Monday, August 21, 2017

Road Trips 2017: Hartford Yard Goats

Established: 2016
(AA) Colorado Rockies Affiliate

August 13, 2017

Minor league fans, history buffs, and road trippers alike, I promise you visiting Hartford, Connecticut, is time well spent.  Aside from exploring Wilmington for the first time, I had been spending this summer revisiting familiar MLB towns like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  I was therefore looking forward to seeing Double-A baseball in a new town, and searching out Hartford's other points of historical baseball significance.

Church of the Good Shepard's Caldwell Colt Memorial

Former site of the Hartford Dark Blues Base Ball Club Grounds

The Dark Blues were a member club of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players during the years 1874 and 1875.  In 1876, they became a charter member club of the National League.  In 1877, the club relocated to Union Grounds in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where they adapted the team name to the Brooklyn Hartfords.  The team folded at season's end.

As a life-long baseball fan particularly fascinated by its early history, I applaud those collectively and personally responsible, along with the city of Hartford, for setting these markers in place.

Morgan G. Bulkeley Stadium

Home Field
Hartford Senators 1921-1932 (Class-A) Eastern League
Hartford Senators 1934 (Class-B) Northeastern League
Hartford Laurels/Bees/Chiefs 1938-1952 (Class-A) Eastern League

The Hartford Senators were established in 1878.  In 1921, team owner Jim Clarkin opened the gates to brand new Clarkin Field.  Upon his retirement from baseball after the 1927 season, the park was renamed to commemorate the former owner of the Hartford Dark Blues, the first President of the National League, and former Governor of Connecticut, Morgan G. Bulkeley.  

Before becoming a permanent fixture at first base and Captain of the New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig played 205 minor league games for the Hartford Senators.  During their 1923 Eastern League championship season, the Iron Horse batted .304, and slugged .749, with 13 doubles, 8 triples, 8 home runs, and 24 RBI, in 59 games.

Photo Featured at Dunkin Donuts Park

  • In 2001, MiLB commissioned a list to determine the all-time best 100 minor league teams in which the 1931 Hartford Senators ranked 26th.
  • In 1932, the Senators were an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • The Hartford (Laurels/Bees) Chiefs were established in 1938, and spent 15 years through 1952 as an affiliate of the Boston Braves.
  • In Sept. 1945, Babe Ruth played his last ever game at the age of fifty, for charity, appearing as a pinch hitter for the Savitt Gems at Bulkeley Stadium.
  • Hartford Blues of the National Football League played at Bulkeley Stadium in 1926.
  • Bulkeley Stadium was demolished in 1955.

The site where Bulkeley Stadium once stood is now a nursing home, which keeps the memories and spirit of Bulkeley Stadium alive and well.  Within the main lobby is a wall adorned with framed images chronicling Hartford's proud baseball past.  The centerpiece of their collection is clearly the photo of Babe Ruth's appearance at Bulkeley Stadium.

The Babe

Inaugural Season

The Yard Goats Played Their First Season on the Road

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Road Trips 2017: Wilmington Blue Rocks


Sunday morning, breakfast - I suggested we go somewhere new instead of staying in Baltimore for another game.  The wife knew right then check-out was imminent.  It just so happened the Wilmington Blue Rocks were playing an early game.  But there was no fooling her.  She knew I planned it the whole time.  A perfect pit stop on the way home, I thought.  The wife ... let's just say Timothy's restaurant on the river walk made her day.

Daniel Frawley Stadium

Kansas City Royals (Class-A) Affiliate

The Wilmington Blue Rocks originally existed as a Class-B affiliate:
1940 - 1943  Philadelphia Athletics
1944 - 1952  Philadelphia Phillies

Judy Johnson
Enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame

"Considered the finest third baseman of his days in the Negro Leagues ..."
Judy Johnson is also commemorated at Pittsburgh's PNC Park 
for his service with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays.

aka Judy Johnson Field

Baseball styled sign atop scoreboard acknowledging 
Judy Johnson Field