Tag: company

The Royal Typewriter Baseball Club of Hartford

Back when most manufacturing companies organized baseball clubs, one of the longest running teams in the Nutmeg State was Royal Typewriter. In 1908, Royal Typewriter had moved their production operations from Brooklyn, New York, to New Park Avenue on Hartford’s western border. Along with their crosstown rival, Underwood Typewriter Company, Royal’s relocation made Hartford the “Typewriter Capital of the World.” That same year, Royal Typewriter Baseball Club joined the city’s lively amateur scene. Ownership built a baseball diamond on New Park Avenue, they supplied uniforms and equipment, and the Royals became a powerhouse in Hartford for about four decades.

1908 Royals vs. Criterions Hartford, CT
Royals vs. Criterions, 1908.
1908 Royal Typewriter Standard
No. 1 “Flatbed” Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1908.
City Championship, Royals vs. Echoes, Hartford, CT, 1909.
City Championship, Hartford, CT, 1909.
No. 1 "Flatbed" Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1909.
No. 1 “Flatbed” Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1909.
1909 Jul 17 Royal Typewriter vs. Hartford Rubber Works
Royal Typewriter vs. Hartford Rubber Works, 1909.

Key players on Royal Typewriter were young, local workmen. A tall right-handed pitcher named Moses “Moe” Lenhoff from Ashley Street was the team’s ace. Lenhoff enjoyed minor league experience with New Britain of the Connecticut State League and later with Amsterdam of the Eastern Association. His Royal battery mate was John “Boggy” Muldoon of West Hartford, a catcher who later signed with the Hartford Senators of the Eastern League at 20 years old. Following a semi-pro career, in which he caught a game for Babe Ruth, Muldoon became Connecticut’s best known umpire. He later retired from Royal Typewriter after 42 years of service.

Moses Lenhoff, Pitcher, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
Moses Lenhoff, Pitcher, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
Battery of Royal Baseball Team, 1911.
Muldoon, Lenhoff & Andrews, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
1912 Royal Typewriter Baseball Club
Marty Cleary, Eddie Johnson, Al Miller & Ed Horan, Royal Typewriter, 1912.
1912 Royal Typewriter Ad Hartford Courant
Royal Typewriter advertisement, Hartford Courant, 1912.

Royal Typewriter were revered as one of Hartford’s top company teams. The manager of the club was A.A. MacKay, recognized as “Father Baseball” by his players. In 1913, the Royals were chosen to represent the city in the newly arranged Connecticut Independent Baseball League by Hartford sporting goods purveyor and community organizer, Harry N. Anderson. Other cities included Manchester, Meriden, Wallingford, Bristol, New Britain, Windsor Locks and Collinsville. For a company team, Royal Typewriter was elite, but as semi-professionals the Royals of Hartford finished fourth in the standings in consecutive seasons.

1913 Anderson Royal Typewriter Baseball Club
H.M. Anderson, Royal Typewriter, 1913.
Royal Typewriter players, 1913.
Joe Burke, Bill Dwyer & Squizzer Pillion, Royal Typewriter, 1913.
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1919.
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1919.

On October 9, 1926, the Hartford Daily Courant reported that Royal made its one millionth typewriter. The thriving business remained active in local baseball. Thousands of fans had witnessed the Royals perform after work hours. However, public interest in company teams waned due the impending Great Depression. Unemployment made sports less of a priority in Hartford. Crowds of 5,000 at Royal games were now reduced to a few hundred Hartford Industrial League diehards.

Royal Typewriter factories, New Park Avenue Hartford, CT, 1930.
Royal Typewriter factories, New Park Avenue, Hartford, CT, 1930.
1934 Industrial League Standings
Hartford Industrial League standings, 1934.
1935 c. Royal Typewriter Hartford
Royal Typewriter, Hartford, CT, 1935.
1935 Apr 27 Royal Typewriter Frank A. Strong Manager
Royal Typewriter seek opponents, 1935.

