Hartford Dark Blues
1874: Founded by financier Morgan G. Bulkeley the Hartford Dark Blues joined the National Association. The National Association was baseball’s first professional league, which was more of a loose association of clubs, than a formal league. The Dark Blues played their home games at the Hartford Ball Club Grounds and had a devoted follower in author Mark Twain. Hartford won its first game on May 1st, defeating the New York Mutuals 10-7. Managed by Lip Pike who also was the team’s best hitter, with a .355 average and 50 RBI, the Dark Blues struggled in their first season finishing seventh with a record of 16-37. Among the other players on Hartford’s roster was Tommy Barlow who was credited with inventing the bunt, while Cherokee Fisher was the Dark Blues top pitcher, winning 13 games.
1875: The Hartford Dark Blues would show significant improvement in their second season, thanks to an upgrade on the pitching staff. The big addition was Candy Cummings, who is credited with inventing the curve ball. Cummings, would post a record of 35-12 with an ERA of 1.60 while Tommy Bond was 19-16 with a 1.41 ERA. Hartford’s top hitter was Tom York, who batted .296. Managed by Bob Ferguson, the Dark Blues would finish in third place with a record of 54-28.
1876: The loosely affiliated National Association would transform into the National League, with more structure and set rules, the true era of Major League Baseball had begun. The Hartford Dark Blues were one of eight charter franchises in the National League, with Owner Morgan G. Bulkeley serving as the league’s first president. Once again Hartford had superior pitching with Tommy Bond winning 31 games, with an ERA 1.68, while Candy Cummings went 16-8 with an ERA of 1.67. The Dark Blues would finish in third place with a record of 47-21, as Dick Higham led the team in hitting with an average of .327. Following the season, the Dark Blues would relocate to Brooklyn.
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Page created on June 20, 2016. Last updated on June 20, 2016 at 11:45 pm ET.