Tag: connecticut

Baseball Bloodlines: The Burnham Brothers

The Burnham brothers are two of the best all-time ballplayers from South Windsor, Connecticut. Gary Burnham Jr. and Brett Burnham are sons of Deborah and Gary Burnham Sr. After outstanding amateur careers, the Burnham’s became minor leaguers who greatly enhanced Connecticut’s baseball reputation. Separated by six and a half years, the brother duo was heavily influenced by their grandfather, Ralph Giansanti Sr. and their uncle, Ralph Giansanti Jr. both of whom also played minor league baseball.

L to R: Gary Burnham Jr., Ralph Giasanti Sr. and Ralph Giansanti Jr. – painted by Gary Burnham Jr.

Gary Burnham Jr.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 13, 1974, Gary Burnham displayed athletic promise from an early age. At 15, he was a left-handed prospect who swatted a .500 batting average for American Legion Post 133, South Windsor. To develop his skills against more experienced players, Gary also competed in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League in between his legion schedule. As a young teenager, he manned the outfield and filled in at first base for the Moriarty Brothers franchise, directed by revered player-manager Gene Johnson.

Gary Burnham (kneeling, 2nd from left), American Legion Post 133, South Windsor, 1989.
Gary Burnham, South Windsor American Legion, 1990.

Gary graduated from South Windsor High School where he earned four varsity letters in baseball and football. He captained South Windsor baseball to the Class-L State Championship in his senior year and was named All-Conference, All-State and All-American along with Gatorade’s CT High School Player of the Year. Gary also captured the Hugh Greer Award as Outstanding Athlete of South Windsor’s Class of 1993. He was then drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 22nd round of the 1993 Major League Baseball Draft but instead, Gary chose to accept an athletic scholarship to Clemson University in South Carolina. 

Gary Burnham projected as high draft pick, Hartford Courant excerpt, June 3, 1993.
Gary Burnham named state’s best, 1993.

As a freshman at Clemson, Gary started in left field and batted fifth and Clemson was ranked first in the nation during most of the 1994 season. In 1995, he spearheaded a College World Series run and achieved All-ACC and All-American honors. He walloped a .344 batting average and ranked second in NCAA Division-I with 27 doubles. That summer, the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod Baseball League tapped Gary to play in Massachusetts. After a formidable performance, he was selected to the 1995 Cape Cod League All-Star Game at Boston’s Fenway Park and secured MVP of the game.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Clemson University, 1994.

In 1996, Baseball America ranked Gary Burnham as the 56th “Best College Prospect” and 3rd Team Preseason All-American. He took Clemson to their second College World Series appearance and was voted to the All-ACC team. The Oakland A’s selected Gary in the 40th round of the 1996 MLB draft though again, he did not sign. Gary returned to the Cape Cod League with the Falmouth Commodores in the summertime. During his senior year, Gary led the Tigers in almost every offensive statistic and earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award. He hit .391 with 15 home runs, 82 RBI, 106 hits and concluded his college career by setting the program’s doubles record (77).

Gary Burnham trots home after walk-off homer against University of Alabama, 1996.

For a third time Gary was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies organization in the 22nd round of the 1997 MLB Draft. It was the start of a fourteen year professional career highlighted by eleven years in the minors and four years in Asia. Gary got his start in rookie ball on the Batavia Clippers of the New York-Pennsylvania League and led his club in base hits, batting average and total bases. In 1998, he was promoted to High-A ball with the Clearwater Phillies alongside Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell. Gary crashed a .296 batting average with 33 doubles, 10 triples and 93 runs, while leading Florida State League first basemen with a .994 fielding percentage.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Clearwater Phillies, 1998.

Gary won another promotion to the Double-A Reading Phillies in 1999, where he split time between first base and outfield. He compiled 12 home runs and 49 RBI over 116 games, though his batting average slumped to .249. The next season, Gary bounced back, hitting .268 with 28 doubles for Reading. In 2001, he suited up for a third season with Reading and hit .318 with 25 doubles and 15 homers. He had the best average in the Phillies farm system, which was third-best in the Eastern League.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Reading Phillies, 2001.

After five seasons with the Phillies organization, Gary ended up being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays during Spring Training of 2002. The Blue Jays gave the 27-year-old his first shot at the Triple-A level with the 2002 Syracuse SkyChiefs. Gary had a career year, hitting .281 with 151 base knocks, 34 doubles, 17 home runs and 88 RBI. He paced Syracuse in RBI and was chosen as the team’s MVP. He also led the Blue Jays organization with 238 total bases, was third in the International League in RBI and had the most assists among all first basemen.

Gary Burnham (right) and teammate, Kevin Cash, Syracuse SkyChiefs, 2002.

In 2003, Gary served as Toronto’s Triple-A backup plan for their star first baseman, Carlos Delgado. Gary carved out a .269 batting average for Syracuse with 9 home runs in an off-year. He then split the 2004 season between the St. Louis Cardinals’ Memphis Redbirds affiliate (.292 in 35 games) and the Cincinnati Reds’ Louisville Bats club (.261 in 69 games). In 2005, the 30-year-old southpaw played for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. He led his team in runs (75), doubles (32), home runs (18) and RBI (84). Gary finished second in the Atlantic League with a .320 batting average. He was saluted with All-Star honors and awarded team MVP of the Bluefish.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Syracuse SkyChiefs, 2003.

Gary started the following season with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. He began the year batting .319 over 19 games and played well. The Philadelphia Phillies took notice and signed Gary to another minor league contract on May 23, 2006. He went on to clobber a .341 batting average in 80 games for the Double-A Reading Phillies with 16 homers and 60 RBI. He was recognized as a Topps National Player of the Month for hitting 10 dingers in August. Despite missing about a month of the season, Gary achieved the Triple Crown in the Phillies farm system and set the Reading Phillies career home run record (56).

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Reading Phillies, 2006.
Paul Galloway and Gary Burnham (right) at Clemson Alumni Game, 2006.

At the end of 2006, the Phillies called him up to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Gary had a torrid hot stretch hitting .391 average, 9 runs and 8 RBI in 10 games. It was clear that he was a major league caliber player, but the Phillies had 2006 MVP Ryan Howard at first base. Gary remained in Triple-A in 2007, starting at designated hitter, first base and outfield for the Ottawa Lynx of the International League. After batting .292 with 12 home runs, 35 doubles, 84 RBI and a league-best on base percentage, Ottawa dubbed him team MVP.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Ottawa Lynx, 2007.
Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Ottawa Lynx, 2007.

After concluding his minor league career in the United States, Gary welcomed new opportunities from abroad. In the off-season, he made appearances in the Mexican Pacific Winter League and the Dominican Winter League. Then in 2008, Gary signed a contract with the La New Bears of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League. Over a total of 70 games for the Bears, he batted .323 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI. At 33 years old, he set a league record among foreign-born players by hitting in 23 consecutive games.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, La New Bears, 2008.

Gary parlayed his Taiwan season’ into a role in Japan. He joined the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball, managed by Bobby Valentine. In a game against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Gary hit a game-winning homer off of future New York Yankees pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka. Gary was also selected to team Italy’s preliminary roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but he did not compete in the tournament. However in 2010, he inked his last professional deal with the Godo Knights of the Italian Baseball League, ranking top ten in most offensive categories.

Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Chiba Lotte Marines, 2009.
Gary with his wife, Rachel Burnham in 2009.
Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Chiba Lotte Marines, 2009.
Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Chiba Lotte Marines, 2009.
Gary Burnham, First Baseman, Chiba Lotte Marines, 2009.

Gary retired from professional baseball at 35 years old. In total, he amassed 155 home runs, 856 RBI, a .293 career batting average and a .375 on base percentage. He was also an underrated defender; in 662 minor league games, he maintained a .992 fielding percentage with only 51 errors. Gary was named an all-star at every minor league level and received three team MVP awards. In 2010, the Reading Phillies named him to the All-Decade team. Then in 2016, the Reading Phillies inducted Gary Burnham into the Reading Phillies Hall of Fame in the same class as Nick Punto, Eric Valent, Jason Michaels and Pat Burrell.

Gary Burnham accepting his induction into Reading Phillies Hall of Fame, 2016.
L to R: Nick Punto, Eric Valent, Gary Burnham, Jason Michaels and Pat Burrell – Reading Phillies Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

During his professional career, Gary spent several off-seasons as a substitute teacher and a baseball instructor in the Greater Hartford area. In 2018, he helped to establish the South Windsor Phillies franchise in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Nowadays, he gives private and group lessons as owner of Gary Burnham Baseball Instruction in South Windsor. He works in surgical device sales as National Accounts Manager of Vanguard Medical while operating a real estate investment business, GRB Properties LLC. Gary lives in South Windsor with his wife Rachel and their three children.

Gary Burnham reunites with Bobby Valentine at a World Series Club event, West Hartford, Connecticut, 2017.

Gary Burnham sets Reading Phillies career home run record, 2006.

Brett Burnham

Born January 1, 1981, Brett Burnham was a tough kid and natural athlete who began his teenage years by overcoming cancer. At the age of 13, Brett made his first appearance on the national stage with the Connecticut Mariners at the 1994 AAU National Tournament in West Des Moines, Iowa. Brett was named Most Valuable Player after hitting a grand slam and pitching four hitless innings in relief to win the championship. His head coach was longtime AAU contributor, Bob Hetu. The following year, Brett smashed a three-run homer and was the driving force to another AAU national title run in Cocoa, Florida.

Brett Burnham (3rd from right) and the Connecticut Mariners win AAU National Title, 1994.
Brett Burnham earns MVP award and AAU National Title, West Des Moines, Iowa, 1994.

Brett attended South Windsor High School where he started all four years on the baseball and football teams, like his brother Gary. He was named to the Class-LL All-State team, compiling a .474 batting average with 6 home runs and 20 stolen bases as a sophomore. During the summers, Brett was key to the South Windsor American Legion baseball team (1995-1998) and was twice named to the Connecticut all-star team. In July of 1997, Brett was scouted by the Boston Red Sox at Yale Field to compete in the Area Code Baseball Games in San Diego, California.

Brett Burnham, Infielder, South Windsor High School, 1996.
Brett Burnham (standing, center with striped uniform), Class-LL All-State Team, 1997.

In the summer of 1998, Brett Burnham joined the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. He was a rookie on Newman Lincoln-Mercury, the franchise formerly known as Moriarty Brothers. As a 17 year old, Brett improved his game in the GHTBL while leading the South Windsor American Legion team to their second straight Zone 8 title. In 1999, he batted a whopping .649 average during his senior year at South Windsor High School. He earned All-Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association for his high school season. After winning GHTBL’s 1999 Season Title with Newman Lincoln-Mercury, Brett traveled south to attend Auburn University.

Brett Burnham featured in Hartford Courant, June 30, 1999.

As a freshman, Brett guarded third base for the Tigers, slashed .268, scored 28 runs and drove in 33 RBI with 9 doubles and 2 home runs. In early 2000, Brett was selected by the newly established Manchester Silkworms of the New England Collegiate Baseball League that summer. The following year at Auburn, he batted .275, scored 31 runs, stole 28 bases with 11 doubles and 22 RBI. Brett wanted a bigger role and an opportunity to get drafted going into his Junior season. Wanting greater responsibility and to be closer to home, Brett transferred to University of Connecticut in the fall of 2001.

Brett Burnham, Infielder, Auburn University, 2001.
Brett Burnham plays for the Manchester Silkworms, 2000.

Under the tutelage of Head Coach Andy Baylock, Brett played shortstop for the Connecticut Huskies. In 2002, he raked .335 with 14 doubles, 6 home runs, 49 RBI and led NCAA Division-I with 32 hit by pitches. For his terrific season, Brett was honored with a 2nd Team All-Big East Conference nod. He played in the GHTBL that summer as shortstop for Mr. G’s franchise – named for Brett’s grandfather, Ralph Giansanti Sr. The club was sponsored by his uncle, Ralph Giansanti Jr. and former big leaguer, Ricky Bottalico. Brett helped Mr. G’s win the 2002 GHTBL Season Title, while collecting the 2002 Herb Sheintop Player of the Year Award.

