Posts Tagged ‘Main Street and Trumbull Street’

Rock Cats Celebrate 20th Anniversary at New Britain Stadium By Leaving

April 27th, 2015

New Britain Stadium is located in Willow Brook Park at 230 John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The City of New Britain constructed the ballpark in 1995 as a replacement for Beehive Field, which the city had built only 12 years earlier in 1982 to entice a professional minor league team (the Bristol Red Sox) to move to New Britain.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium was built adjacent to Beehive Field, which remains at the site just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium and is used by the local high school and American Legion teams.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Field from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1996, the Eastern League Hardware City Rock Cats played their home games at New Britain Stadium. The name Hardware City is a reference to New Britain’s nickname (Stanley Black & Decker’s headquarters is located in New Britain).

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1997, the team changed its name to the New Britain Rock Cats.

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1995 to 2014, New Britain was an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In 2015, the Rock Cats became an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In addition to holding approximately 2,000 more fans than its predecessor Beehive Field,  New Britain Stadium is enclosed by a brick and concrete facade and stadium structure that is more in line with minor league ballparks built in the 1990s. New Britain Stadium, unlike Beehive Field, also has a covered concourse behind the grandstand with many more concessions options.

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium includes a small covered grandstand with a press box behind home plate.

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Much of the ballpark seating is uncovered, metal bleachers.

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The seats in the grandstand behind home plate and close to the field between first and third base, are made of plastic and have distinctive formed plastic arm rests.

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With its placement in the middle of a public park, New Britain Stadium has a rural feel, especially looking out beyond the center field fence.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium’s scoreboard includes a video board. Mounted next to the scoreboard is a one story tall plastic milk bottle advertising Guida’s Dairy.

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The milk advertisement is perhaps a nod to the famous Hood plastic milk bottle sign that once sat atop the right field roof at Fenway Park and later was moved to LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners.

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With racing mascot mania reaching new heights in professional baseball, New Britain features a 7th inning fast food run of donuts and coffee sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.

Racing Donuts and Coffee! New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Racing Donuts and Coffee! Caution Contents May Be Hot. New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Although a tour of New Britain Stadium does not leave one with the impression that the ballpark needs replacement, the Rock Cats after only 20 seasons in the ballpark are leaving anyway, and 2015 will be the last season of professional, affiliated minor league baseball at New Britain Stadium

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 2016, the Rock Cats are moving 14 miles up Highway 9 to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, Connecticut.

Route 9, the Road Out of New Britain Stadium Which Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

Route 9 Can Bee Seen Behind New Britain Stadium’s Right Field/First Base Foul Line. It Is the Road North Out of New Britain And Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

The team’s move to Hartford is a bit of a homecoming for the city. From 1921 to 1952, Hartford hosted an Eastern League team at Bulkeley Stadium, once located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street and currently the site of a nursing facility.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played at New Britain Stadium. The unaffiliated Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium.

Thus, beginning in 2016, New Britain will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium – Now A Nursing Home With A Home Plate

September 11th, 2014

Morgan M. Bulkeley Stadium was located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The ballpark originated in 1921 as Clarkin Field, named in honor of its builder, Jim Clarkin, the owner of the Eastern League Hartford Senators. After a fire in 1927,  the ballpark was rebuilt. Clarkin sold the team the following year and the ballpark was renamed Bulkeley Stadium in honor of Baseball Hall of Famer Morgan G. Bulkeley, the first president of the National League as well as a former president of Aetna Insurance Company, and a former politician (Connecticut Governor, U.S. Senator, and Hartford Mayor). Bulkeley had lived in Hartford and died  in 1922.

Buckeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

The site today is occupied primarily by Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Hartford native Norm Hausmann spearheaded a drive to get a historic marker placed at the former site of Bulkeley Stadium. The marker sits at the entrance to Ellis Manor on George Street in what was once left field.

