The New York Yankees Visit the Fair
Well Kinda

On 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 bats.

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.

Footnotes:


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
Center Field
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
Pitcher
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" Newton
Pitcher
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.


Ira Thomas
Catcher
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.


Jimmy Williams
Second Base
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
Third base
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 Fame.


John Peter "Red" Kleinow
Catcher
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.