Brett Burnham drafted by San Diego Padres, 2003.

After serving as captain during 2003 season at UConn, Brett as was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft. He went west for rookie ball in the Pioneer League. As a second baseman on the Idaho Falls Padres, Brett performed well over 50 games, leading the team in on base percentage and doubles while batting for a .290 average. At 23 years old, he was promoted to Single-A with the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. During that 2004 season Unfortunately, Brett broke his hand in a Spring Training game. He returned six weeks later and in the first game back, broke his hand again. Brett was released and retired from professional baseball in 2004.

Brett Burnham, Infielder, Eugene Emeralds, 2004.
Eugene Emeralds logo, 2004.

Eventually, Brett rejoined the GTHBL aboard Mr. G’s franchise once again. He led the league in stolen bases during the summer of 2005. When Mr. G’s disbanded, he reunited with his former manager, Gene Johnson, who headed the Foss Insurance team (previously called Newman Lincoln-Mercury). By the end of his twilight career, Brett was a 3-time batting champion with three home run titles, seven RBI titles, four stolen base titles and a Triple Crown season in 2010. Brett was a 4-time MVP, a 5-time Player of the Year and a GHTBL All-Star nearly every year. His final baseball season was in 2011, when Brett received a special honor as GHTBL Player of the Decade.

Brett Burnham, Shortstop, Foss Insurance, 2009.

In 2015, Brett and his wife, Cristi Burnham were both inducted into the South Windsor High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Together they founded Happy’s Nutrition in South Windsor, offering shakes, smoothies and teas using Herbalife products. Brett has pivoted from corporate America to full-time Herbalife entrepreneur with Cristi, and they have reached the top one percentile of sales. Brett and Cristi were high school sweethearts where it all began, in South Windsor. They now have four children and reside in Ellington, Connecticut.

Brett and and his wife, Cristi Burnham, Happy’s Nutrition, South Windsor, Connecticut, 2018.

Sources

  1. Hartford Courant database on Newspapers.com
  2. BR Bullpen – https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Gary_Burnham
  3. BR Bullpen – https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Brett_Burnham

Hartford Twilight Manager Spotlight: Tom Abbruzzese

Since 1976, Tom Abbruzzese has managed the same Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League franchise. Abbruzzese initially managed Society for Savings Bank with his father, Mike Abbruzzese. They fielded strong teams rostered by the likes of Mark Riemer, David Gale and Kevin Gieras. Society for Savings eventually became Bank of Boston and then People’s Bank in the summer of 2000. The franchise has amassed fifteen Regular Season and Playoff Championships. The “Bankers” have recruited and advanced numerous professional players to and from the GHTBL year after year. With Abbruzzese at the helm, People’s remains a perennial contender.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 21, 1981.
2009 People’s Bank

Born on August 11, 1943, in Hartford, Connecticut. Abbruzzese is the longest serving GHTBL manager in history. He is a graduate of Wethersfield High School and Fairfield University (1965). Then he worked for the Hartford Parks Department for a brief period. In 1971, Abbruzzese organized and coached a team in the Junior and Senior Division of the Jaycee Courant League who played home games at Hartford’s Colt Park. His team was sponsored by team sponsored by Society for Savings, a regional bank with staying power in Hartford. Abbruzzese then entered Society for Savings into the GHTBL during the summer of 1976.

Tom Abbruzzese holds mound meeting, 2019.
Manager Tom Abbruzzese at Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 2019.

Abbruzzese earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of Connecticut (1996). His current profession is as Director of Adult Education, in Newington, Connecticut.  Previously he was a Vice Principal of Ledyard High School Ledyard High School (1974-1995) and before that, Recreation Leader for the City of Hartford (1963-1976), According to Abbruzzese, he’s, “thankful not only for the outstanding players I have had the privilege of coaching and continue to have, but most importantly for their exceptional character as well. These two qualities are the ingredients for success.” Abbruzzese resides in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Manager Tom Abbruzzese, People’s United Bank, 2020
Tom Abbruzzese (right) accepts GTHBL service award, 2020.
Manager Tom Abbruzzese at Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 2021.

2021 GHTBL Award Winners

The following 2021 Regular Season and Playoff Tournament awards were either achieved and/or voted on by league managers:

Frank McCoy Award, Most Valuable Player – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Mike Liappes Award, Most Valuable Pitcher – Matt Curtis, P, Vernon Orioles

Hal Lewis Award, Most Versatile Player – Evan Chamberlain, P/3B, Rainbow Graphics &

AJ Hendrickson, P/C, Record-Journal Expos

Gene Johnson Award, Regular Season Batting Champion – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

James Gallagher Award, Rookie of the Year – Matt Curtis, P, Vernon Orioles

Jack Repass Award, Golden Glove – Corey Plasky, IF, East Hartford Jets

Bill Chapulis Award, Home Run Title – Mike Munson, OF, Malloves Jewelers

Mark and Jane Foss Award, RBI Leader – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Ralph Giansanti Sr. Award, Stolen Base Title – Christian Boudreau, IF, Hartford Colts

Rev. Thomas Campion Award, Outstanding Playoff Hitter – Chris Bogan, 1B, East Hartford Jets

Mike Abbruzzese Award, Outstanding Playoff Pitcher – Bryan Albee, P, East Hartford Jets

Jake Banks Trophy, Regular Season Champion – Jack Ceppetelli, Manager, Vernon Orioles

Jack Rose Trophy, Playoff Champion – Taylor Kosakowski, Manager, East Hartford Jets

A Real Connecticut Yankee’s Baseball Career Cut Short

This article was published on ConnetcticutHistory.org on April 20, 2020.

Danny Hoffman’s story reminds sports fans of the fragile nature of a professional athlete’s career. An up-and-coming baseball star discovered playing on the lots of Collinsville, Connecticut, Hoffman played in the majors under legendary manager Connie Mack before joining the New York Yankees (before they were even known as the “Yankees”); but one pitch dramatically changed his career trajectory.

Hoffman was a native of Canton, Connecticut, attended local schools, and frequently played ball in the Collinsville section of town. There, a scout from the Connecticut League’s Springfield, Massachusetts, franchise discovered Hoffman and offered him a contract. Once in Springfield, it did not take long for major league teams to take an interest in him and Hoffman eventually signed with the Philadelphia Athletics to play for Hall-of-Fame manager Connie Mack in 1903.

Daniel J. Hoffman in a Philadelphia Athletics baseball uniform, 1906 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Hoffman an Early Hit with Philadelphia Athletics

As the Athletics headed up to Boston to play the Red Sox in the summer of 1904, baseball experts considered Hoffman one of the more promising young players in the majors. When Hoffman (hitting a career-high .299 with three home runs) stepped to the plate against Red Sox left-hander Jesse Tannehill, however, an errant pitch struck Hoffman in the right eye, ending his season.

Back with the A’s in 1905, Hoffman’s statistics dropped off precipitously. He utilized his great speed to steal 46 bases that year, but he struggled against left-handed pitching—causing Mack to regularly pull Hoffman out of the lineup against lefties.

Hoffman lasted one more year with the A’s before joining the New York Highlanders (who later changed their name to the New York Yankees). He spent two relatively unproductive years in New York before joining the St. Louis Browns in 1908 and then ending his major league career 3 years later. Hoffman tried to make it back to the majors by playing for St. Paul of the American Association and then Wilkes-Barre of the New York State League, but his comeback ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Daniel J. Hoffman, St. Louis Browns, American Tobacco Company baseball card portrait, 1911 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Once-Promising Talent Sidelined by Injury

Life after baseball saw Hoffman become a resident of Bridgeport. Having invested his baseball earnings wisely, Hoffman resided in a beautiful home on Stratford Avenue in the city’s east end. He became a very popular figure in Bridgeport and at one point local residents and civic leaders encouraged him to purchase the city’s struggling Eastern-League baseball team, but Hoffman slowly began retreating from public life.

In 1921, he left Bridgeport to move in with his parents in Manchester. Local residents reported rarely seeing Hoffman in public after that. Seven months after the move, in March of 1922, the Hartford Courant reported that Hoffman had passed away at his parents’ home due to “a general breaking down in health.” He was just 42 years old.

Hartford All-Timer, Basilio Ortiz, ECSU Warrior Turned Professional

Basilio “Bo” Ortiz was a sensational outfielder who had power, speed, arm strength and defensive ability. He grew up on Charter Oak Terrace in Hartford, Connecticut, and attended Bulkeley High School. In his junior year, Ortiz led the Maroons in batting (.467), RBI (17), home runs (3) and stolen bases (8). He had similar numbers in his senior year as captain of the team and became the first Bulkeley baseball player to achieve All-State honors. By the end high school, his coach, Pete Kokinis called Ortiz, “One of the best to ever wear a Bulkeley baseball uniform.”

Basilio Oritz, Bulkeley High School, 1988.
Ortiz steals second, 1988.
Class LL All-State Team, 1988.

Ortiz was drafted out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the 40th round of the 1988 MLB June Amateur Draft. Instead of signing, he accepted a scholarship to Eastern Connecticut State University. After his freshman year at ECSU, Ortiz made waves in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for the Newington Capitols. Ortiz batted .333 during the 1998 twilight league season and earned the Rookie of the Year award.

Hartford Courant features Ortiz, March 28, 1990.

As a sophomore leadoff hitter in 1990, Ortiz batted a team-high .370 in postseason play. He helped the Warriors win seven straight tournament games for the 1990 NCAA Division-III national title. That year, he batted .434 with 76 hits, 68 runs, 11 home runs, 41 RBI and 134 total bases en route to 1st team Division-III All-America laurels. In the summer, Ortiz suited up for the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Basilio Ortiz, Eastern Connecticut State University, 1991.
Basilio Ortiz, Eastern Connecticut State University, 1991.

Then, as a junior at ECSU, the 5’11”, 170-pound Ortiz batted .448 with 78 hits, 12 home runs, 62 RBI, 62 runs and 138 total bases. Again he was awarded the NCAA Division-III National Player of the Year. Ortiz was also recognized as one of five New England Division-III Athletes of the Year. At the conclusion of his college career, head coach Bill Holowaty praised Ortiz as, “the best player we’ve ever had.”

Basilio Ortiz accepts New England College Athletic Conference award, 1991.

Ortiz was selected in the 30th round of the 1991 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. In the summer of 1991, Ortiz had a successful start in the pros. In 56 plate appearances, he hit .307 in rookie ball for the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. He was quickly promoted to Single-A with the Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League. Ortiz spent the next two years between Single-A on the Frederick Keys and Double-A on Bowie Baysox.

Basilio Ortiz, Bluefield Orioles, 1991.
Basilio Ortiz, Frederick Keys, 1992.
Basilio Ortiz, Frederick Keys, 1993.

The best season of “Bo” Ortiz’s professional career came in 1994 for Bowie Baysox of the Eastern League. He compiled a career high .309 batting average with 10 home runs, 56 RBI and an .860 OPS. Towards the end of the season, Ortiz was traded to the California Angels organization and reported to central Texas, to play for the Midland Angels. In 1996, he was named to the Texas League All-Star team. After an injury-riddled season in 1997 with the Harrisburg Senators of the Montreal Expos organization, Ortiz played his last 60 games as a professional.

Basilio Ortiz, Midland Angels, 1995.
Basilio Ortiz, Midland Angels, 1996.

In 2007, Basilio Ortiz was inducted into the Eastern Connecticut State University Athletics Hall of Fame. Ortiz is regarded as the best outfielder, and among the best position players in program history. Ortiz ranks thirteenth all-time at ECSU with 204 career hits in three years, second all-time in career batting average (.415), first in slugging percentage (.729), fifth in home runs (29) and runs (180), sixth in doubles (43), tied for sixth in stolen bases (63), and seventh in total bases (358).


