Hartford Dark Blues

From BR Bullpen

Win-Loss Record: 148-113-3 (.567)

Ballpark: Hartford Ball Club Grounds (May 1, 1874-September 30, 1876); Adelaide Avenue Grounds, Providence, RI; Union Grounds, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (April 30-October 21, 1877)

The Hartford Dark Blues were one of two teams to join the National Association in 1874, the other being the re-formed Chicago White Stockings. The team played its home games at the Hartford Ball Club Grounds. Under the guidance of noted journeyman Lip Pike, the Dark Blues finished in 7th place with a 16-37 record in 1874. The next year, in 1875, Pike was replaced by longtime Brooklyn Atlantics captain, Bob Ferguson, who would remain with the team throughout the rest of its existence.

When the National League was formed in 1876, Hartford was one of the founding members of the league. Team president Morgan Bulkeley also served as the first President of the National League. The 1876 season saw the team become a part of baseball history, but not in a good way. On May 13th in a game against the New York Mutuals, in the bottom of the 5th with the bases loaded, the Dark Blues hit into the league’s first ever triple play, which went 4-3-4. Fortunately, the team was already crushing its opponents, and won by a score of 28-3. Their next infamous milestone came on July 15th. Entering the game, the team was in a three-game losing streak, including two straight losses to the St. Louis Brown Stockings. During that streak, the team was outscored 16-3, and was shut out in both games against St. Louis. Against Brown Stockings pitcher, George Bradley, they went hitless, giving Bradley and the NL its first ever no-hitter. Despite the shutout, and the triple play, both had no real bearing on the team's season as the Dark Blues finished in second place.

During the off-season, the New York Mutuals and Philadelphia Athletics were dropped from the National League. It was reported that Mutuals' team president William Cammeyer had canceled his club's final road trip on purpose so that the Dark Blues, who were having financial difficulties, could move to Brooklyn, NY. New league president William Hulbert agreed that the team would draw better in Brooklyn than they would in Hartford, CT. The Dark Blues became the first club to change cities without changing ownership (or their name for that matter), predating the Brooklyn Dodgers/New York Giants move by about 80 years. While the team continued to perform well on the field in 1877, producing their third straight winning season, going 31-27-2, the move to Brooklyn apparently was not a good one financially as the Dark Blues dropped out of the league on December 6th.

Despite their brief existence, author Mark Twain (who at the time was the most famous author in the United States) was a known member of their fanbase who would often attend their games.

Year Team Record Win % Place Manager
1874 Hartford Dark Blues 16-37-0 .302 7th in NA Lip Pike
1875 Hartford Dark Blues 54-28-4 .628 3rd in NA Bob Ferguson
1876 Hartford Dark Blues 47-21-1 .681 3rd in NL Bob Ferguson
1877 Hartfords of Brooklyn 31-27-2 .517 3rd in NL Bob Ferguson

Sources and Further Reading[edit]

  • David Arcidiacono: Major League Baseball in Gilded Age Connecticut: The Rise and Fall of the Middletown, New Haven, and Hartford Clubs, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010.
  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
  • Don Harrison: Connecticut Baseball: The Best of the Nutmeg State, History Press, Charleston, SC, 2008.


  • O.H. Bailey & Company, and C.H. Vogt & Company. “City of Hartford, Connecticut. 1877.” Bird’s-eye. Boston: O.H. Bailey & Company, 1877. Connecticut History Illustrated, Connecticut Historical Society.