- Posted May 29, 2013 by
The Flowering of a Base Ball Field
The 1870s was a decade when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and the sport of base ball (yes, it was two words back then) was being played in earnest by everyone from young lads and men’s social clubs to women’s college teams. In fact, base ball fever had hit the country in a way nothing had before.
In 1874, a group of prominent businessmen in Hartford, CT came together and determined that Hartford was ripe for hosting a professional base ball team. All that was needed was suitable grounds. After considering options, land owned by Elizabeth Colt, widow of famed manufacturer Sam Colt, was selected as the most desirable and a 500-seat stadium was built adjacent to the Church of the Good Shepherd on Wyllys Street. The Hartford Base Ball Club was founded and the season got underway. Within two years, Morgan Bulkeley—future mayor of Hartford, governor of Connecticut and U.S. senator— was named the club’s president. On February 2, 1876, the Hartford club (often called the “Dark Blues” due to the color of their uniform) was one of eight charter teams in the newly-established National League. By this time, the base ball grounds had grown to seat 2,000 with many more ringing the outfield or sitting in the branches of apples trees nearby. It was here that The Hartfords faced rival teams from around the country; and that Mark Twain—who was a regular at the ball park— famously had his silk umbrella stolen by a youth and subsequently ran an ad in the Hartford Courant offering (tongue-in-cheek) a reward for the youth’s hide.
This is Connecticut’s only major league baseball field. The land where it was sited remains intact. On Saturday, June 8, 2013, the Friends of Vintage Base Ball will celebrate Hartford’s base ball history and the woman who helped to make it possible. At the site of the original diamond, a base ball garden with floral plantings at 1st, 2nd, 3rd and home bases, and the pitcher’s box will be dedicated at noon. Earlier in the day, noted Colt historian William Hosley will do a presentation on Elizabeth Colt, and base ball historian “Pops” O’Maxfield will talk about Morgan Bulkeley’s nines. The garden dedication will be followed by a Town Ball Game for Youth, and time to enjoy hot dogs and vintage soda pop as Mark Twain, uniformed ballists and other 19th century costumed personalities make themselves available for interaction and photos. The Governor’s Foot Guard Band will provide a concert and tours of the Church of the Good Shepherd and Caldwell Colt Memorial Parish House are planned.
What: Elizabeth Colt and Coltsville’s Contribution to America’s Pastime
When: Saturday, June 8, 2013 9:30am - 2:00pm
Where: Church of the Good Shepherd, 155 Wyllys Street, Hartford, CT.
For more information: http://www.friendsofvintagebaseball.org/event_20130608.html