Sources
1. Hartford Courant database on Newspapers.com
2. Baseball-Reference.com

The Hartford Twilight League Founder Who Brought Baseball To Bermuda

When Hartford was known as the Queen City of New England, the kingpin of its sports scene was Harry N. Anderson. He was a local promoter of athletics and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. Anderson established dozens of baseball leagues including the Hartford Twilight League in 1929. Most notably, he arranged the first amateur game played on foreign soil, a feat that landed his Hartford-based team in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Harry N. Anderson, 1906.

Born on February 5, 1885, Harry Anderson was the son of Danish immigrants. His father, Jeef H. “Dave” Anderson was an engineer at Underwood Typewriter. His mother, Mary C. Smedgaard died at 27, before young Harry’s first birthday. He came of age in the working class neighborhood of Frog Hollow where baseball was immensely popular. In 1899, Anderson earned his high school degree from the Brown School on Market Street in Hartford.

Harry N. Anderson (standing, right – mislabeled in caption) and the Christ Church Crusaders, Hartford, 1906.

Anderson organized his first baseball league, Hartford’s Church League, in the summer of 1904. Teams came from Church of the Good Shepherd, Trinity Church, St. John’s Episcopal and Christ Church. He was Church League president and player-manager of the Christ Church Crusaders. The Church League hosted annual awards banquet at Caldwell Hart Colt Memorial Parish House, frequently attended by Mayor William F. Henney and Gustave Fischer, organizer of the Factory League. Fischer owned a department store in Hartford, where Anderson gained employment selling sporting goods.

Caldwell Hart Colt Memorial Parish House, 1907
Gustave Fischer, Hartford businessman and sports promoter, 1907.

While in charge of the Church League, Anderson began a new entity called the Fraternal Baseball League in 1907. The loop had eight entries: YMCA, Masons, Elks, Moose, Red Men, Royal Arcanum, Knights of Columbus, Oddfellows and Pythias. Anderson was league president and part-time umpire. Games were played at the baseball field at Trinity College and on the newly established skin diamonds at Colt Park. When summer ended, he coordinated the Fraternal Bowling League made up of the same benevolent organizations.

Baseball field at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, 1907.

Harry Anderson was a man of many talents, personal connections and fraternal affiliations. He often directed and starred in musical performances in Hartford and East Hartford. He gave singing performances for local audiences and could play the cornet. He obtained memberships with the Freemasons, the International Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodman. Anderson was a charter member of Hartford’s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and president of the Laymen’s Association at Christ Church. In 1909, Anderson was nominated for City Council of Hartford’s Ninth Ward by Republican electors, but he declined to run for public office.

Harry N. Anderson, 1908.

Instead, Anderson dutifully joined the City Guard and the Governor’s Foot Guard. At a meeting at the State Armory in spring of 1909, he formed Hartford’s Military Baseball League. Delegates from the First Infantry, Second Division, Naval Militia and Connecticut National Guard attended. Lieutenant R. J. Goodman was elected league president and Romie B. Kuehns was chosen as secretary. The Military Baseball League played every Saturday at Colt Park. Company H won the pennant and later accepted a championship trophy in a ceremony at the State Armory.

R. J. Goodman, President, Military Baseball League, 1909.
Romie B. Kuehns, Secretary, Military Baseball League, 1909.

Anderson remained a constant in Hartford’s Republican Party for more than forty years. In 1910, he was master of ceremonies for Charles A. Goodwin’s gubernatorial campaign. However, Anderson spent more time pursuing athletics over politics. That same year, a local pitcher named Mike Sherman wrote a letter to the Hartford Courant demanding the formation of a league to determine a city champion amongst the many amateur clubs. Subsequently, the City Amateur Baseball League took shape. John Gunshanan, a former minor leaguer, was appointed president. Anderson was vice president. Hartford’s top players competed for the first City Amateur League title in 1911.

Charles A. Goodwin, 1910.
John Gunshanan, 1910.

On July 4, 1911, thousands of Hartford residents celebrated Independence Day by flocking to Colt Park and Pope Park to watch City Amateur League games. At the season’s end, Anderson planned a grand banquet at Hotel Vendome featuring local dignitaries like Mayor Edward L. Smith. The mayor reported that 1,431 permits were issued for baseball games in the city parks and that 100,000 people attended the games. Senators Edward W. Hooker presented Manager O’Connor of the Laurels with the City Amateur League trophy. Congressman Tom Reilly, owner of the Hartford Senators, James H. Clarkin and major leaguer “Big Ed” Walsh were expected but were unable to attend.

Hotel Vendome, Hartford, Connecticut, (c.) 1910.

Early in 1912, Anderson was president of the Hartford Amateur Basketball League and the Fraternal Bowling League. Then, to the surprise of many, he chartered a trip for Bermuda to promote tourism and amateur baseball. He first traveled alone via the Steam Ship Oceana from New York City to Bermuda’s capital of Hamilton. When he arrived, Anderson sent postcards to his sponsors, Gustave Fischer and a travel agent named H. R. Gridley. Anderson hatched plans for a series between local Bermudans and an all-star team from Hartford.

S. S. Oceana, New York-Bermuda Service, 1912.

When a reporter learned of the Bermuda excursion, he quipped that Anderson had probably organized an island police force because, “He regards as lost each week that he does not organize something.” Anderson came back to Hartford and described Bermuda as having a fine venue for baseball. According to his boss Gustave Fischer, Anderson was the most popular man in the city because his telephone was inundated by players seeking a trip to Bermuda. Anderson and manager Luke J. Crowe recruited Hartford’s best available amateurs to what was called the All-City League team. In the wintry weeks before their departure, the players conditioned and stretched their limbs at the State Armory.

Bermuda Invaders (Hartford All Stars) photographed in 1912.

On a snowy morning, Anderson and a group of twelve young men left Hartford’s Union Station en route for New York. Workers at Royal Typewriter waved and shouted goodbye from their factory windows. The team boarded the S. S. Oceana for a 48-hour voyage to Bermuda on March 8, 1912. To entertain players and passengers, Anderson orchestrated musical performances on the ship. When they reached the island, the Hartford men checked into the Imperial Hotel and strolled to the Hamilton Grounds—a cricket pitch that would double as a baseball field.

Cricket at the Hamilton Grounds, Bermuda, 1912.

Hartford’s All City League team opposed a club comprised of native Bermudans, hotel staff and ex-professionals of the International League. The initial matchup of the series became the first baseball game played by American amateurs outside of the United States. Hartford lost four of seven games to the Bermudans, but the team returned home as celebrities. Anderson’s all-star team became known as the “Bermuda Invaders” and their expedition encouraged the New York Yankees to host spring training there the following year.

Bermuda Invaders, 1912.

A well-traveled Harry Anderson reorganized the City Amateur League in 1912. At a meeting at the Workingmen’s Club Rooms on Affleck Street, the loop was split into two divisions; senior and junior. Eight clubs vied for the title including the Imperials who had several players from the Bermuda Invaders. Mayor Louis R. Cheney was appointed president and Anderson was vice president. Anderson was made marshal of the league’s Opening Day parade wherein fans cheered on managers, players and umpires who rode in automobiles to the field at Trinity College.

Harry N. Anderson, Vice President, City Amateur League, 1912.
Mayor Louis R. Cheney, President, City Amateur League, 1912.

Before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Mayor Cheney bestowed upon Anderson a set of resolutions commending his successful journey to Bermuda. By the end of the City Amateur League season, the Imperials seized first place in the Senior division, while the Campfields won the Junior division. A league-wide banquet at Harry Bond’s Cafe featured music by Bond’s Orchestra, introductory remarks by Anderson and a toast from State Senator Edward W. Hooker. The following year, Anderson installed Senator Hooker as honorary league president.

Harry Bond’s Cafe, Hartford, Connecticut, 1912.
State Senator Edward W. Hooker, 1913.

In 1913, Anderson and the Bermuda Invaders were featured in Spalding’s Official Metropolitan Base Ball Book. By then, Anderson was a beloved figure in Hartford and Connecticut’s most accomplished sports promoter. Therefore, when the Connecticut State League was organized, he was unanimously voted in as president. Unlike previous professional iterations of the Connecticut State League, this version was considered a semi-professional league. Seven contending clubs hailed from Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Wallingford, Windsor Locks and Winsted. Wallingford captured the league’s inaugural pennant.

Harry N. Anderson in Spalding’s Official Metropolitan Base Ball Book, 1913.
Spalding’s Official Metropolitan Base Ball Book, 1913.
Spalding’s Official Metropolitan Base Ball Book, 1913.

Anderson assembled another extravagant banquet for the Hartford’s amateur baseball community on October 30, 1913. Players and managers attended a night to remember at Bond’s Cafe where each table was decorated by electric light. Distinguished guests like former governor, Morgan G. Bulkeley and curveball pioneer, Candy Cummings gave accounts of their baseball careers. Mayor Louis R. Cheney welcomed special guest Danny Murphy, captain catcher of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. After dinner, speakers noted Hartford’s great vigor for the national game and championship clubs were presented with loving cups (trophies).

Morgan G. Bulkeley, 1913.
Candy Cummings, 1913.
Danny Murphy, 1913.

The City Amateur League and the Connecticut State League were operated simultaneously by Harry Anderson in 1914, though his annual banquet stole headlines. At Hotel Garde, the United Baseball Leagues of Hartford celebrated their seasons. Cups were presented to the pennant winners of the Fraternal League, Insurance League, Public Schools, City Amateur and Junior City leagues. The Franklin club, led by Manager Crowe and other members of the Bermuda Invaders won the City Amateur League title. The banquet was described at length in the Hartford Courant which adulated Anderson for his energy, “…in promoting the amateur leagues of the city, Chairman Anderson has a warm spot in the hearts of all the followers of the game in Hartford.”

Franklin Baseball Club, City Amateur League Champions, 1914.

In 1915, the Connecticut State League and President Anderson faced a crisis. First place Meriden and second place Torrington were dissatisfied with road game attendance. To draw more ticket sales, the two clubs withdrew from the league and planned a series of games with Winsted. Despite his efforts, Anderson was unable to hold the league together and the State League disbanded on August 29, 1915. Remaining team managers voted for Winsted as State League champions. A few weeks later, Anderson presented Winsted with the Gustave Fischer trophy at Gilbert Field.

Baseball at Colt Park, Hartford, 1913.
Harry N. Anderson, 1915

During baseball’s offseason, Anderson continued to organize and compete in the Fraternal Bowling League. He also arranged a boxing match for Hartford’s welterweight title. Anderson had become synonymous with Hartford sporting events, and his popularity reached new heights when Courant Cigars used his name in advertisements. The following year, he would be re-elected president of the Connecticut State League while remaining vice president of the City Amateur League.

Harry Anderson in Courant Cigar advertisement, 1915.
City Amateur League trophy, 1915.

In April of 1916, Anderson and members of the Bermuda Invaders celebrated the fifth anniversary of their expedition. The group officially formed the Original Bermuda Invaders Last Man’s Brotherhood to commemorate the feat. An article in the Hartford Courant stated: “The organization is probably the most unique in the annals of amateur sports. The sporting event was one of the greatest attempted by amateurs in the promotion of the great national game.” At that time, a trip to Bermuda was still considered a rarity.

Babe Clark, Hartford, 1916.
Rex Islieb, Hartford, 1916.
Roster of the Bermuda Invaders, 1916.

Harry Anderson was a voracious supporter of fraternal organizations and in summer of 1916, he created the Masonic Baseball League. The circuit was composed of Masonic lodges throughout Connecticut. As for his duties in Hartford, he was chairman of Hartford’s new Fourth of July Baseball Committee. His legwork led to well-attended benefit games in Colt Park aiding American troops in the Mexican Border War. The round robin series culminated with the Hartford Tigers beating Pratt & Whitney Company for the cup.