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Buckeley Stadium

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Bulkeley Stadium

Clarkin Field/Bulkeley Stadium was home to the Eastern League Hartford Senators from 1921 to 1932 (in 1934 the Senators returned for one season to Bulkeley Stadium as part of the Northeastern League). Bulkeley Stadium also was home to the Eastern League Hartford Bees from 1939 to 1945 (also known as the Laurels), and the Eastern League Hartford Chiefs from 1946 to 1952. The Bees, Laurels, and Chiefs all were affiliated with the National League Boston Braves. The integrated semi-pro Savitt Gems (named after long time Hartford jeweler Bill Savitt) also played at Bulkeley Stadium. One of the stars of Savitt Gems was Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor, a high school phenomenon who pitched for Bulkeley High School and later for the Negro National League Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Negro National League New York Cubans. In 1949, Taylor pitched for the Hartford Chiefs at Bulkeley Stadium.

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Clarkin Field also was home to the Hartford Blues football team in 1925 (the following season the Blues played their one professional season in the National Football League).

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher's Mound

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher’s Mound

The location of home plate is marked with a granite plaque near the northeast corner of Ellis Manor, to the left of the front entrance. To better appreciate the former site of Bulkeley Stadium, click here: Courant.com for a vintage aerial photo of Bulkeley Stadium.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The grandstand directly behind home plate was located where Hanmer Street terminates just northeast of Ellis Manor.

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Grandstand  Buckeley Stadium Behind Home Plate

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Grandstand

Although the ballpark was demolished in 1960, a chain link fence that ran alongside the third base grandstand dating back to Bulkeley Stadium remains on the site. The fence is clearly visible in the vintage photograph of Bulkeley Stadium that appears at the beginning of this blog. Although not quite as historically significant as the John T. Brush Memorial Stairway located near the former site of the Polo Grounds, the fence certainly is worth noting given its connection to Bulkeley Stadium.

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Buckeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Bulkeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

The third base grandstand paralleled a driveway that now runs north and south along the eastern side of the Ellis Manor.

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Third Base Grandstand

Bulkeley Stadium was a basic, no frills ballpark. A single deck, covered grandstand ran from third base to the left field corner. Uncovered wood bleachers continued from third base to the right field corner.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

First base was located in front of what is now a covered driveway near the front door entrance to Ellis Manor.

Former Location of First Base at Buckeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of First Base at Bulkeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

The driveway from George Street into Ellis Manor was once left field.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Some residences that ring the parameter of the ballpark site date to the time of Bulkeley Stadium. A few “new” houses actually sit on the former stadium site. One such house, at 204 George Street, sits in what was once the left field grandstand.

House at 204 George Street  Which Sits in Former Location of  Buckeley Stadium Left Field Grand Stand

House at 204 George Street Which Sits in Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Grandstand

The open side yard at 204 George Street was once the left field corner.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Right Field to Center field ran north to south along George Street.

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to RIght Field Toward Center Field

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to Bulkeley Stadium’s Right Field (Toward Center Field)

The center field was located across from the intersection of George Street and Goodrich Street where a grove of trees now sits.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Inside the front entrance to Ellis Manor, across from the reception desk, is a wall of fame honoring the memory of Bulkeley Stadium. Many future Baseball Hall of Famers played for Hartford at Bulkeley Stadium, including Lou Gehrig, Leo Durocher, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Sain, and Warren Spahn. The wonderful staff at the nursing home and rehabilitation center are proud of their facility’s connection to professional baseball and are very helpful answering questions about the ballpark.

Buckeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

After 65 seasons without professional baseball, Hartford once again will have professional team beginning in 2016. The Eastern League Rock Cats are moving from their current home in New Britain Stadium to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, just five miles north of the former site of Bulkeley Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

The City recently secured property in downtown Hartford at the intersection of Main Street and Trumbell Street, approximately three miles north of Bulkeley Stadium. Although professional baseball will never return to the site of Bulkeley Stadium, it is still possible to play catch in the left field corner of the old ballpark site – that is, as long as the folks who own the side yard at 204 George Street don’t mind you doing so.

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Posted in Buckeley Stadium, Connecticut ballparks | Comments (4)