Royal Typewriter finally hit their stride as a baseball franchise in the late 1930’s. They finished second in the Industrial League of 1937 under the direction of Manager Frank Strong. The next year, Royal Typewriter defeated Chance Vought and captured the “Dusty” League title with a perfect 15-0 win-loss record. Many Royals on the 1938 championship team such as Pete Kapura, George Dixon, John Carlin, Yosh Kinel and Jackie Cronin were savvy veterans with plenty of diamond time. They also appeared for the Savitt Gems, Bill Savitt’s semi-professional club at Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium.

1936 Bulkeley Stadium Industrial League
President K.C. Faustman & Vice President C.B. Cook of Royal Typewriter Co., 1936.
1936 Royal Typewriter Baseball Club Hartford
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1936.
Frank A. Strong, Charles Shimkus, Thomas Reilly and Andrew Jack, Hartford Industrial League, 1937.
Frank A. Strong, Charles Shimkus, Thomas Reilly & Andrew Jack, Hartford Industrial League, 1937.
1938 Royal Typewriter Hartford
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1938.
1938 Royal Typewriter Defeat Chance Vought to Finish Unbeaten
Royal Typewriter defeat Chance Vought to finish season unbeaten, Hartford Courant, 1938.
1938 Royal Typewriter Defeat Chance Vought to Finish Unbeaten Box Score
Royal Typewriter vs. Chance Vought, July 28, 1938.

Manager Strong guided the Royals to another winning season in 1939. They were runner-ups in the Dusty League behind Pratt & Whitney, but the Royals bounced back when they competed for a statewide “Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship” against the Bridgeport Springwoods. Because Bridgeport defeated Pratt & Whitney a few days earlier, the Royals secured the semi-pro state championship with a 3-2 win over Bridgeport. A week later, the Royals faced Rhode Island’s state champion, Club Marquette of Woonsocket, but were swept three games in row.

1939 Royal Typewriter Co. Win Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship
Royal Typewriter wins Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship, 1939.
1939 Aug 19 Royal Typewriter Charlie Adamick Umpire John Muldoon
Umpire John “Boggy” Muldoon rules out Charlie Adamick, Royal Typewriter, August 19, 1939.

Royal Typewriter underwent immense changes during World War II. The company converted all operations to exclusively manufacture goods for the Allied cause. Royal made machine guns, rifles, bullets, propellers and spare parts for airplane engines. When the war ended, Royal Typewriter sponsored a team in the Hartford Twilight League. At the end of the summer, Royal hosted the Pete Kapura Memorial Doubleheader. Kapura, a longtime Royal employee, died at 35 years old at Saint Francis Hospital due to an undisclosed illness. His wife and two kids were supported by more than 3,000 paying fans on August 11, 1947, at Bulkeley Stadium.

1941 Jun 13 Pratt-Whitney Machine Tops Royal Typewriter
Pratt & Whitney Machine tops Royal Typewriter, June 13, 1941.
Jon Cordier & Ed Roche, Royal Typewriter, Hartford Twilight League, 1947.
L to R: Ernie Hutt, Walt Fonfara, John Buikus & Nonny Zazzaro, Royal Typewriter, Hartford Twilight League, Colt Park, Hartford, CT, 1947.
Royal Typewriter alumni at Hallbach's Restaurant, Meriden, CT, 1951.
Royal Typewriter alumni at Hallbach’s Restaurant, Meriden, CT, 1951.
1955 Jaycee Courant Heublein A 1 Aces vs. Royal Typewriter
Heublein A-1 Aces vs. Royal Typewriter, Jaycee Courant, Hartford, 1955.
Umpire Boggy Muldoon retires from Royal Typewriter Co. after 42 years, 1958.
John “Boggy” Muldoon retires from Royal Typewriter Co. after 42 years, 1958.