Yates, Hartford Tigers, City Amateur League, 1916.
Players in Hartford’s Industrial League, 1916.

While manufacturing boomed in Hartford due to World War I, the city’s Industrial Baseball League became immensely popular. As the loop’s part-time promoter, Anderson penned an article for Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide of 1917 featuring four pages on the Industrial League amateurs. After the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, Anderson hosted benefit games for Clark Griffith’s Bat and Ball Fund. The national campaign gifted baseball equipment to soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in Europe.

Inside cover of Spalding’s Base Ball Guide, 1917.

At the amateur banquet of 1917, Anderson, for his conscientious work in the success of Hartford baseball, was gifted a box seat ticket to each World Series game held in New York. As the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Giants at Brush Stadium, Anderson met with Clark Griffith to donate Hartford’s $30 check to the Bat and Ball Fund. Griffith later sent a letter addressed to the “Amateur Baseball Fraternity” of Hartford, and expressed his thanks writing, “I assure you it is appreciated and will be put to good use.”

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1917.
Clark Griffith, Manager, Washington Senators, 1917.

That winter, Anderson became president of the Industrial Bowling League, vice president of the Church Bowling League and captain of the Freemasons team in the Fraternal Bowling League. Sports of all kinds were interrupted in 1918, and Anderson prepared to support the allied war effort. He was recruited by Christopher Scaife of the YMCA to be a recreation supervisor in England and France. Anderson was to serve thousands of American troops in an auxiliary capacity by staging athletic competitions and live entertainment. Even though an armistice was reached on November 11, 1918, many Americans participated in military activities in Europe until 1923.

Officers of the Church Bowling League of Hartford, 1918.

Before active duty with the YMCA, Anderson hosted another Fourth of July celebration at Colt Park starring a team of Navy sailors from Hartford. Then, Anderson completed training courses in Springfield, Massachusetts, and French classes at Columbia University. He shipped out to Europe in December of 1918, sending greetings from Winchester, England, upon his arrival. In Winchester, he was stationed at Morn Hill Troop Transit Camp, a 50,000-man base near the port of Southhampton. Here, Anderson facilitated athletic contests, comedic routines and musical performances to boost morale of deploying troops and those returning from the Western Front.

Navy Sailors from Hartford with Harry N. Anderson, 1918.
Morn Hill Troop Transit Camp, Winchester, England, 1918.
Morn Hill Troop Transit Camp, Winchester, England, 1918.

On New Years Day, 1919, Anderson was in Paris, France, to meet friends from home and unintentionally began a long-lasting tradition. He reserved a lavish dinner at Hotel Regina for twelve civilians from Hartford serving as attachés to the AEF. Among the guests was Daniel D. Bidwell, a war correspondent who held the record for circumventing the globe in less than 47 days. The group adopted the name “Hartford Exiles” because of their auxiliary status. The Exiles pledged to hold annual New Years reunions back home, where the group became a prominent fraternal order into which qualified members were initiated each year.

Hotel Regina, Paris, France, 1919.

While in France, Anderson spent most of his time stationed in the province of Brittany at the coastal town of Dinard. It was a place of rest and relaxation for weary soldiers and sailors. Anderson arrived in Dinard during February of 1919, and he quickly became known for his continuous program of baseball games on the beach, boxing bouts, stunt nights, concerts and comedy routines promoted on the bulletin of the Grand Casino. Anderson mailed a game-used baseball back to Hartford from a contest won by the 26th Infantry “Yankee Division.” In his letter, Anderson wrote that the ball would be “ammunition” for Hartford’s part in the United States Victory Loan campaign.

The beach at Grand Casino, Dinard, France, 1919.

Anderson received praise and letters of appreciation for his exemplary service as recreation supervisor in France. When he put together a final track meet between American and French soldiers, the French Commander of Dinard, Colonel Garson presented Anderson with a gold medallion. Before leaving Dinard for the port city of Brest, the Mayor of Dinard awarded Anderson with a citation for “promoting Franco-American relations.” Towards the end of his duties in France, Anderson represented the State of Connecticut while visiting several military cemeteries near the front lines of the war.

The 26th Infantry Division baseball team, Dinard, France, 1919.

One of Anderson’s greatest accomplishments came at the Inter-Allied Games. The multi-sport event commenced on June 22, 1919, at the newly constructed Pershing Stadium on the outskirts of Paris, France. Anderson collaborated with YMCA, AEF and French officials to arrange and promote the games. Competitions included track and field, swimming, soccer, baseball, wrestling, hand-grenade throwing and others. The games were open solely to men who served in the war. Around 1,500 athletes participated from 18 different countries. Following the games, Pershing Stadium, a 25,000-seat facility was gifted to the people of France by the United States.

Postcard promoting the Inter-Allied Games, 1919.
An Inter-Allied Games ticket, Pershing Stadium, Paris, France, 1919.
About Inter-Allied Games, Pershing Stadium, Paris, France, 1919.
Pershing Stadium, Joinville-Le-Pont, Paris, France, 1919.

Anderson came home to Hartford in August of 1919. When he resumed civilian life, he gave talks to Hartford audiences about his experiences in Europe. Next, he was invited to Washington D.C. by Congressman Augustine Lonergan where Anderson advocated for and witnessed the passage of a bill incorporating the American Legion. Then, he was offered a position in Poland by the YMCA, but Anderson had other plans. An affection for Hartford and a fervor for sports promotion led him to establish the Anderson Sporting Goods Company at 721 Main Street—a business that would last until the 1940’s.

Congressman Augustine Lonergan, Connecticut, 1919.
Harry N. Anderson returns to Hartford after the war, 1919.

On New Years Day of 1920, the Hartford Exiles commemorated their Paris dinner with the same four-course meal at Hotel Garde on Asylum Street. Anderson was affectionately appointed “Commandant” of the Exiles and Governor of Connecticut Everett J. Lake was initiated as an honorary member. Around that time, Anderson also served as business manager of the Christ Church newsletter, the “Evangelist” and was vice president of the Inter-church Basketball League. He then introduced the Hartford County Baseball League in the springtime. The new loop fielded teams from Hartford, Bloomfield, Glastonbury, Wethersfield, Windsor and Simsbury, who won the inaugural title.

Hartford Exiles at Hotel Garde, Hartford, Connecticut – L to R: Fred B. Innes, James E. Rhodes, Harry N. Anderson, Michael J. Morkan, William H. Vennart and Daniel D. Bidwell, 1920.
Simsbury, Hartford County Baseball League champions, 1920.

At the end of the summer of 1920, Anderson plotted a best-of-three charity baseball series at Trinity College. He persuaded the Hartford Police Department and the Hartford Fire Department to matchup against each other. The municipal bodies played to benefit Camp Courant, Times Farm and the Home for Crippled Children in Newington, Connecticut. Sergeant John M. Henry, a former outfielder for John McGraw’s New York Giants, was player-manager for the Hartford Police. Hartford Fire earned two wins to take the series. In the winter of 1920, Anderson also experimented with a short-lived roller polo league (similar to hockey) based in Hartford.

A cartoon depicting Anderson sparking a rivalry between Hartford Police and Hartford Fire, 1920.
Hartford Fire Department baseball club, 1920.

In 1921, Anderson opted for regional sports as head of the Hartford County Basketball League and the Hartford County Baseball League. He also became president of the Municipal Service Baseball League while assisting other amateur loops like the City Independent League and the Allied Insurance and Bankers League. In November, Anderson was invited back to Washington D.C. to represent Hartford at the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Around the holidays, he attended a Christmas dinner at the State Armory dressed as Santa Claus, amusing over seven hundred military veterans.

Burial of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery, 1921.
Harry N. Anderson (center, dressed as Santa Claus) at Christmas Dinner at Connecticut State Armory, 1921.

The following year, Anderson once again played a critical part in Hartford’s Independence Day celebrations. This time, he helped to organize a relay race dubbed the Courant Marathon. The footrace started at Duke of Cumberland Inn (John Robbins House) on Old Main Street in Rocky Hill where George Washington had stayed during the American Revolution. The finish line was set in front of Connecticut’s Old State House. Anderson and Mayor Richard J. Kinsella were judges of Hartford’s first large-scale footrace.

Mayor Richard J. Kinsella issues special permit for Hartford Courant Marathon, 1922.
Mayor Richard J. Kinsella and Harry N. Anderson present Hartford Courant Marathon trophies at the Old State House, 1922.

In 1923, Anderson served as general chairman of Hartford’s annual Bowling Carnival, an event he had begun two years prior. Hundreds of bowlers competed from morning to midnight at Casino Alley on Asylum Street. The carnival honored George Washington’s birthday and amassed $420 for Camp Courant, Times Farm and the Newington Home for Crippled Children. In May, Anderson appeared in city court only to lose a lawsuit against the Connecticut Boulevard Amusement Company over a complete set of baseball equipment worth $187. When summer arrived, he presided over the Insurance-Bankers League and sat on the committee of the next Courant Marathon.

Hartford Courant Marathon, 1923.

Harry Anderson’s Danish-born father, Jeef H. “Dave” Anderson passed away at 80 years old on August 1, 1923. Perhaps to remember his father, Anderson invited to Hartford a renowned gymnastics instructor from Denmark named Niels Bukh and his team of athletes. Once referred to as the “Walter Camp of Europe” Bukh was a Danish national hero for his advancements in physical education. Anderson oversaw Bukh’s performance at the State Armory featuring thirty gymnasts stretching and contorting in unison. He praised Bukh for, “…producing a remarkable type of athlete from the most unpromising material as was evidenced at the Antwerp Olympic Games.”

Niel Bukh’s Danish Gymnasts at State Armory, Hartford, Connecticut, 1923

Then, in recognition of Armistice Day, Anderson recited an original poem on local radio entitled “We’ve Come Back to You.” On New Years Day, 1924, he was toastmaster of the Hartford Exiles’ sixth reunion at Hotel Garde. After organizing another profitable Bowling Carnival, Anderson learned of his appointment to the United States Olympic Committee. He graciously accepted and planned to attend the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Anderson witnessed the United States achieve a medal count of 32, nearly twice that of the next country, Finland. While in France, Anderson revisited Dinard, where he received a royal welcome and was awarded the Legion of Honor; France’s highest distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

Harry N. Anderson (right) and the Hartford Exiles, 1924.
Stade Olympique de Colombes, Paris, 1924.

When he returned home, Anderson reported that 45 nations competed with sportsmanship. He predicted international amity among nations would arise from the Olympics. In 1925, Anderson’s experience earned him a new role as Hartford County commissioner of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). He sent Hartford’s Dixie basketball team to a national tournament in Kansas City. However, Anderson was discovered to have broken AAU gifting rules and was fired. His ousting was a rare public embarrassment, but he quickly bounced back as President of the Farmington Valley Baseball League and the Farmington Valley Basketball League.

Anderson Sporting Goods Co advertisement, 1924.

In 1926, a former member of the Bermuda Invaders and associate editor of the Terre Haute Star, Frank A. Hollis offered Anderson a change of scenery as recreation director in Terre Haute, Indiana. However, Anderson stayed loyal to Hartford and dove into recreating the City Independent League. He leaned on league secretary and chief umpire, Walter Elliot to conduct administrative duties. Eight baseball clubs manned by Hartford’s top amateurs took to the diamonds in Colt Park. Mayor Norman Stevens tossed the ceremonial first pitch at Opening Day and by the end of the season, the New Departure Endees of Elmwood had won their second straight championship.

Hartford Exiles at Hotel Garde, Hartford, Connecticut, 1926.
Walter Elliot and Harry N. Anderson of the City Independent League, 1926.

