team mate Hugh Duffy formed the famed duo “The heavenly Twins” as described in the book by Richard Johnson.