Friday, September 12, 2003

Hartford, Hartford, My Place of Birth 

When sports fans, think of Hartford, they may think of The Whalers, the Greater Hartford Open, or even Willie Pep.

However, despite not having a team in over half a century, Hartford, Connecticut has quite a bit of baseball history. Former Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams was born there. So was Dick McAuliffe. Jeff "Pass" Bagwell starred at UHart, as did Earl Snyder. But Hartford has a history of professional baseball, as well.

The Hartford Dark Blues joined the National Association in 1874 and later became a charter member of the National League. Their owner, Morgan Bulkely was the first president of the NL and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937 but, as that link points out, he was mainly a figurehead for William Hulbert. In a previous entry, I mentioned David Arcidiacono. One of the books that he wrote was on the Dark Blues. This article in the Hog River Journal gives a taste of the book. The Dark Blues played at theHartford Ball Club Grounds. David would like to see some sort of memorial on the parcel where this historical spot was. I agree and have started to make some inquiries to help make this a reality.

The Dark Blues left for Brooklyn in 1877, but minor league ball came to town to fill the void. P. S. Luchter lists all the teams on this page. I can't vouch for its accuracy, but it looks fairly complete.

The 1890 team played an exhibition game under the lights. It was, I believe, the first night game in history between two professional teams. I recently wrote an article about it and hope to revise it soon and see it in print.

The early part of the 20th century saw the Hartford Senators come into town. I am currently doing some research on them, digging through old microfilms. It can be frustrating work, but, ultimately, it should be rewarding.

The most recent Hartford minor league team was the Hartford Chiefs. The page I linked to isn't the best designed in the world, but it provides some info on this farm club of the Boston Braves. Perhaps the best player to play for the Chiefs was Warren Spahn.

Despite the fact that Hartford hasn't had a team in quite some time it still celebrates the game's past with a Vintage Base Ball Tournament every summer, and even has a company that sells old style equipment for vintage ball players and teams.

Well, that's a brief overview of Hartford baseball history. I hope that you enjoyed it.

I'll be heading up to Boston tommorrow for a Ted Williams Symposium. It sounds like it will be a great time.

See you soon,


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