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Coltsville Vintage Base Ball League

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Coltsville Vintage Base Ball League

The Coltsville Vintage Base Ball League was formed in 2010 to broaden the base of local participation in our weekly living history events at the Hartford Base Ball Grounds at Colt Meadows.

Each of our teams uses the rules, costumes, customs and equipment of the 1860s. Team names are taken from historic teams that played in Hartford, Connecticut.

On Saturday mornings teams play back-to-back games – the first by the rules of 1865 and the second game by the rules of 1861. Check online for the full schedule.

Find out here how you can be a part of a vintage team in the Coltsville League.
OUR TEAMS

The Alert Fire Hose Co.

The Alert Fire Hose Company Vintage Base Ball TeamIn 1864, the City of Hartford formed its municipal fire department with engine, hose and ladder companies. The Alert Fire Hose Company (Hose Company 1) had its station house at 43 Pearl Street (along with Ladder Company 1). The Alerts formed a base ball club in 1866 that played friendly games with other fire houses in Bushnell Park. However, but based on their first game against the East Hartford Continentals (which they won soundly by a final tally of 66-11 and which lasted nearly 4 hours), they were a team of heavy hitters. The team was lead by Captain John Dundon, a native of Ireland who would be the captain of the team throughout its illustrious history. Dundon's lieutenant was John V. Slattery.

The early Alerts were comprised of about 60 ballists including hurlers F. O'Donnell and E. H. Williams, catchers T. Halleran and A. Bacon, 1st basemen P. Sullivan and D. Jordan, 2nd basemen L. Seasell and F. Coggshall, 3rd basemen T. Elliott and T. A. Rockwood, shortstops E. Downs and H. P. Williams, left fielders W. Hallahan J. Belcher, right fielders J. Powers and W. H. Murphy and center fielders S. Casey and R. Jordan.

On August 11, 1866, the Alerts played the Hayden Hook and Ladder nines on the park and thoroughly doused them them by a 72-27 score behind the hurling of E. H. Williams. They tallied 22 runs in the top of the fifth inning alone. The catcher Bacon scored 10 runs and right fielder Murphy scored 11 times.

In December 1866, the Alert Club sent Dundon and Slattery to the National Base Ball Convention in New York City and to the state base ball convention in Hartford in March 1867. On May 25, 1867, the Alerts played their first practice game in Bushnell Park.They were the best amateur nines in Hartford after the Civil War.

The Alert Club held a social every winter and for the price of a dollar, one could attend their annual ball and dance to the tunes of Greavenor's & Leonard's Quadrille Band. The club disbanded after the 1871 season as the amateur game was replaced by professional base ball but for the five years of their existence, the Alert Hose Company represented the firefighters of Hartford on the ballfields of glory. To revive this team is an honor to all firefighters who have served their city and to the special relationship baseball has had with the city for almost 150 years.

Click here for a current roster of players,.



The Hartford Bluebirds (Billy Barnie’s Blue Boys)

Billy Barnie's Blue Boys Vintage Base Ball ClubOn December 19, 1895, a meeting in New York attempted to revive the Atlantic Association baseball league. Jack Gunshannon, a local ball player, came up with a plan to have a fair to raise $1,500 to start the club. Sam Crane, the New York Giants hurler is president of the association. A second group had the notion to bring in Tom York to be captain of the the team. Three groups were vying for the Hartford franchise–one by ex-Dark Blue and Baltimore manager William Barnie, one by Burrows of Pittsburgh who was to move the Trenton team to Hartford and the Tom York-backed team. The base ball fair in Germania Hall was to last the first week of February. A committee of responsible citizens was formed to ensure the fair was successful in raising money. Meigs H. Whaples, Frank C. Sumner and Charles H. Lawrence comprised the committee.

On February 16, 1896, it was announced that the new Atlantic Association would be comprised of 6 teams: Newark, Patterson, Jersey City, Wilmington, Hartford and New Haven. Barnie was given the Hartford franchise. Land for a field was found on Wethersfield Avenue. The trolley company was trying to develop their land in the southend and a parcel south of South Street on the western side of Wethersfield Avenue was leased by the Hartford base ball team.