Sources

1. Hartford Courant

2. Record-Journal

The National Pastime at Pratt & Whitney

April 18, 2020

Few companies in the world have made a greater impact on modern technology than Pratt & Whitney Company. From the production of interchangeable machine tools to jet engines, Pratt & Whitney is a global success story originating in Hartford, Connecticut. The business was founded in 1860 when Francis A. Pratt and Amos Whitney combined their mechanical expertise. They supplied machine tools for the production of firearms during the American Civil War and became a major source of custom machinery such as drills, mills and lathes. The company perfected the art of machining and its methods of measurement established the standard inch. In addition to its technological advancements, Pratt & Whitney also made significant, yet long forgotten contributions to the game of baseball throughout Greater Hartford.

Founders of Pratt & Whitney
First reported Pratt & Whitney game, 1866.
The Pratt & Whitney Company Hartford, Connecticut, 1877.

Baseball became popular in the mid-19th century as agrarian communities transformed into industrial cities. Workplaces began to form baseball clubs as a means of publicity, strengthening morale and to breath fresh air. Pratt & Whitney formed a company team as early as the summer of 1866, nearly a decade before professional baseball came to Hartford. The club challenged nines from Hartford and surrounding towns. Pratt & Whitney played their first out-of-state ballgame against Holyoke in 1883.

Pratt & Whitney vs. Willimantics, 1883.

Pratt & Whitney vs. Holyoke, July 19, 1883.
Pratt & Whitney executives Hartford, Connecticut, 1887 (c.)
Pratt & Whitney executives Hartford, Connecticut, 1887 (c.)

At the onset of the 20th century, Pratt & Whitney’s company team pioneered an indoor version of baseball. During the fall of 1899 and 1900, Hartford’s Indoor Baseball League played in the Y.M.C.A. gymnasium. During the summer months Pratt & Whitney played in Hartford’s Shop Baseball League which developed into Hartford’s Factory League. Opposing teams included Colt Armory, Billings & Spencer, Hartford Electric Vehicle, Hartford Rubber Works and Pope Manufacturing. Much to the delight of Hartford cranks, the Factory League convened at Colt Park and Wethersfield Avenue Grounds (later Clarkin Stadium and then Bulkeley Stadium).

Pratt & Whitney, Hartford, Connecticut, 1900.
Pratt & Whitney plays indoor baseball, 1900.

Pratt & Whitney records triple play, 1904.
A Pratt & Whitney parade float, Hartford, Connecticut, 1908.
Pratt & Whitney, Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 1911.
Pratt & Whitney ballplayers, 1913.
Industrial League action at Colt Park, Hartford, 1913.

By 1916, Hartford’s Factory League had evolved into the Hartford Industrial League. Also nicknamed the Dusty League, it was Hartford’s best amateur loop. Pratt & Whitney seized the league’s championship in its inaugural season. Standout players included: Dutch Leonard, a hard-throwing moundsman from Hartford, John Muldoon, a catcher who went on to sign with the Hartford Senators of the Eastern Association and Sam Hyman a southpaw hurler from Hartford High School who played professionally for eleven years. However, most players were local men from Hartford. An amatuer named Rex Islieb was a skillful outfielder named who led Pratt & Whitney to clinch the Hartford Industrial League pennant in 1918.

Pitchers Dutch Leonard and Joe Smith of the Factory League, 1916.
Pratt & Whitney wins Industrial League, 1916.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1917.
John Muldoon, Catcher, Pratt & Whitney, 1918.

Then on September 22, 1918, Pratt & Whitney’s club squared off against a 23-year-old Babe Ruth. Eleven days after Ruth and the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, he came to Hartford to play in benefit games at Wethersfield Avenue Grounds. The exhibitions fundraised for the Bat and Ball Fund, which donated baseball equipment to American soldiers of World War I. Ruth hurled for the semi-pro Hartford Poli’s club and batted third. His Red Sox teammate, “Bullet” Joe Bush started on the mound while Herman Bronkie, Shano Collins and Joe Dugan appeared for Pratt Whitney. Even though Ruth pitched well, The Bambino was outdueled by Bush’s two-hit pitching performance and Pratt & Whitney won a 1-0 contest.