Harry Anderson, a true jack-of-all-trades, was re-elected president of the Syria Grotto Band in 1927. The band was comprised of some of the best jazz musicians in Hartford. Anderson’s artistic pursuits, athletic promotions and sporting goods store made him one of the city’s most publicized figures. In many respects, Hartford relied on Anderson for his skillful leadership. He was a busy man, but always found time for annual gatherings like the fifteenth anniversary banquet of the Bermuda Invaders and the seventh annual Charity Bowling Carnival at the Hartford YMCA.

YMCA Bowling Alley, Hartford, 1927.
Charity Bowling Carnival, Hartford, 1927.

In late May of 1927, Anderson arranged a parade down Main Street to celebrate the national game. The event was known as Hartford Boys’ Baseball Day and featured a special guest: Commissioner of Major League Baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis attended the parade, sat near the finish line at the Hartford Times Building and watched 5,000 marching youngsters. Landis wished the Hartford boys, “…all the luck in the world, but bear in mind, that a good sport plays according to the rules, and to some extent, makes his own luck.” Also on hand for the festivities were Mayor Norman Stevens, former ace of the Cincinnati Reds Stockings, George Wright, owner of the Hartford Senators, James H. Clarkin and President of the Eastern League, Herman J. Weisman. 

Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 1925 (c.)
G. Fox advertisement in the Hartford Courant, 1927.

Later that year, Harry Anderson founded the World Series Club, an organization still in operation today. Anderson was an avid attendee of the World Series since 1917. While attending the 1927 series, Anderson and nineteen other Hartford men formed the club at Hotel Knickerbocker in New York City. Membership was open to Hartford residents who had attended at least one World Series. Club members included Mayor Norman Stevens, Art B. McGinley, Hartford Times sports editor, Albert W. Keane, Hartford Courant sports editor and Raymond Rutledge, a former pitcher of the Cleveland Indians. As for the outcome of the World Series, Babe Ruth and Lou Gerhig of “Murderer’s Row” swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games to propel the Yankees to a world championship.

Hotel Knickerbocker, New York, New
York, 1927.
Paul Waner, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Lloyd Waner at the 1927 World Series.

Anderson then became president and part-time referee of the Farmington Valley Basketball League in early 1928. He chaired a committee to bring two hundred track and field athletes to the State Armory in mid-March, for the Massasoit Athletic Club Track Meet. At the event, Olympic sprinter Frank Hussey cracked the World Record for the 70-yard dash. By April, Anderson announced his intentions to direct Hartford’s Bankers Baseball League with Walter Elliot as his right-hand man. Arrangements were made at Anderson Sporting Goods and disseminated to local newspapers.

Knights of Lithuania, Farmington Valley Basketball League champions, 1928.
Indoor Track Meet at State Armory, Hartford, 1928.
State Armory, Hartford, Connecticut, 1928 (c.)

Before baseball season got underway, Anderson and members of the World Series Club welcomed to the city, new owners of the Hartford Senators. On Opening Day, April 18, 1928 at Bulkeley Stadium, Anderson presented the Eastern League club with a horseshoe-shaped floral bouquet. The flowers were thought to have given the Senators good fortune in their win over the Bridgeport Bears. A few weeks later, Anderson arranged the Farmington Valley Baseball League consisting of teams from Simsbury, New Britain, Windsor, East Hartford, East Glastonbury and Thompsonville.

In July of 1928, Harry Anderson was given a post on the American Olympic Committee. Anderson was a key member of the United States team’s statistical staff. He traveled from Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the Steam Ship Veendam of the Holland-American line to Amsterdam, Netherlands. He represented Hartford overseas for 16 days at the Summer Games. The 1928 Amsterdam Olympics marked the first continuous lighting of the Olympic Flame. On his return, Anderson received a testimonial dinner at Hotel Garde put on by local luminaries. Mayor Walter E. Batterson presided as toastmaster and lauded Anderson for his 25 years of service to Hartford sports.

Summer Olympics, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1928.
Betty Robinson, a 16-year-old American high school student, wins the 100-meter Dash at Summer Olympics, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1928.

On New Years Day, 1929, Anderson and the Hartford Exiles marked their tenth anniversary at The Hartford Club on Prospect Street. It was the first Exiles dinner at which wives of members were allowed to attend. Perhaps Anderson’s most notable accomplishment of 1929 was his participation at the fourteenth National Convention of Disabled American Veterans of War, a cause for which he cared deeply. He also remained chairman of the charity Bowling Carnival benefitting Camp Courant, a day camp for Hartford children.

City Bank Baseball, Hartford, Connecticut, 1929.
Hartford Delegates at the National Convention of Disabled American Veterans of World War, 1929.

Harry Anderson, Hartford’s unofficial patriarch of amateur baseball, took charge of Hartford’s Public Service Baseball League in 1929. At the start of July, he formed a new iteration of the City Independent Twilight League in a meeting at Anderson’s Sporting Goods. Teams competed at Colt Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays using “Spalding official rules” to govern the league. Hartford’s best teams participated such as: the Wolverines, McKinley Athletics, Holy Name, Economy Grocery, Bill Battey’s Spartans and Cardinal Athletic Club. Anderson was first president of the loop that eventually evolved into today’s Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League.

Harry N. Anderson, President of Public Service Baseball League, 1929.

At 45 years old, Anderson was a loyal patriot with enthusiasm for serving his community. In return for his 25 years of dedication to athletics in Hartford, city officials and dignitaries threw Anderson a testimonial dinner at Hotel Garde. On November 18, 1929, seven organized baseball leagues made up for most of the 175 dinner guests. Mayor Walter Batterson acted as toastmaster and famous football official Ed Thorp was keynote speaker. Other attendees included boxing star, Bat Battalino and Hartford Senators outfielder, Skee Watson. Anderson made an address of appreciation, and then handed out official Spalding trophies to the winners of each amateur league.

Harry N. Anderson’s 25 Years of Hartford Sports Anniversary Jubilee, 1929.

In 1930, Anderson became director of the Camp Courant Fund. Along with athletics and entertainment, fundraising for Camp Courant was Anderson’s life’s work. Nearly every year from 1920 until his passing in 1954, Anderson served as chairman of the annual Charity Bowling Carnival, directly benefiting the children at Camp Courant. Afterwards, he resumed responsibilities for the United States Olympic Committee. Anderson and committee members convened on Washington D.C. to devise plans for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, California.

Hartford Exiles banquet at Hotel Garde, 1930.
Charity Bowling Carnival, Hartford, Connecticut, 1930.
Syria Grotto Band, 1930.
Industrial League Opening Day, John Borrup General Superintendent of Pratt & Whitney Co. and Harry N. Anderson (right), Colt Park, Hartford, May 22, 1930.
Harry N. Anderson (third from left), United States Olympic Committee, Washington D.C. 1930.

An increasingly busy Anderson turned over president duties role of the Hartford Twilight League to John A. Barrett after one year. The Savitt Gems became city champions of 1930 by defeating Holy Name at Bulkeley Stadium. At the Gems victory banquet, players listened to a congratulatory speech from Anderson while enjoying a lobster dinner. Bill Savitt was awarded with the championship trophy while each player received championship rings. The Gems would go on to become Hartford’s most revered semi-professional team until 1945.

1930 Savitt Gems

That same summer, Anderson had made arrangements with a previous contact: Washington’s owner Clark Griffith. They scheduled a benefit game between the Washington Senators and a team of Eastern League All-Stars on September 23, 1930. Prices were 75 cents for grandstand seating, 50 cents for bleachers and 25 cents for children. Ticket proceeds were donated to the Hartford Chapter of Disabled American Veterans. Famous showmen Al Schacht and Nick Altrock were also on hand to perform comedy routines between innings.

1930 Washington Senators

Amid the Great Depression, Anderson’ philanthropic attitude persisted in Hartford and beyond. In February of 1931, over 700 bowlers entered Anderson’s Charity Blowing Carnival. The biggest attraction of the event was the women’s team from Albany, New York, who defeated a picked team of men from the Hartford Big Pin League. The proceeds of the carnival went to the care of underprivileged children of Camp Courant and Time Farm. A few months later, Anderson took part in the Connecticut Delegation at the 11th National Convention of Disabled Veterans of World War in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

23rd Annual Charity Bowling Carnival, 1931.
Connecticut Delegation to National Convention of Disabled Veterans of World War, 1931.

In August of 1931, Anderson showcased two former Olympic swimmers, Aileen Riggin and Helen Wainwright in Hartford. They competed at the pool at Capitol Park, an amusement park off of Wethersfield Avenue. One week later, Anderson accompanied two world champion boxers to meet the kids at Camp Courant; Christopher “Bat” Battalino, reigning world featherweight champion and Sammy Mandell, former lightweight champion. Anderson knew Battalino particularly well because it was Bat’s seventh consecutive visit to Camp Courant. The boxing pair awed campers with a boxing demonstration and their words of encouragement were met with loud three cheers.

Harry N. Anderson (second from left) at Camp Courant, 1931.
Bat Battalino Day at Camp Courant with Harry N. Anderson (center), 1931.

Next, Anderson was selected by former World Series champion Leslie Mann to the board of directors of the new United States Amateur Baseball Association, known today as the American Amateur Baseball Congress. Anderson was charged with determining Connecticut’s top amateur team of 1931 for a regional tournament at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He directed a four team playoff at Bulkeley Stadium wherein the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church baseball club of Hartford were the victors. St. Paul’s, led by the Dixon brothers Robert, George and John, then beat an opponent from Stafford Springs to win the state title, but they would lose in the regional tournament.

Leslie Mann, United States Amateur Baseball Association. 1931.
St. Paul’s Luthern Church baseball team, Hartford, Connecticut, 1931.

On New Years Day, 1932, the Hartford Exiles celebrated their 13th reunion banquet at Hotel Garde. Soon thereafter, Anderson was planning for the 12th annual Bowling Carnival. In a progressive move, he invited women bowlers to join in on the action. Crack women teams from Albany, New York and Allentown, Pennsylvania, impressed the men. Anderson then named a woman to the Bowling Carnival committee; Mary E. J. Lally of the Hartford Courant. $214 was donated to Camp Courant on behalf of Anderson’s Bowling Carnival.

Hartford Exiles at Hotel Garde, Hartford, Connecticut, 1932.
Harry N. Anderson (center), Chairman of the 24th annual Bowling Carnival, Hartford, Connecticut, 1932.

In March of 1932, Anderson and the Bermuda Invaders toasted to their 20th anniversary. Most of the team attended the occasion and Lewis R. Cheney, Mayor of Hartford at the time of the trip, was guest of honor. Then in April, Anderson arranged basketball benefit games, bringing in $164 to the Mayor’s Unemployment Relief Fund. In May, Anderson leaned on his contacts with the United States Olympic Committee to expose Hartford to track and field stars of the day. He tapped Paul de Bruyn, a German athlete and the first international winner of the Boston Marathon to make a public appearance for the Travelers Men’s Club at “Sports Night” at Foot Guard Hall.

Charity Bowling Carnival Committee entertain as band at Camp Courant, 1932.

Then, in preparation of the 1932 Summer Games in Los Angeles, Anderson promoted the “Olympic Games Benefit Night” at Capitol Park. The event fundraised for the United States Olympic team and featured multiple state championship boxing matches. Governor of Connecticut Wilbur L. Cross attended as the guest of honor. On July 24, 1932, Anderson left for Los Angeles by train. After departing, he was followed by a contingent of young men traveling in a dilapidated truck. In Anderson, Hartford fans had a direct link to the Olympics.

American athletes of the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, 1932.

When Harry Anderson returned from Los Angeles, he told various gatherings about his Olympic experiences. He remarked that unexpected victories were the most thrilling of contests. Unanticipated outcomes of came when Helene Madison won three gold medals in swimming, Eddie Tolan earned two gold medals in sprinting and Babe Didrikson wrested two gold medals in javelin and hurdles. Also known as “Games of the X Olympiad” the 1932 Games marked the first Olympic Village built for athletes, which became a model for the future.