The 1896 team consisted of Cy Bowen, 25 year old pitcher who played for the New York Giants in 1896 as well; Ed  Cassian, 28 year old pitcher who played for the Hartford Nutmegs in 1889; Dan Daub, 28 year old pitcher who spent part of the season with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms; Frank Eustice, 25 year old shortstop who spent part of the season with the Louisville Colonels; Fielder Jones, 24 year old center fielder who would go on to a major league career with the White Stockings and and a manager for the “Hitless Wonders”; Mike Lehaane, 31 year old first sacker; Joseph “Reddy” Mack, 30 year old 2nd sacker; Willie Mills, 18 year old hurler; Bob Petit, 34 year old left fielder who played ball with Anson’s Chicagos; Nick Scharf, 37 year old; George Sharrot, 26 year old hurler; John Thornton, 27 year old pitcher and “Vinegar” Tom Vickery, 29 year old pitcher.

Three teams were in the pennant chase that year, Hartford, Newark and Patterson, New Jersey. Newark took the pennant and Hartford came in second, two games out of first place with a 73-54 record. The Blue Boys were the best team Hartford had since the 1876 Dark Blues came in second in  the inaugural season of Major League Baseball. Our city once again felt the pride that having a winning league base ball club can give it.

Billy Barnie returned with his Blue Boys in 1897 and they finished in third place even though they had a better record than they did in ‘96. In 1898 Barnie called his Atlantic League team the Cooperatives. In 1899, the team joined the Eastern League as the Indians. Barnie designed a public base ball field in Pope Park and supported Haartford’s base ball efforts for the rest of his life. He died here on July 15, 1900 from pneunomia.

The mighty Hartford Blue Boys will always hold a place in the hearts of Hartford baseball fans for as long as the game is played here.

Click here for a current roster of players,.


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The Charter Oak Nine

The Charter Oak of Hartford Vintage Base Ball ClubThe New York game of base ball came to Hartford in the summer of 1862. The team was actually formed on June 13, 1862 in Bushnell Park west at 6:30 p.m. when interested men came together to play the New York rules game. On June 30, 1862, the team was formerly organized and called the “Charter Oak Base Ball Club” Officers were elected and were; Gershom B. Hubbell, President; James B. Burbank, Vice President; Charles AA. Jewell, Secretary and Treasurer; Thomas Hollister, G. F. Hills, E. H. Lane, Directors. The club limited its membership to 40 The mission of the Charter Oak nine was to “establish on a scientific basis the health-giving and scientific game of base ball, and to promote good fellowship among its players.” The regular playing days in the park were Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The club was inspired by its president, Gershom B. Hubbell, a native Bridgeport boy who was employed as a telegrapher at the American Telegraph office on Main Street. Mr. James Burbank, Vice-President was a clerk, Charles Jewell, aged 21 was a clerk at his father’s hide and leather business, Pliny Jewell & Sons; Enos A. Lane, a 20 year old clerk at George S. Lincoln Company, iron founders of Hartford; George F. Hills, aged 25, a teller at the State Bank; and Thomas A. Hollister, aged 30, who was just returned from New York as an apprentice bookbinder. All of these founders, except Burbank, lived out their lives in Hartford.

On July 17, 1862 the first nine were temporarily appointed. They were Messrs. Branch, the Bunce twins– Frederick and Henry Lee, Henry Yergason, Dickinson, and Burbank, Hills, Hollister and Gershon Hubbell. By 1867, Hubbell and the Bunce twins played in every game the Oaks ever played. Subsequent years brought in new first nine appointments including Trinity College student and hurler Si Blackwell and Ed Jewell.

By the end of 1862 and throughout 1863, the team petered out due to the war and picked up only slightly in 1864. On August 18 the Oaks defeated the Collinsville club 28-7. November 3rd saw the Oaks defeat Yale 44-32. A return game that year was cancelled due to the weather and made the Courant comment “guess they won’t go unless the game is played with snowballs.”

By the end of the war in 1865, the game picked up popularity as soldiers returned home. The Oaks won most of their games that year Spectators were gathering to watch their games along the banks of the river in the park. On July 31, 1865, the oaks played Harvard in Worcester. Harvard throughly defeated the Oaks 35-13. Even though they lost, the Oaks were presented a miniature silver bat presented by J. G. Belden in a rosewood case. An attached note exclaimed that the bat was made from the original charter oak wood and was to represent the championship of the State of Connecticut. The club was to keep the bat unless they lost a challenge from another Connecticut team.

The Oaks had a first nine, a second nine and a “muffin team,” as was the custom in the era for base ball clubs. Many friendly games were held in Bushnell Park by this historic team including the Atlantics of Brooklyn, The Unions of Morrisania (the Bronx), the Philadelphia Athletics, The Eons of Portland (ME), the Lowells (MA), Harvard, Yale and Trinity. The Pequots of New London finally defeated the Oaks after three years to take the Championship of the State of Connecticut. After 1870, the Oaks were all but gone but they put Hartford on the map with as an extraordinary base ball team..



