Friends of Vintage Base Ball

Hartford Base Ball Grounds at Colt Meadows

What is now known as Colt Park in Hartford, Connecticut was once part of the estate of Armsmear, Samuel and Elizabeth Colt's home, which stretched from the grand house on Wethersfield Avenue all the way down to the Colt Armory on the Connecticut River. A portion of the land was bequeathed to the City of Hartford in 1905 for use as a public park. Many activities have taken place in the park over the past 100 years – including base ball.

Armsmear, the home of Samuel and Elizabeth Colt, c. 1876.

vintage base ball
Local businesses and organizations organized base ball teams ('nines' in the parlance of the day). The Colt Armory/Factory team played from at least 1866 thorugh 1918 – often, in the early days, at 'Colt's Meadows' and 'the south meadows.'

School and amateur baseball has been played in Colt Park for decades. Now, the Friends of Vintage Base Ball is producing 19th century style base ball events on one of the fields in the park dedicated for that purpose.

Historical Overview of Location

The field is at the intersection of Curcombe Street and Hendricxsen Avenue across from Potsdam Village, built by Samuel Colt in 1858 to house the workers he convinced to move to Hartford from their native Germany to man his willow-ware factory.

As seen in the photo below (c1860), what we now call Colt Meadows was once a cow pasture on the Colt estate. The Potsdam Village homes can be seen in the background, along with Sam Colt's willow-ware factory.

Colt Meadows in Hartford, ConnecticutIt is also very near to where base ball was played in the 1860s and 70s on land owned by Elizabeth Colt, who graciously allowed a base ball stadium to be built adjacent to the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Hartford Base Ball Grounds, 1874-1877

Morgan Bulkeley formed the Hartford Base Ball Club in the American Association and leased the grounds adjacent to the Church of the Good Shepherd from Elizabeth Colt to build the Hartford Base Ball Grounds in 1874. The ball park was enclosed with an eight-foot-high wooden fence and measured about 400 feet by 500 feet. A pavilion with seating for 500 stockholders and season ticket holders was built behind home plate, which abutted Wyllys Street. Tiered bleachers for 500 more general admission spectators were built along the first base foul line with additional seating planned, if required. In May, 350 additional seats were added on the third-base side of the diamond and were reserved exclusively for ladies and the gentlemen accompanying them. Hendricxsen Avenue ran on the other side of the fence behind these stands. More seats may have subsequently been added as it was reported later in the season that seating capacity was 2,000 spectators.

For a full view, select the photo to the right.

Hartford Base Ball Grounds Today

As of April 2009, vintage base ball games have been played at the field, now dubbed the "Hartford Base Ball Grounds at Colt Meadows." Teams from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have met to play both 1860s and 1880s style games. Starting with the 2010 season, the Coltsville Vintage Base Ball League has been formed to play Civil War era games on a regular schedule. For directions to the field, click here.

Future Plans

The area of Hartford, Conn. known as Coltsville was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. Currently, the area is under consideration to become a National Park. The Friends of Vintage Base Ball is building its program towards our ultimate goal of creating an historically-accuate 19th century ball field with grandstands in Coltsville. Base ball is part of the Colt history in so many ways and we are excited about being a part of the visitor experience for those who travel to Coltsville to learn about the innovations in manufacturing that took place at the Colt Armory, as well as the many sigificant contributions to the arts and culture of Hartford provided by Elizabeth Colt, who was primarily responsible for overseeing operation of the factory and the Armsmear estate after her husband's death in 1862.

We hope to have architectural renderings of the proposed facility in the future. In the meanwhile, to view a 4-minute promotional video based on the history of baseball in Hartford, Connecticut, click on the screen below. Please be patient — depending upon your connection speed, the video may take a moment or two to load.

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