1918 Boston Red Sox, World Series Champions.
Babe Ruth and Joe Bush, Boston Red Sox, 1918.
Pratt & Whitney faces Ruth, September 23, 1918.
Herman Bronkie, St. Louis Cardinals, 1918.
Shano Collins, Chicago White Sox, 1918.
Joe Dugan, Philadelphia Athletics, 1918.

During World War I, Pratt & Whitney not only supplied the war effort but they also defeated Babe Ruth. The company team retained their good form the following season and captured the 1919 Industrial League championship. Thousands of spectators turned out at Hartford’s Colt Park to witness amateurs, like local slugger Jack Vannie and his Pratt & Whitney nine. The club’s third consecutive season title made headlines in the Hartford Courant and a celebration was held at Hotel Bond on Asylum Street. Pratt & Whitney’s company team became one of the state’s most prestigious clubs.

Pratt & Whitney Baseball Club, 1919.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1919.

The “Roaring Twenties” prompted more expansion at Pratt & Whitney. In addition to baseball, Pratt & Whitney employees also formed bowling, tennis, basketball and football clubs. The baseball club continued to do battle in Hartford’s Industrial League, though with less success than the previous decade. Employees and local fans lean on baseball while the proliferation of automobiles and advances in air travel altered the future of Pratt & Whitney. In 1925, aviation engineer Frederick Rentschler partnered with Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool to build new aircraft engines, thus beginning Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company.

Hartford Industrial Athletic League trophies, 1921.
Johns-Pratt vs. Pratt & Whitney at Colt Park, 1923.
Pratt & Whitney Co. Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, (c.) 1925.

Rentschler began to produce hundreds of Wasp aircraft engines but soon broke away from Pratt & Whitney. In 1929, the company merged with Boeing to form United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (predecessor of United Technologies Corporation). As part of the agreement, Hartford’s United Aircraft retained the name Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. While individuals and businesses were stricken by the ill effects of 1929’s Stock Market Crash and the ensuing Great Depression, the aviation industry managed to flourish. Aircraft manufacturers thrived on favorable federal contracts and subsidies. In 1930, the new Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company established another baseball club.

Frederick Rentschler, President of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 1926.
L to R: Pratt & Whitney Executives George Mead, Fred Rentschler, Don Brown and William Willgoos stand with the 1000th Wasp Engine, 1929.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1930.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1930.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1930.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1930.

Meanwhile Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool pressed on as a separate company with a baseball club of their own. Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft would often go head-to-head on the diamond. But in 1934, federal antitrust laws broke up United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. A new company was formed called United Aircraft Corporation, consisting of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, Sikorsky, Chance Vought and Hamilton Standard was headquartered in Hartford with Frederick Rentschler as president. By 1935, Rentschler had completed a giant complex in East Hartford, Connecticut, to manufactures airplanes.

Hal Justin, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co., 1932.
Hal Justin, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co., 1932.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and Chance Vought plants in East Hartford, Connecticut, 1935.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and Chance Vought plants in East Hartford, Connecticut, 1935.
Sikorsky S-42 Clipper with United Aircraft Hornet Engines, 1935.
1936 May 21 - Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Baseball Club
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1936.

Regardless of the many business changes, both Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft (United Aircraft) sponsored teams in Hartford’s Industrial League, the Public Service League and the East Hartford Twilight League. United Aircraft had clubs in the East Hartford Twilight League in and the Industrial League in 1937. The team featured local greats and future GHTBL Hall of Fame inductees Joe Tripp and Bill Calusine. Former professional ballplayer, Hal Justin served as manager and led United Aircraft to the 1939 Industrial League championship.

Sikorsky S-43 powered by Pratt & Whitney Hornet engines of Pan American Airlines clipper, 1936.
U.S. Marines visit Hartford to play against United Aircraft (Pratt & Whitney Aircraft), 1937.
4United Aircraft (Pratt & Whitney Aircraft), Hartford Industrial League Champions, 1939.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft (United Aircraft), East Hartford, 1940.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft newsletter cover, 1940.
Pratt & Whitney Tool assembly line, 1940.