Babe Didrikson throwing javelin, Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, 1932.

The Summer Games were held from July 30 to August 15, 1932. Motion pictures from the games were distributed throughout the world. Anderson brought one of the films home to Hartford and screened it to local audiences and fraternal organizations. Among the scenes depicted in the film was Tolan’s photo finish victory. Anderson recounted that the Olympiad turned a profit for the first time since Athens in 1896. During his presentations he also noted that Germany would host the Olympics in 1936, then Japan would bear the torch in 1940.

Americans, Ed Tolan (left) and Ralph Metcalfe (right) finish first and second in 100 meter dash, 1932.

In April of 1933, Anderson served as a pallbearer for his friend Ted WInis who passed away in a tragic automobile accident. Winis was a well-liked 3 year old Assistant Sports Editor of the Hartford Times. On a lighter note, Anderson was assigned a new task by the mayor a few weeks later. He headed Hartford’s welcome committee of an American aviator, Wiley Post; the first pilot to fly solo around the world. Anderson and a few thousand spectators enthusiastically welcomed Post and his plane the “Winnie Mae” at Brainard Field. Before the year’s end, Anderson presided over the largest assembly of the World Series Club to date at Hotel Wellington in New York City.

World Series Club annual banquet at Hotel Wellington, New York, New York, 1933.
Hotel Wellington, New York, New York, 1933.
Harry N. Anderson (third from right) delivers Christmas gifts to veterans, 1933.

Next, in 1934, Anderson traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas for spring training. He accompanied Mickey Lambert, a scout from Unionville, Connecticut who often visited Hot Springs with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association owned by former Hartford Senators manager, Bob “Tom” Connery. Lambert was a personal friend of Babe Ruth, who began the concept of Spring Training in Hot Springs. No known record exists of Ruth meeting Anderson, though he would later represent Hartford at Ruth’s funeral. That summer, Anderson rallied a new City Independent League and recruited former mayor, Walter Batterson to be honorary president.

Ed Brown, Bill Savitt, Max Savitt & Harry N. Anderson award silver baseballs to Camp Courant All-Star team, 1934.
L to R: Mickey Lambert, Tom Connery and Harry N. Anderson Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1935.

While head of the City Independent League, Anderson acted as part-time umpire for old-timer games put on by Albert G. Kamm and his Yesteryear Stars. Meanwhile, Anderson also pursued improvements at Colt Park including a new baseball stadium. The City of Hartford approved park improvements at the behest of Anderson, police captain John Henry and umpire chief, John A. DeRidder. Construction of the stadium was funded by the New Deal’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration and overseen by Recreation Supervisor James H. Dillon. Municipal Stadium was completed in June of 1935 and later became known as Dillon Stadium after renovations in 1956.

John A. DeRidder, Hartford Umpire Chief, 1935.
Opening Day at Municipal Stadium, Colt Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 1935.

Anderson attended Opening Day at Municipal Stadium on June 29, 1935. Pregame ceremonies began with a parade led by Mayor Joseph W. Beach and Superintendent of Parks, George H. Hollister. Marching bands and ballplayers walked in formation from the new swimming pool to the new stadium where officials hoisted an American flag up a flagpole. Spectators witnessed the first Hartford Twilight League game of the season between the Tuckel Rhymers and Check Bread. The stadium had aprofessional caliber playing surface, large bleachers lining foul territory and high board fencing surrounding the outfield. In addition to baseball, the 5,000-person venue accommodated football games and track and field competitions.

Harry N. Anderson and volunteers deliver gifts to veterans, Hartford, Connecticut, 1935.

On March 11, 1936, the Connecticut River flooded, devastating Municipal Stadium and the city of Hartford. Anderson, the dean of Hartford sports, sprang into action. He headed a charity basketball tournament backed by Mayor Thomas J. Spellacy to collect donations for the Red Cross. In May, Anderson was named director of the Hartford County YMCA athletic organization. Then in June, he announced a $100 donation to Camp Courant from his annual Charity Bowling Carnival. Anderson fulfilled his many obligations while preparing for his role with the United States Olympic Committee at the upcoming games in Berlin, Germany.

Flooding of Connecticut River in Hartford, 1936.

Alongside the United States Olympic team, Anderson headed to Germany aboard the steamship Manhattan in New York City on July 15, 1936. The head of the United States Olympic Committee was the notorious Avery Brundage. During the voyage to Germany, some of the athletes engaged in drinking on board. The American favorite for the 100-meter backstroke, Eleanor Holm Jarrett was dismissed for excessive drinking, though she later accused Brundage of partiality. When the ship arrived in Hamburg, Anderson sent postcards to friends in Hartford, including a card to 600 kids at Camp Courant.

Harry N. Anderson (top, right), American Olympic Committee, Berlin, Germany, 1936.

The Berlin-based XI Olympiad began on August 1, 1936, and lasted fifteen days. Nazi Germany hosted the iconic Olympic Games where the world came to know Jesse Owens. The American track star won four gold medals and helped his relay team set a 400-meter world record. Harry Anderson endorsed Owens and the United States team as “the best ever.” He had positive words for Berlin as a hospitable and clean city. Unbeknownst to Anderson and attendees at the Berlin Games, Adolph Hitler and fascists in Europe would cause the catastrophe of World War II.

Jesse Owens, wins 4 gold medals at Berlin Olympics, 1936.
Harry N. Anderson (seated, left) at YMCA Olympic Dinner, Hartford, Connecticut, 1936.
United States team who earned 400-meter relay gold medal, 1936.

When he made it back to the United States, Anderson had motion pictures sent to Hartford so he could share his fourth Olympic Games. Now in his fifties, Anderson stayed busy by keeping up with friends, conducting annual and showing footage from the Berlin Olympics. Towards the end of 1936, he stepped down as president of the World Series Club. Shortly thereafter, he closed his sporting goods business and eyed retirement. He continued his charitable work with the Charity Bowling Carnival in 1937. The event was called the largest duckpin bowling tournament in the country. Weeks later, Anderson marked the twenty-fifth anniversary banquet of the Bermuda Invaders.

Harry N. Anderson (standing, center) at the annual Charity Bowling Carnival, Hartford, Connecticut, 1937.
Camp Courant baseball champions banqueting with Harry N. Anderson (seated, far right), 1937.

In the fall of 1937, Anderson assisted in the establishment a new organization dubbed Veteran Baseball Players Association. The group of players, managers, umpires and officials was created to promote and preserve the game while supporting aged baseball men experiencing poverty or illness. Members were required to be at least forty years of age. Former Hartford ballplayer Albert G. Kamm was elected president while Anderson was second in command. The Veteran Baseball Players Association hosted old-timers games, charitable events, banquets and conventions.

Harry N. Anderson, 1938.
L to R: Rudy C. Hansen, A.J. Clements and Harry N. Anderson discuss upcoming 1940 Olympics, Clarkhurst Ranch East Hampton, Connecticut, 1938.

By 1938, the veterans association had about 300 members in 14 different states. To promote the association, Anderson and Kamm assembled old-timer games. On one occasion, Anderson dressed up as Abner Doubleday, alleged founder of baseball, and umpired an old-timer game played in the nineteenth century style of the New York Knickerbockers. At another contest, former big leaguer “Big Ed” Walsh of Meriden, Connecticut, appeared with the Yesteryear Stars at Bulkeley Stadium. Eventually, the Wives and Daughters of Veteran Baseball Players Association was established to support women.

Harry N. Anderson, 1938.
Courant Championship Baseball Team at Hotel Bond with Bill Savitt and Harry N. Anderson, 1938.
“Big Ed” Walsh, 1938.

As part of baseball’s hundredth birthday of celebration in 1939, the ultimate distinction was bestowed upon Harry Anderson and the Bermuda Invaders. Bob Quinn, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame invited them to a special ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. At the Hall of Fame, Quinn unveiled a citation declaring the Invaders the first amateur team to compete on foreign soil. Anderson handed over a team photograph taken in 1912 to curator William Beattie, who hung it on the wall. They were officially the first amateurs recognized by the Hall of Fame in baseball history.

Bob Quinn, Director, National Baseball Hall of Fame, 1939.
L to R: Rex Islieb, Charles Palmberg, William Beattie, Harry N. Anderson, Ted Marenholtz (captain), Mortimer Bacon and Adam Purves, Jr. – The Bermuda Invaders give team photograph to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York, 1939.

Anderson’s Hall of Fame glory was a fitting capstone on his prolific baseball career. Even still, he sought out new objectives, impactful projects and timely crusades. Ever the humble and faithful servant to Hartford’s Christ Church Cathedral, he served on the Christ Church Cathedral campaign. Later, during the Christmas season of 1939, Anderson and other volunteers distributed gifts and food to Hartford’s war veterans. Throughout his adult life, he set aside time nearly every Christmas to deliver yule tidings, most often in a Santa Claus costume.

Harry N. Anderson (standing, right) part of the Christ Church Cathedral Campaign, 1939.
Harry N. Anderson (center) at Washington’s Birthday Charity Bowling Carnival at Capitol Alleys, Hartford, Connecticut, 1939.

Anderson began 1940 as toastmaster of the Hartford Exiles reunion. He welcomed Congressman William J. Miller of Connecticut’s First Congressional district to the Exiles. Miller was eligible to join the Exiles due to his service with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. during World War I. About a month later, Anderson and the Charity Bowling Carnival committee awarded gold watches to youngsters at Camp Courant for good citizenship. Later that year, Anderson assumed the role of Chairman for the Veteran Baseball Players Association. He delegated responsibility of the annual convention to association members in Torrington, Connecticut.

Congressman William J. Miller, 1939.
Hartford Exiles annual banquet, 1940.
Harry N. Anderson of the Hartford Exiles, 1940.
Mayor Spellacy and Harry N. Anderson visit Camp Courant, 1940.

Ongoing Nazi aggression abroad caused American communities like Hartford to react with shock and concern. Anderson and the Hartford Exiles were eerily reminded of the German menace of World War I. The Exiles initiated sitting Governor Raymond E. Baldwin into the order on New Years Day, 1941. Governor Baldwin gave an eloquent speech exclaiming, “America now needs our loyalty, our energy and our courage more than ever before; let us all go forward with courage, united.” The banquet drew a record number of attendees whom Anderson invited back to feast around the “H” shaped table for the ensuing year.

Hartford Exiles, 1941.
Raymond E. Baldwin, Governor of Connecticut, 1941.

During the fall of 1941, Anderson made renowned first baseman Johnny Evers, Governor Robert A. Hurley and United States Representative James A. Shanley of New Haven honorary vice presidents of the Veteran Baseball Players Association. Two years prior, Anderson had lobbied Congressman Shanley to submit a resolution to the United States House of Representatives outlining the concept of National Baseball Day. With the full backing of Anderson and the veterans association, Congressman Shanley took up the crusade once again in 1941, but no legislation was passed. Anderson intended National Baseball Day to be an observance honoring the game and its supposed Civil War era forefather, Major General Abner Doubleday.

Congressman James A. Shanley, with his son James A. Shanley Jr., 1939 (c.)

Because Doubleday’s parents once lived in Lebanon, Connecticut, before relocating to Ballston Spa, New York, Anderson surmised a direct link between Doubleday and Connecticut. Therefore, Anderson thought it fitting for a congressmen from Connecticut to introduce a resolution for National Baseball Day. He chose Doubleday’s birthday, June 26, as the date of observance. Anderson conspired with politicians to get National Baseball Day enacted into law and spent his final fifteen years advocating for the cause.

Major General Abner Doubleday, 1865 (c.)

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 22, 1941, Hartford’s young men prepared for military service. Meanwhile, Anderson provided Hartford residents with a diversion at the lanes. As president of the Greater Hartford Big Pin Bowling League in 1942, he was tasked with organizing one of the most competitive bowling leagues in Connecticut. Colt Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing and United Aircraft Corporation entered teams into the big pin league. That year, Anderson also volunteered as a committee member of the 61st Republican precinct.

