Craig Brown's rendering of the 1883 Trenton uniform based on a very detailed newspaper description in the Trenton Evening Times of July 20, 1883. This is the earliest uniform Craig is aware of with a breast pocket, for more of Craig's work go to http://www.threadsofourgame.com/login/
The paper demanded an infusion of new talent which wasn't long in coming, but the problems persisted and by late August, Trenton was still below .500 at 21-27, mired in sixth place (in a seven team league) well behind front running Harrisburg. Although the Pennsylvania team was in first place when they visited Trenton on August 25, they were losing ground to Brooklyn (yes, that Brooklyn club) which would ultimately win the Interstate Association pennant. There seemed little reason therefore for the practical Trenton fan to waste his hard earned dimes and quarters on the game at the Trenton cricket grounds on East State Street. One possible incentive to attend was to see the club's new pitcher, John Valentine who had come to Trenton from the Columbus major league club, his 2-10 win-loss record being all the explanation needed for his availability. It's perhaps a little surprising the club had added Valentine since they already had a competent pitcher in John Harkins, a local boy from nearby New Brunswick. Previously a college student at Rutgers, Harkins was a rarity in professional baseball and would go on to play a few years in the major leagues spending most of his time with Brooklyn.
Valentine was described as "a fine specimen of athletic manhood" who even before he pitched a game for Trenton had made an impression on a portion of the fan base since "the luster of his diamond shirt-pin flashes with bewildering effect on the occupants of the ladies' stand." Perhaps management figured that even if Valentine couldn't pitch, he might attract a few more fans to the ball park. Thus far the new pitcher had done well, winning three of his first four starts, although the one loss, in his last outing, had seen him "slugged" by the Wilmington, Delaware club. Interestingly, Jack Leary, the Harrisburg pitcher was also a relatively new member of his team, having joined the Pennsylvania team that same month. Like Valentine, Leary had been in the major leagues earlier in 1883 with Louisville and Baltimore, not only as a pitcher, but also playing multiple infield and outfield positions. While he may have indeed been literally a "jack of all trades" (sorry), he certainly wasn't a master batter, hitting below .200 with both teams. He had, however, made a good first impression in Harrisburg, described by the Harrisburg Patriot as "a tricky man," one who "apparently uses brain work." Leary also had a 3-1 record also losing his last start although in more low scoring fashion.
The game began with Harrisburg in the field and Trenton wasted no time getting on the board, scoring twice as the game started in what the Trenton Evening Times described as "hurricane fashion," a pace maintained by Harrisburg who responded with three tallies of their own. Apparently quickly losing patience with their new pitcher, "some in the crowd [were] discourteous enough to call for Harkins in the second inning." Fortunately, Trenton captain, Jake Goodman stuck with Valentine who rewarded Goodman's faith by shutting out Harrisburg for the next six innings. Leary, however, was nowhere near as effective, allowing Trenton seven more runs and the home team led 9-3 going to the bottom of the eighth inning. Any Trenton fans who had been on the fence about attending the game were clearly feeling better about their decision and according to the Patriot "some of the crowd were already dispersing in anticipation of an easy victory." There were however reasons why the Trenton club was in sixth place and even though as the Evening Times noted they had "played brilliantly at times," the eighth saw "a spell of that fumbling and monkeying which often proved disastrous." Particularly at fault was outfielder Tom Lynch who reportedly "tripped over the ball a couple of times in left field, and then lay on the ground wholly regardless of the runners flying around the bases."
Lynch is often confused with his far better known namesake who was a well known major league umpire before becoming president of the National League where he earned Charles Ebbets undying enmity. This Lynch had his own brief major league career and upon his death in 1955 was believed to be the oldest living major league player. When the dust finally cleared on the carnage reportedly brought on by Lynch's misdeeds, the game was tied at 8-8, heading to the ninth. Any cynical Trenton fan probably expected the local club to fail to score in the top of the inning paving the way for Harrisburg to win in the bottom of the half, making an already painful loss, even worse. However the game still had some surprises in store for both players and fans. Not only did both teams fail to score in the ninth, they also posted blanks for four more innings so the game was still tied after 13 innings. At that point the Evening News felt the game should have been called for darkness, but it was decided to play one more inning. Doubtless aided by fatigue on the visitors part, Trenton tallied twice in the top of the fourteenth on a combination of errors and passed balls. Needless to say "the air was rent with applause" with Trenton understandably "considering themselves victorious."
A box score with a warning label - Trenton Evening Times - August 26, 1883
Among those overwhelmed by the day's events was the Evening News reporter who warned his readers it was "only just to say the following score may contain several errors, as the reporter was not present for fourteen innings, and used all his paper, besides which other reporters were yelling like mad men and mixed things up." Interestingly, a comparison between the local box score and that of the Harrisburg Patriot as well as one that appeared in Sporting Life reflects only minor differences. Equally drained was the crowd which "went home silently," because of the tough loss, but also because it had "yelled itself hoarse" for a little under three hours (14 innings in less than three hours!). Hopefully the game taught the reporter to be better prepared and also taught the Trenton fans that no matter how bad their ball club, every day at the ballpark has the potential for an unforgettable experience.