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Hartford Chiefs

The Hartford Chiefs was the final name of the American minor league baseball franchise representing Hartford, Connecticut, that played in the Eastern League (then Class A) between 1938 and 1952.

Hartford Chiefs
19381952
Hartford, Connecticut
Class-level
PreviousA (1938–1952)
Minor league affiliations
LeagueEastern League (1938–1952)
Major league affiliations
PreviousBoston Bees/Braves (1938–1952)
Team data
Previous names
  • Chiefs (1946–1952)
  • Bees (1939–1943; 1945)
  • Laurels (1938; 1944)[1]
Previous parks
Bulkeley Stadium

The Hartford team, which played at Bulkeley Stadium, was known as the Bees from 1939–43 and in 1945; it was called the Laurels in 1938 and 1944[1] (although Baseball America's Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball calls the 1938 team the "Bees");[2] and then renamed the "Chiefs" for the final seven years of its existence, 1946–52. It was affiliated for all 15 of its seasons with the Boston Braves, and the Bees/Chiefs nickname switch for the Hartford club is probably a result of the parent team's temporary and unsuccessful renaming as the Boston Bees from 1936–40. The 1944 Laurels were recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.[3]


Contents

Long baseball traditionEdit

The Connecticut capital had been in organized baseball since the Hartford Dark Blues were a charter member of the National League in 187677. After those two years in Major League Baseball, Hartford was represented in eleven different minor leagues — including three earlier versions of the "Eastern League."[4] When the Class B Northeastern League folded after the 1934 season during the depths of the Great Depression, Hartford was without professional baseball for three seasons. Then it joined the Class A New York–Pennsylvania League of 1923–37. The arrival of franchises in Hartford and Trenton, New Jersey, caused the NYPL to change its identity to the Eastern League for 1938, with 2012 marking the 75th consecutive season the league has used the name.

Affiliate of Boston's NL franchiseEdit

The 1938 Laurels made the Eastern League playoffs and Hartford qualified for the postseason nine times in its 15-year history (including 1943–46 in succession), but the franchise never captured the league's playoff title. While the 1942 team included a future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Warren Spahn, the Boston Bees/Braves of the era did not have an extensive player development system. Class A was prior to 1963 a higher-level circuit, close to today's Double-A ranking, and the Hartford franchise was the Braves' most advanced minor league affiliate through 1945. In 1946, however, the Braves began to build out their farm system, adding Triple-A and Double-A affiliates and expanding their presence in Classes B, C and D. They also worked with a second Class A farm club, the Denver Bears of the Western League, from 1949–51.

But after winning the 1948 National League pennant, the big-league Braves experienced a dramatic fall-off in attendance, and played their last season in Boston in 1952. The Hartford Chiefs did not survive them; the franchise was transferred to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as an unaffiliated team for 1953. Meanwhile, the MLB Braves moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during spring training of 1953. They had two Class A affiliates that season: the Lincoln Chiefs of the Western League—inheritors of the Hartford team's nickname—and the Jacksonville Braves of the Sally League, whose star player in 1953 would be 19-year-old Henry Aaron.

Notable alumniEdit

Baseball Hall of Fame alumniEdit

Notable alumniEdit

Yearly recordEdit

Year Record Finish
Full Season
Attendance Manager Postseason
1938 67–67 Fourth 60,442 Eddie Onslow Lost to Hazleton in first round
1939 58–82 Seventh
(tied)
53,984 Fresco Thompson DNQ
1940 72–66 Third 75,399 Jack Onslow Lost to Binghamton in finals
1941 54–81 Seventh 66,529 Jack Onslow
Don Manno
DNQ
1942 62–78 Seventh 68,842 Del Bissonette DNQ
1943 77–59 Third 54,854 Del Bissonette Lost to Scranton in first round
1944 99–38 First 116,265 Del Bissonette Lost to Utica in first round
1945 68–67 Fourth 97,557 Merle Settlemire Lost to Wilkes-Barre in first round
1946 71–67 Fourth 140,249 Dutch Dorman Lost to Scranton in finals
1947 58–82 Sixth 92,397 Dutch Dorman DNQ
1948 74–67 Fourth 122,563 Earl Browne Lost to Albany in first round
1949 66–74 Fifth 138,306 Earl Browne
Ripper Collins
DNQ
1950 80–59 Third 84,159 Ripper Collins Lost to Wilkes-Barre in first round
1951 75–65 Fourth 106,801 Tommy Holmes
Travis Jackson
Lost to Scranton in first round
1952 59–79 Seventh 36,281 Del Bissonette DNQ

2016 return to Eastern LeagueEdit

In 2015, after more than six decades without a team in organized baseball, Hartford officials led by then-mayor Pedro Segarra proposed building a new baseball stadium (to be known as Dunkin' Donuts Park)[5] in the city's North End to attract the nearby New Britain Rock Cats of the modern Double-A Eastern League. The renamed Hartford Yard Goats[6] debuted in 2016 but played the entire season on the road — with some games moved to Norwich, 40 miles (64 km) to the southeast — because of construction delays. [7][8] Despite continued problems in completing the stadium, the team began play in Hartford's new ballpark in 2017.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007, p. 357
  3. ^ "Top 100 Teams". MiLB.com. 2001. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  4. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007, p. 62
  5. ^ NBC Connecticut, 2015-6-09
  6. ^ Keating, Christopher (April 20, 2015). "Lawmakers Clash on Hartford Baseball Stadium Financing". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  7. ^ Doyle, Paul (October 30, 2015). "Hartford Yard Goats' mascots: Chompers and Chew Chew". The Hartford Courant.
  8. ^ Ofgang, Erik (March 14, 2016). "Stadiums in CT: If You Build It, Headaches Will Come". Connecticut Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  9. ^ Carlesso, Jenna (February 28, 2017). "Council Rejects Proposal to Sell Dunkin' Donuts Park". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2017-02-28.

External linksEdit