Though professional baseball is gone from Hartford, the Senator name lived on much later in amateur circles courtesy of the Vintage Base Ball Federation. The VBBF pitted clubs against one another in a celebration of baseball as it used to be known, decked out in the baggy attire of yesteryear, many playing under the banners of squads forgotten by modern day baseball. In order to further enhance the old timey feel, contests featured fat-handled bats, lemon peel stitched balls and gloves with only a modest pocket between 5 sausage fingers. Aesthetically, the game adhered to as strict of authenticity as possible, a visual trip backward to the turn of the century.Teams consisted of 15 to 20 amateur players with a maximum of 3 former minor league players on the roster. Individual teams are formed in multiple ways, whether by holding an open tryout or simply converting an existing amateur baseball group into a vintage team. The standard cost for fielding a vintage baseball team was 6,500, covering uniforms and equipment, though this money in many cases was contributed by members of the community would fancy vintage baseball games as a novelty and/or tourist attraction.The VBBF culminated with an annual 6 team Vintage Base Ball World Series Tournament, determining the champion of the 225 vintage baseball clubs across 32 states. The Hartford Senators were been among the most successful names in vintage baseball, even taking home to the VBBF World Series crown in 2007, when Hall of Fame broadcaster Vern Scully referred to that year’s team as the “greatest vintage baseball team that ever played,” in a game broadcast on ESPN. The last full VBBF season on record occurred in 2008, with the Federation opting to cancel 2009 games due to unfavorable economic conditions.A similar league, the Vintage Base Ball Association, continues to operate, with 4 outfits in the Connecticut area, including the Hartford Dark Blues, playing tribute the city’s inaugural, albeit shorter tenured, professional baseball presence.
Hartford Dark Blues, Hartford Senators
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