Back when most manufacturing companies organized baseball clubs, one of the longest running teams in the Nutmeg State was Royal Typewriter. In 1908, Royal Typewriter had moved their production operations from Brooklyn, New York, to New Park Avenue on Hartford’s western border. Along with their crosstown rival, Underwood Typewriter Company, Royal’s relocation made Hartford the “Typewriter Capital of the World.” That same year, Royal Typewriter Baseball Club joined the city’s lively amateur scene. Ownership built a baseball diamond on New Park Avenue, they supplied uniforms and equipment, and the Royals became a powerhouse in Hartford for about four decades.
Key players on Royal Typewriter were young, local workmen. A tall right-handed pitcher named Moses “Moe” Lenhoff from Ashley Street was the team’s ace. Lenhoff enjoyed minor league experience with New Britain of the Connecticut State League and later with Amsterdam of the Eastern Association. His Royal battery mate was John “Boggy” Muldoon of West Hartford, a catcher who later signed with the Hartford Senators of the Eastern League at 20 years old. Following a semi-pro career, in which he caught a game for Babe Ruth, Muldoon became Connecticut’s best known umpire. He later retired from Royal Typewriter after 42 years of service.
Royal Typewriter were revered as one of Hartford’s top company teams. The manager of the club was A.A. MacKay, recognized as “Father Baseball” by his players. In 1913, the Royals were chosen to represent the city in the newly arranged Connecticut Independent Baseball League by Hartford sporting goods purveyor and community organizer, Harry N. Anderson. Other cities included Manchester, Meriden, Wallingford, Bristol, New Britain, Windsor Locks and Collinsville. For a company team, Royal Typewriter was elite, but as semi-professionals the Royals of Hartford finished fourth in the standings in consecutive seasons.
On October 9, 1926, the Hartford Daily Courant reported that Royal made its one millionth typewriter. The thriving business remained active in local baseball. Thousands of fans had witnessed the Royals perform after work hours. However, public interest in company teams waned due the impending Great Depression. Unemployment made sports less of a priority in Hartford. Crowds of 5,000 at Royal games were now reduced to a few hundred Hartford Industrial League diehards.
Royal Typewriter finally hit their stride as a baseball franchise in the late 1930’s. They finished second in the Industrial League of 1937 under the direction of Manager Frank Strong. The next year, Royal Typewriter defeated Chance Vought and captured the “Dusty” League title with a perfect 15-0 win-loss record. Many Royals on the 1938 championship team such as Pete Kapura, George Dixon, John Carlin, Yosh Kinel and Jackie Cronin were savvy veterans with plenty of diamond time. They also appeared for the Savitt Gems, Bill Savitt’s semi-professional club at Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium.
Manager Strong guided the Royals to another winning season in 1939. They were runner-ups in the Dusty League behind Pratt & Whitney, but the Royals bounced back when they competed for a statewide “Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship” against the Bridgeport Springwoods. Because Bridgeport defeated Pratt & Whitney a few days earlier, the Royals secured the semi-pro state championship with a 3-2 win over Bridgeport. A week later, the Royals faced Rhode Island’s state champion, Club Marquette of Woonsocket, but were swept three games in row.
Royal Typewriter underwent immense changes during World War II. The company converted all operations to exclusively manufacture goods for the Allied cause. Royal made machine guns, rifles, bullets, propellers and spare parts for airplane engines. When the war ended, Royal Typewriter sponsored a team in the Hartford Twilight League. At the end of the summer, Royal hosted the Pete Kapura Memorial Doubleheader. Kapura, a longtime Royal employee, died at 35 years old at Saint Francis Hospital due to an undisclosed illness. His wife and two kids were supported by more than 3,000 paying fans on August 11, 1947, at Bulkeley Stadium.