By 1941, America had gone to war against the Axis powers of World War II. Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool (which relocated to West Hartford in 1939) and United Aircraft made major contributions to the war effort. United Aircraft’s workforce swelled to more than 40,000 employees, who helped the United States build more planes than any other warring nation. To relieve stress and to retain a sense of normalcy, many employees played amateur baseball.

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1940.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1941
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1942.

After winning the Industrial League in 1942, Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool joined the East Hartford Twilight League in 1943 and won the pennant once again. Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and United Aircraft were two of the best amateur teams in Connecticut during the wartime era. The companies clashed multiple times at Burnside Park in East Hartford. Both lineups featured professionals whose careers were interrupted by World War II. Former minor leaguer John Chomick and brother duo Pete Kapura and George Kapura were members of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft club, while Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool fielded former Boston Braves pitcher, George Woodend as well as Daniel Zazzaro, Jake Banks and Charlie Wrinn who had brief minor league careers.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1942.
Joe Tripp, Shortstop, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 1943.
George Woodend, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool, 1943.
Jake Banks, Outfielder, Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool, 1944.
Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool, West Hartford, 1945.
“Iggy” Miller Murawski, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 1947.
John “Yosh” Kinel, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney, 1949.
Charlie Wrinn, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney, 1951.

In 1952, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft won championships in the Hartford Industrial League and the Manchester Twilight League. The following summer, the company team tested their mettle in the Hartford Twilight League and outshined the competition. Led by their manager, Johnny Roser, Aircraft earned the 1953 Hartford Twilight League championship. Professional scouts continued to take notice. In 1954, the New York Giants signed Pratt & Whitney Aircraft pitcher, Bob Kelley to a minor league contract. Aircraft’s company team solidified their dynasty in 1955 when they commandeered another dual championship in the Industrial League and the Hartford Twilight League.

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft advertisement in the Hartford Courant, 1952.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft vs. Puritan Maids, 1953.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft win the Hartford Twilight League, 1953.
New York Giants sign Pratt & Whitney Aircraft pitcher, Bob Kelley, 1954.
Hartford Twilight League Opening Day, 1955.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft wins the Industrial League and the Hartford Twilight League, 1955.
Bill Risley, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 1955.
Jack Downes of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft accepts the Hartford Courant Trophy, 1955.

In 1957, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft first baseman Dick Pomeroy won the Hartford Twilight League batting title. The club’s ace and freshman at the University of Connecticut, Pete Sala pitched his way to a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft entered the Hartford Twilight League for a final season in 1960. In the coming years, Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft began to favor softball teams instead of baseball. When the company opened a new division in North Haven, Connecticut later that year, a baseball field was erected on the premises for the enjoyment of employees and management.

Mayor Cronin’s first pitch at Opening Day of the Hartford Twilight League at Colt Park, Hartford, 1956.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of the Hartford Industrial League, 1956.
Pete Sala, Pitcher, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 1957.
Pratt & Whitney ballgame in North Haven, Connecticut, 1957.
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, North Haven Branch, 1957.
Pratt & Whitney first pitch, North Haven, Connecticut, 1957.

Clubs adorned with the name Pratt & Whitney competed in Hartford’s amateur leagues for nearly a century. Employees and fans turned to the game for recreation and entertainment throughout two world wars. Amidst decades of change, mergers and acquisitions, baseball was a constant for local manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Although few people remember, Pratt & Whitney and its employees were major influencers on the development of baseball in the Greater Hartford area.

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, Connecticut, 1980.
1930’s Pratt & Whitney baseball uniform at Connecticut Historical Society, 2019.


Sources:

  1. Hartford Courant, available at www.newspapers.com (accessed: 2020).
  2. Pratt & Whitney, available at www.prattandwhitney.com (accessed: 2020).