Hartford Exiles, 1942.

Anderson soon made significant headway towards implementing National Baseball Day. On March 20, 1943, a letter and a copy of Anderson’s resolution and was received by the White House. Congressman William J. Miller of the Hartford Exiles had sent the letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of Anderson and the Veteran Baseball Players Association. Miller highlighted the potential war chest benefits of establishing National Baseball Day:

William J. Miller, U.S. Representative from Connecticut, 1943.

“It might be possible to tie this observance in with the sale of war bonds and stamps. I believe it would be possible to secure the cooperation of the Commissioner of baseball, officials of the major and minor leagues, along with a couple of thousand of men who are interested in sandlot baseball throughout the country. If the Treasury Department, through the offices of those engage in promoting the sale of war bonds and stamps, would cooperate in the effort, I believe that the baseball fans of the United States would purchase substantially over $1 billion worth of bonds and stamps on that one day.”

William J. Miller, U.S. Representative
Letter to President Roosevelt about National Baseball Day from Congressman Miller, 1943.

No written response came from President Roosevelt, who was busy commanding American forces in World War II. When Congressman Miller presented National Baseball Day to Congress, the bill died on the House floor. However, Harry Anderson persevered. After marking the 30th anniversary of the Bermuda Invaders, Anderson and Hartford’s Chapter No. 1 of the Veteran Baseball Players Association planned a trip to Lebanon, Connecticut. They sought to promote National Baseball Day at home of Doubleday’s parents but strict wartime limits on gasoline during the war forced Anderson to cancel the pilgrimage.

Harry N. Anderson, 1943.

A few months after the invasion of D-Day, Harry Anderson made an appearance at a Camp Courant award ceremony with Private Tony DeMaio of the Marine Corps. They were also joined by members of the Hartford baseball club: Business Manager Charlie Blossfield, Manager Del Bissonette, and a pitcher, Merle Settlemire. They presented the Bert Keane Trophy for sportsmanship to Angelo Perone of 54 Charter Oak Avenue. Then, in October of 1944, Anderson was in an automobile accident. He sustained minor injuries and checked into Hartford Hospital. Anderson made a full recovery and details of his injuries were not disclosed.

Harry N. Anderson visits Camp Courant, 1944.

In his latter years, Anderson was a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the Hartford Courant. When Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis died on November 25, 1944, Anderson composed a tribute to baseball’s “greatest leader” who restored confidence in the game. He shared a personal anecdote of meeting Landis who jumped at the opportunity to attend Hartford Boys’ Baseball Day in 1927. Anderson’s next editorial called for the continuation of athletics during World War II. He touted the physical, mental and social benefits of sports. Baseball in particular, he argued, was an important facet of daily life and served as an inspiration to young people.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis playing golf with Hartford Mayor Walter Batterson, 1930.

Anderson was behind another public address when the Hartford Exiles broadcasted their 1945 reunion on the radio. Remarks were made by Congressman Miller who endorsed the Universal Service Act—requiring military service for American citizens. At the dinner, Commandant Anderson wore his YMCA uniform from his days in France. Later that year, Anderson was appointed to Hartford’s Medallion Commission, an official committee that voted on military service awards given on behalf of the city. War heroes such as Major General Leonard F. Wing and General Jonathan M. Wainwright were presented medals while making appearances in Hartford.

Hartford Exiles, 1945.

Then in August, Anderson showed his appreciation for a late friend, Mary E. J. Lally. She had been general supervisor of Camp Courant since 1924. After her sudden passing in 1934, Lally was remembered each year at the camp on “Mary E. J. Lally Day” and Anderson was a regular attendee. Like his friend Mary Lally, Anderson was a champion of youth organizations and physical education. His attachment to these causes led him publish more editorials on the topics of athletics, politics and all things Hartford.

Anderson attends Mary E. J. Lally Day at Camp Courant, Hartford, 1945.

In two columns during 1945, Anderson expressed the need for an indoor arena in Hartford capable of hosting various cold weather sports. The Greater Hartford community had become more interested in cold weather sports such as basketball and hockey. He recommended dedicating the arena to veterans of both world wars and suggested a design similar to the Hershey Sports Arena in Pennsylvania. However, it would be another thirty years until the Hartford Civic Center was built in 1974.

Hershey Sports Arena, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 1940 (c.)

On New Years night in 1946, Harry Anderson and his exclusive club of Exiles dined around an “H” shaped table at Hotel Garde. Commandant Anderson presided as master of ceremonies which included the induction of Major Kenneth G. Collins into the order. Colonel Elmer S. Watson, state motor vehicles commissioner gave the keynote speech about the cost of world peace. He praised the valorous acts carried out by 43rd Infantry Division, made up of men from Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Former Staff Sargent Donald C. Millen of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, exhibited his collection of souvenirs from a raid of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.

Hartford Exiles, 1946.

The Bermuda Invaders reunion of 1946 took place at Marble Pillar, a German restaurant in downtown Hartford. At the dinner, Anderson screened a short film of the 1945 World Series featuring the American League Champion Detroit Tigers defeating the National League Champion Chicago Cubs in seven games. Anderson had become a regular customer at Marble Pillar and a friend of the restaurant owner, Carl Struve. When Struve turned 72 years old, Anderson and the Veteran Baseball Players Association threw a him a birthday party.

Carl Struve, owner of Marble Pillar, 1946.
Marble Pillar advertisement, 1965.

In spring of 1946, Anderson donated unboxed baseball gloves to a contest run by the Hartford Chiefs and a group known as the Lady Fans of Hartford. The women’s fan club selected two Hartford High School baseball players, Bob Andrews and Arnold Lewis as recipients of the gloves and a Spring Training tryout with the Hartford Chiefs in Greenwood, Mississippi. Towards the end of the baseball season, Anderson made his annual visit to Camp Courant accompanied by Charlie Blossfield of the Hartford Chiefs and William J. Lee of the Hartford Courant. The trio the camp’s highest honor to Kenneth Jerome for sportsmanship, citizenship and athletic ability. 

Lady Fans of Hartford gift baseball gloves donated by Harry N. Anderson to Hartford students, 1946.
Harry Anderson looks on (right) as Kenneth Jerome receives Bert Keane Trophy at Camp Courant, 1946.

The following year, Anderson revisited the push for National Baseball Day. He wrote another editorial in the newspaper on April 20, 1947, endorsing the creation of National Baseball Day and exclaiming the importance of Abner Doubleday:

“For if he had not conceived the idea of the game, there would be no baseball game and no Babe Ruth to take part. Congressman William J. Miller of Connecticut had presented a resolution to side aside [Major] General Abner Doubleday’s birthday as a National Baseball Day and will bring it before the President and Congress again. A certain percentage of the receipts from the games in the major and minor baseball leagues on the National Baseball Day could be devoted to taking care of veteran baseball players in need and the youth program in the development of baseball among sandlot players as a National Baseball Fund.”

Harry N. Anderson
Harry N. Anderson, 1947.

Anderson’s calls for National Baseball Day were heard, but the levers of government had failed to deliver results. Yet, he remained engaged in the Veteran Baseball Player’s Association. Anderson was chosen as president at the annual convention of 1948 at Craig Loch Manor in Meriden, Connecticut. His bygone friends, Luke Crowe of West Haven and Mickey Lambert of Unionville, served as officers. Former professional players, Harry Noyes of West Haven and James. J. Burns of Hartford, were each named vice presidents.

Craig Loch Manor, Meriden, Connecticut, 1948 (c.)

On August 17, 1948, Anderson attended the funeral of baseball’s biggest superstar, Babe Ruth. He was selected by Mayor Cyril Coleman to represent the City of Hartford. Ruth’s memorial was held at Universal Funeral Chapel on 52nd Street in Manhattan. About a month later, Anderson accepted an appointment to Hartford’s Rent Advisory Board. He had been personally recommended to the position by Governor James C. Shannon.

Hartford Exiles at 29th annual reunion, 1948.
Harry N. Anderson named as Hartford’s delegate for Babe Ruth’s funeral, 1948.
Governor James C. Shannon, 1948.

The Hartford Exiles gathered for their thirtieth anniversary on January 3, 1949. The milestone was held at the University Club situated at 30 Lewis Street. Twenty-five members heard Superior Court Judge Edward J. Daly deliver the keynote speech. Daly, one of three American judges at the Nuremberg Trials, spoke about the ruthless and criminal conduct of the Nazi regime. The Hartford Exiles inducted two new members, who were announced as the final additions to the order. Even though new membership had ended, Anderson promised that the reunions would go on.

Hartford Exiles at the University Club, 1949.
Judge Edward J. Daly, 1949.

In the spring of 1949, Anderson gave a commencement speech to the graduating class at his alma mater, Brown School. By summertime, he made an obligatory visit and donation to Camp Courant on behalf of the Charity Bowling Carnival. Then, ten years after being honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Anderson and the Bermuda Invaders were invited back to Cooperstown. Director of the Hall Fame, Bob Quinn recognized their feat in Bermuda, and he signed a draft of Anderson’s National Baseball Day resolution.

Harry N. Anderson (center) at Camp Courant, 1949.
Harry N. Anderson (left) at graduation of the Brown School on Market Street in Hartford, 1949.

In 1950, Anderson coaxed Congressman Abraham Ribicoff into backing National Baseball Day. Ribicoff, a Democrat, crafted legislation for the observance, but again, the bill was rejected in committee. Back in Hartford, Anderson wrote short column endorsing fellow Exile, William A. Purtell for Governor of Connecticut. Purtell lost the 1950 Republican primary to Congressman John Davis Lodge. Later that year, the Exiles mourned the passing of three members: Rev. Raymond Cunningham, Congressman William J. Miller and former managing editor of the Hartford Courant, George B. Armstead.

Hartford Exiles, 1950.
Congressman Abraham Ribicoff introduces legislation for National Baseball Day, 1950.

Anderson and Hartford Exiles began 1951 at the University Club for their thirty-second annual reunion. Hartford Attorney Thomas J. Dodd, distinguished for his work as prosector at the Nuremberg Trials, was guest speaker. Anderson and others listened to the aspiring politician declare communist Russia as America’s next greatest threat. Dinner guests enjoyed the same four course meal served in Paris in 1919. The Exiles ended the night by singing the national anthems of the United States and of France.

An architectural drawing of the University Club, Hartford, Connecticut, 1936.
Thomas J. Dodd, 1946.

The Charity Bowling Carnival in February of 1951 was wildly popular. Anderson’s annual event for Camp Courant attracted seventy-two bowling teams who competed until a half hour until midnight. At 65 years old, Anderson’s philanthropic ways never ceased. On August 24, 1951, he arranged a special night at Bulkeley Stadium for young patients of the Newington Crippled Home for Children, who were greeted by members of the Hartford Chiefs and given autographed baseballs. At the end of the year, Anderson received a national honor when he was handpicked by the Amateur Athletic Union to vote on finalists for the James E. Sullivan Award.

Harry N. Anderson (seated, center) visits Camp Courant, 1951.
The Hartford Chiefs meet a patient from Newington Home for Crippled Children at Bulkeley Stadium, 1951.

In 1952, Anderson and the Bermuda Invaders celebrated the fortieth anniversary since their groundbreaking trip. Some members of the close-knit team brought their wives to the banquet including Theodore J. Marenholtz, Harry E. Rau and Carl Palmberg. Anderson never married. Instead, he reveled in camaraderie within fraternal, athletic and nonprofit organizations, many of which he had founded. He had few family relations, but he had dozens of close friends and admiring acquaintances.

Bermuda Invaders celebrate 40th Anniversary in Hartford, 1952.
The Bert Keane Trophy awarded by management of the Hartford Chiefs and Harry N. Anderson (right) at Camp Courant, 1952.