The Hartford Nutmegs

The Nutmeg Vintage Base Ball ClubThe Hartford Nutmegs were part of the Atlantic Association in 1889 & 1890 and later, becoming the Atlantic League. Along with Easton, Jersey City, Lowell, New Haven, Newark, Norwalk, Wilkes-Barre and Worcester this short lived league would be Hartford baseball’s home until the Eastern League made a comeback in 1899.

The Hartford team was formed to fill in two open league spots. A league committee was sent to Hartford to discuss our inclusion and to check into our financial backing. The Courant, on February 12, 1889, said,  “Now is the chance for the local admirers of the national game to show what they are made of. Put you hands deep into your pockets, gentlemen, and give the representatives of the Atlantic association solid assurances that you mean business.”

On February 12, a meeting was held in room 14 of the United States Hotel with Hartford base ball backers and the Atlantic League committee. The league wanted a $500 deposit before March 1 to reserve a team. Mr. Trehearne of the Hartford Times pledged $100 for the Times and stock shares costing $50 were to be sold to raise the capital. A local committee was formed to sell shares and included Charles F. Daniels, Norwich’s own famous umpire, P. J. Dutton, John M. Henry– the team’s player/manager,  Willam H. Roberts and Stephen J. Brady. They were admitted to the league on March 1. Games would be played at the Ward Street Grounds at Ward and Broad Streets.

On that team in 1889 were Bill Annis,  32 year old right fielder who had a cup of coffee with the Boston Beaneaters in 1884; Ed Cassian, 21 year old New Britain hurler who went on to play with the Phillies in 1891; Gene Derby, 29 year old catcher from Fitchburg; Tom Forster, shortstop who started his career with Washington in 1881; Joe Gerhardt, 34  year old second sacker who played with the New York Giants 1885-87, the Cincinatti Reds 1878-79 and the Detroit Wolverines in 1881; in  Tom Gunning, 27 year old  catcher with experience with Boston 1884-87 and Philadelphia 1887; Jim Handiboe, a 22 year old hurler who would play for minor league teams in the Mid-west and Canada;  Ed Kennedy, a 33 year old left fielder who played for the original New York Mets and lost the first World Series to Providence in 1884; Henry Lynch, a 23 year old center fielder who would play four games for Anson’s 1893 Chicago Colts; Tom Lynch,  a 29 year old first baseman with major league experience with Philadelphia in 1884; Fred Mann,  31 year old  right fielder with American Association experience; George Moolic,a 22 year old catcher who came up with Anson’s White Stockings and had the distinction of hitting three home runs in three consecutive innings while playing with the New England League Boston Blues in 1887;  Willie Murphy, a 25 year old lefty outfielder from Springfield who played with the Cleveland Blues in 1884; Tom O’Rourke, a 23 year old catcher from New York;  Jimmy Say, 23 year old 3rd baseman; John “Phenomenal” Smith, the 24 year old well traveled hurler with the Philadelphia Athletics and George Winkleman, who had 1 major league hit in one game with Washington in 1887.

Hartford, 48-43, finished in a disappointing third place behind first place Worcester and second place Newark. While talk of a team in the new New England league were taking place over the winter, Hartford again was in the Atlantic league in 1890. While the  new Brotherhood League was challenging the National League for control of organized base ball in 1890, Hartford joined the Baltimore Orioles, the Harrisburg Ponies, the Jersey City Jerseys, Lebanon, New Haven, Newark, Washington Senators, Washington Blue Hens and Worcester Grays in the Atlantic Association.

With many new faces and some returning players, the face of the 1890 Nutmegs would be a 22 year old catcher, George Stallings, who would go on to manage the 1914 Boston Braves to a World Series championship over Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Before he died, legend has it that when asked by his physician why he had a bad heart, Stallings replied, "Bases on balls, doc ... those damned bases on balls.“

Hartford folded the Nutmeg team in August due to financial troubles with the team and the league after being the tail-enders with a 21-58 record. While the 1890 Nutmegs didn’t play like they had the previous year, the team kept base ball alive in Hartford until Billy Barnie, ex-Dark Blue ball player, returned in 1895 to renew interest in the national game here. Another Nutmeg highlight that year was a game played against Baltimore on July 23– a night game–with electric lights illuminating the Ward Street Grounds. While not the first recorded night game, it gave the world a glimpse of how base ball would be played in the future.

Click here for a current roster of players,.

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