The Journey from Troy to San Francisco
It’s been over a month and a half since the Tri-City ValleyCats captured their first New York-Penn League Championship, and today the city of San Francisco will celebrate their 2010 World Series Champion Giants in a victory parade in the heart of downtown San Francisco.
The parade route will follow the
same path it took 52 years ago when the Giants were welcomed to their
new home from New York in 1958, a franchise that got it’s roots from the same city that the ‘Cats call home.
(Below is an excerpt from the 2003 Tri-City ValleyCats program article on “A History of Baseball in the Capital Region.”)
Although the argument of whether Abner Doubleday or Alexander
Cartwright invented the game of baseball will probably never be settled,
one thing remains certain: baseball was invented in New York, and the
Capital Region has left a firm imprint on the history of professional
Long before the Tri-City ValleyCats roared into
Joseph L. Bruno stadium, baseball’s future stars had been entertaining
Capital Region fans for generations.
While many of the
teams are now just distant memories, the one Capital Region team that
will never be forgotten is the Troy Haymakers. Although professional
baseball was being played throughout the city of Troy in the late
1800′s, the Haymakers are the only team to have played on the major
The Haymakers were the first team to have a Latin American player, Esteban Bellan,
“The Cuban Syph.” Originally called the Unions of Lansingburgh, the
Haymakers first played in the National Association of Baseball Players
league. Games were played at Rensselaer Park for five seasons, and the
Haymakers won about 90% of their games. The Unions overwhelmed local
teams, often scoring in excess of 100 runs in a game. In August of 1886,
the Unions decided to make their first trip to play the top teams of
New York City.
Their first match-up against the powerful
Brooklyn Atlantics proved to be a learning experience, as they were
vanquished 46-11. The Unions didn’t let the crushing defeat deter them,
however, and came back to shock the best team in baseball at the time,
the New York Mutuals, with a thrilling 15-13 victory. The win sent
shockwaves through the baseball world and also served as the origin of
the Haymakers famous nickname. A Mutual player expressed his disbelief
in losing to a team of “Haymakers.” The nickname stuck and Haymakers
would forever be associated with baseball in troy.
the Haymakers were granted membership to the National League of
Professional Baseball Clubs (present day National League) and changed
their name to the Troy Trojans. Troy was a thriving industrial city at
the time with a population of nearly 85,000. The club averaged a
respectable 2,000 fans a game for their four years despite relatively
high ticket prices- 50 cents a game, $20 for season tickets. But high
prices and losing records don’t mix. Troy found that out in 1881, when
exactly 12 fans turned out to watch the Trojans and Chicago in the 1881
season finale. The record still stands as a major league low.
The Trojans played in the major leagues for four seasons and compiled a
total record of 134-191. In 1882 the Trojans were contracted from the
league for economic reasons, but were granted honorary membership to the
National League as a form of compensation, which still applies to this
When the Trojans disbanded, a New York tobacco tycoon,
John Day, bought the rights to the Trojans and sent many of the players
to two of his teams, the New York Metropolitans of the American
Association (present day American League), and the New York Gothams
(Giants) of the National League.
Five of the players sent to play with
the Metropolitans and the Gothams went on to the Hall of Fame. (Click their name to view full stats on MLB.com)
Born: October 27, 1859, Hogland, Ohio
Elected into the Hall of Fame: 1939
Former Troy Trojan, Buck Ewing, was the first catcher
ever elected to the Hall of Fame. Ewing hit over .300 in 10
of his 15 full major league seasons, compiling a .303 career
batting average. He captained the New York Giants to the
club’s first championship in 1888 and 1889.
Born: May 8, 1858, Sylvan Lake, NY
Elected into the Hall of Fame: 1945
Dan Brouthers, former Troy Trojan, won more major league
batting titles (five) than any other 19th century ballplayer. His
career spanned four decades and ended with a lifetime batting
average of .342, which is tops among big-league first base-men
and is a three way tie for the seventh-best in history.
Born: July 4, 1859, Brooklyn, NY
Elected into the Hall of Fame: 1973
Mickey Welch, a crafty right-hander, pitched for Troy and
New York in the National League during the 19th century.
On August 28, 1884, Welch struck out the first nine batters
he faced, a record that has remained untouched. The next
season, Welch won 17 straight games and ended the season
with a 44-11 record.
Born: January 1, 1857, Cambridge, MA
Elected into the Hall of Fame: 1964
A superior submarine pitcher, Tim Keefe won 342 games in
just 14 big league seasons. He ran off a record 19 straight
victories during the 1888 season and twice won over 40 games. Keefe spent three seasons pitching for the Troy
Trojans of the National League, 1880-1882. After his playing
career, Keefe served three years as a National League umpire,
Born: July 1, 1857, Waterbury, CT
Elected into the Hall of Fame: 1976
Roger Connor was the 19th century’s home run king with 138
career homers. The slugging first baseman surpassed the .300
mark in 12 different seasons. Connor started his 18-season career with the Troy Trojans in 1880 where he hit .332 in 83 games.
Newspaper clipping of Buck Ewing:
This “honorary membership” to the
National League as a form of compensation, has been
rumored to include an agreement that several exhibition games would be played in Troy each season and that Troy would be allowed to apply for another
franchise. Neither of these have happened. A search is on to see if there is some sort of official document that exists, which states either of these agreements.
An interesting article appears in the local Troy Record newspaper this morning, further explaining the situation.
So as you watch the San Francisco Giants parade down Market Street, keep in mind that the organization stemmed from a team in Troy, NY. Current home of the 2010 New York-Penn League Champion Tri-City ValleyCats.