As a self-proclaimed “friend of pets,” Anderson owned a cocker spaniel named Princess. On a few occasions, Anderson contributed articles to the newspaper concerning the treatment dogs in Hartford. He advocated for a new shelter where stray or abandoned pets could remain until adopted by residents. Each Christmas Eve, from 1950 to 1953, Anderson went door-to-door gifting juicy bones to local dogs. One reporter called him the “Santa Claus of Canines.”

Harry N. Anderson gives bones to dogs on Christmas Eve, 1952

Anderson carried on his humanitarian habits in 1953. The Charity Bowling Carnival raised $75 for the Newington Home and Hospital for Crippled Children. During the check presentation, Anderson gifted a baseball autographed by Milwaukee Braves to Thomas Julian of West Hartford, a patient at the Newington facility. In another baseball matter, Anderson penned a glowing tribute to Hall of Fame Bob Quinn upon his passing in 1954: “He brought to the game the spirit of clean and honorable sportsmanship in all his dealings.”

Harry N. Anderson (second from right) hands autographed ball to Thomas Julian at the Newington Home and Hospital for Crippled Children, 1953.

Towards the end of his life, Harry Anderson lived at 21 Montrose Street, Hartford. After an extended illness, he passed away on Christmas Day, 1954, at New Britain Hospital at the age of 69. Anderson died leaving many lifelong friends behind. They were saddened to lose him before his seventies. He was remembered as head of the Charity Bowling Carnival, Commandant of the Hartford Exiles and leader of the Bermuda Invaders. Anderson served others and in the process, he rubbed elbows with America’s greatest sports figures and politicians.

Harry N. Anderson at Camp Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, 1954.

A few days after Anderson’s passing, a friend from South Norwalk, Connecticut, and former track athlete, Harold Cutbill wrote a touching “A Tribute to Harry N. Anderson” in the Hartford Courant. In his last will and testament, Anderson left savings to Hartford causes and organizations. He bequeathed $16,000 in all. Camp Courant and Times Farm received $500 each. Other beneficiaries were Christ Church Cathedral, YMCA of Hartford, Newington Home for Crippled Children, Masonic Charity Foundation of Wallingford and the Hartford Chapter of the Yankee Division. Surviving members of the Hartford Exiles were left $500 to defray costs at future reunions.

Hartford Courant excerpt, December 29, 1954.

Anderson’s pursuit of National Baseball Day did not go in vain. He had convinced Congressman Thomas J. Dodd to take up the resolution, but it failed to pass the committee stage yet again. However, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, an ardent baseball fan, saw merit in the observance day. In 1957, President Eisenhower declared the first National Baseball Polio Day on Flag Day, June 14, 1957, at stadiums and sandlots across America. Professional and amateur teams throughout the United States collected donations to combat the polio epidemic.

National Baseball Polo Day is established, 1957.

With great vigor and influence, Harry N. Anderson was a sports promoter, a philanthropist and a founding father of amateur baseball in Hartford. He acted admirably as a conduit between the city and charitable organizations. Thousands of men, women and children benefited from his life’s work. He was a man of strong traditions, varied interests, charity, service and faith who devised athletic leagues and blazed baseball’s trail, from Hartford to Bermuda to Cooperstown.

The Harry Anderson Memorial Bowling Carnival at Capitol Alleys, Hartford, Connecticut, 1955.

Gentlemen:—

Permit me to comment on the part you have taken in the interest of the poor children of this city that they might enjoy the recreational privileges that others of better circumstances have benefited for their physical welfare. It is a most worthy object that should have the support of all whose means will allow. I feel that the sporting fraternity of this city is in sympathy with any movement that will aid in the betterment of the physical development of our community life and should have a part this cause.

I therefore have arranged for a benefit baseball game to be played at a later date for which the proceeds will be turned over to this work. It is through the spirited co-operation of the Hartford police and firemen together with the services of the Hartford Grays and Simsbury teams of the County League that this is made possible.

I feel sure the sporting fraternity of this city will lend its patronage as it has all times in the past so that the event may be a big success in the upkeep of this worthy work. Assuring you my co-operation and best wishes for its continued success. I remain—

Sincerely yours,

Harry N. Anderson
July 31, 1920

¹A similar National Baseball Day resolution was presented to Congress in 1996 by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey however this time, Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. was named as the founding father of baseball, not Abner Doubleday.

Sources

1. Hartford Courant database accessed through Newspapers.com
2. Player profiles on Baseball-Reference.com
3. Media content from Connecticuthistoryillustrated.org
4. Boston Globe database accessed through Newspapers.com
5. SABR Bio Project, Les Mann: sabr.org/bioproj/person/les-mann/
6. Baseball Prospectus: baseballprospectus.com/
7. Martin, Brian. Baseball’s Creation Myth: Adam Ford, Abner Graves and the Cooperstown Story. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers, 2013.

Hartford, Connecticut, A Pioneer Baseball Town

In February of 1938, news broke of a “Class A” Eastern League team relocating to Hartford. The Hartford Bees (also called Hartford Laurels and Hartford Senators) were established when Boston Braves owner, Bob Quinn moved his farm team from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to the Charter Oak City. Hartford had been deprived of a professional team since the end of 1934. Reacting to the announcement, Hartford Times sports columnist Dan Parker contextualized the historic news:

Bob Quinn, Boston Bees owner (left) signs lease of Bulkeley Stadium, 1938.

Hartford, one of baseball’s pioneer towns, is back in the game after being outside the pale for a half dozen years. True, it is a far cry and a big drop from one of the original franchises in the National League to membership in the Eastern, but Hartford folk while glorifying in the past, also want to do a bit of glorifying in the present, and, therefore welcome a Class A club without a trace of condescension.

Not only did Hartford furnish the National League with one of the charter clubs but it also gave the league its first president, the late Morgan G. Bulkeley. But that isn’t the 50 per cent of it, my little horned toads. Bob Ferguson, who managed the Hartford club and steered it into second place in its first season in baseball and finished third in its second and last year in the National, would have made the first unassisted triple play in history, were it not for the annoying circumstance that one man already had been retired when Bob made his “triple killing.”

It was Hartford, too, that was the victim of the first no-hit game in the National League. Not only that, but Hartford also invented the double header as a means of stimulating attendance. When it failed to work, the franchise was surrendered. But, in those days, Hartford was just a struggling small town and not the bustling metropolis it is today, with a toe-hold on most of the insurance business in America.

If there is a better city in its particular class than Hartford, I have yet to encounter it. The population is currently estimated at 175,000, but towns within easy driving distance swell the ball club’s potential customer list to close to a half million. The town is really in the International League class.

Hartford’s return to organized baseball is a happy home and for those other New England cities, rich in baseball history but now unhappily out of procession. It is almost unbelievable that good baseball towns like Providence, Wooster, New Haven, Springfield and—yes—dear old Waterbury, should be without representation and organized baseball for a decade, when they used to constitute the best minor league territory until the depression wrecked industrial New England.

Dan Parker, Hartford Times
Dan Parker, Hartford Times, 1938.

September 19 – 4th Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament

  • Sunday, September 19, 2020 at Blackledge Country Club, 180 West Street, Hebron (map)
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DiPietro to Enter Berlin High School Hall of Fame

Soon-to-be Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Ryan DiPietro attended Eastern Connecticut State University, was drafted by both the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. He later played in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for five seasons with the Meriden Merchants franchise, now known as the Record-Journal Expos.

Published August 17, 2021 in the Record-Journal

The Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Aqua Turf. Leading up to the event, The Citizen is highlighting the accomplishments of the Hall of Fame Class of 2021. This week: Ryan DiPietro.

A member of the Class of 2002, DiPietro made an immediate impact on the baseball field. As a freshman in 1999, he stepped to the plate in the second round of the CIAC Class L state tournament and homered on the first pitch he saw. That also happened to be his very first varsity at-bat.

The Redcoats went on to claim the Class L crown, and DiPietro was on his way to legend status.

“My baseball roots are right here in Berlin,” DiPietro said. “We took pride in the success in town, Little League on up. And that 1999 state title team continued that tradition.”

Ryan DiPietro, 2001.

While DiPietro was a fine hitter and centerfielder, he is best known for his work on the mound. The lefty set BHS’s seven-inning  strikeout record (17), was 7-0 with a .085 ERA with two one-hitters as a junior and went 6-2 with a .050 ERA and 94 strikeouts as a senior.

DiPietro was an All-State and all-conference performer, and was selected MVP of the 2002 Senior All-Star game held at Fenway Park. Also in 2002, he led Berlin to the American Legion state championship, and was named tournament MVP.

DiPietro was selected by the the New York Mets in the 42nd round of the 2002 MLB draft, but he opted for college.

DiPietro would attend Eastern Connecticut State University, where he compiled a career record of 29-3 and, in 2004, helped propel ECSU to the national title game.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Eastern Connecticut, 2004.

A NCAA Division III All-American and Pitcher of the Year selection, DiPietro set ECSU records for strikeouts in a game (19), strikeouts in a season (162) and consecutive victories (19). He ranks second in career strikeouts (336) and starts in a season (15).

DiPietro was the sixth-round selection of the Kansas City Royals in 2005 and would play minor and independent league ball for seven years.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Burlington Bees, 2006.

DiPietro now works as an environmental inspector. He lives in Wallingford with his wife Rachel, sons Chase and Cal and daughter Hailey.

Also entering the Hall of Fame this year are Katelyn Zarotney (Class of 2010, basketball and volleyball), Max DeLorenzo (Class of 2010, football and basketball) and Cliff Landry (football and basketball coach 1954-61.)

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Meriden Merchants, 2016.

The ceremony for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 was called off due to the coronavirus, so it will be inducted along with the Class of 2021. The Class of 2020 includes Steve Baccaro (Class of 1947), Phil Perretta (Class of 1961), John Steurer (Class of 1980), Cynthia Gozzo Dastoli (Class of 1990), Robert Manzo (Class of 1990), Allison Murphy Semenuk (Class of 2002), Matt Carasiti (Class of 2009), and the 1999 and 2000 state championship wrestling teams.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Meriden Expos, 2016.

Jets Top Orioles, Snagging Second Straight Playoff Championship

On August 15, 2021, the East Hartford Jets only needed a single game to tame the Vernon Orioles in the Playoff Championship round of GHTBL’s 2021 Playoff Tournament. Player-manager Taylor Kosakowski fielded his best-hitting lineup, although Jeff Criscuolo had to come out of the game in the early stages due to a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Manager Jack Ceppetelli of the O’s played his trusted group of veterans, who had already earned the 2021 Regular Season title. On average, both the Orioles and the Jets are comprised of some of the most experienced twilight league players, but the Jets are the younger team when compared to the O’s.

Age would not be much of factor, however, since quality performances came from players young and old. Jets starting pitcher Bryan Albee (21) and Orioles starter Matt Curtis (19) showed stamina and strength amidst long, hard-fought outings. Albee earned a 6-inning win while allowing only 2 runs.

Former independent leaguers and veteran players like Orioles shortstop, Tony Trubia and Jets outfielder/pitcher, Jimmy Schult have led their clubs by example during the summer and throughout the playoffs.Trubia and Schult each had impactful RBIs in the first O’s vs. Jets matchup at the semi-final stage of the playoffs. Schult would again come through with a timely base hit in the championship game leading to a 2-run double by Jets first baseman, Jack Blake.

Although Matt Curtis pitched a complete game, his strong effort would fall short of the Jets 6th inning rally. Schult came into the game for the save in the bottom of the 7th inning. Despite a base hit by Tony Trubia, he would be the only O’s baserunner during the game’s last frame. Schult struck out Ian Halpin on an inside pitch and then made Tyler Pogmore swing and miss for the final out.

Congratulations to Taylor Kosakowski, Chris Kehoe and all of the East Hartford Jets on their second consecutive playoff championship. Can’t wait until next year!