1898 Connecticut League
With seven teams sprinkled below Hartford and New London in the
east, this quaint league became energized by the arrival of recently
"retired" major leaguer Roger Connor who installed himself as
manager and firstbaseman of his hometown Waterbury team. For him
it was a Summer of celebration with a hover victory over late-charging
New Haven. Connor had started his Hall-of-Fame career on the
Waterbury sandlots and last played there when it was in an early
version of the New England League in 1878.
The ex-ballplayer turned New England League president (and who also
dabbled as a beat writer) Timothy Murnane seized on the excitement
and, for 1899, created the official minor Connecticut State League
which survived until 1912.
The Cinderella team seems to be Danbury, the western-most club.
Danbury fielded teams in all the Connecticut Leagues prior to this
date but Murnane replaced them with Norwich for 1899 - to provide a
geographic rival/partner for New London - and thereafter Danbury
never fielded a team the State League. Nevertheless, 1898 was a
banner season for that small and hilly town. The team survived a
late-July road trip to be 2.5 games behind with six games remaining
before dropping five of their last six.
Bridgeport deserves notice for starting the year 7-24, and for finishing
the year 44-21. During their turnaround a fifteen game deficit reduced
to one of five. Last place New Britain "disbanded" July 10th due to
lack of attendance, but was propped up by the league for another two
weeks at which time they and seventh place Derby were both
discarded. The league finished as a six team league. I have no data as
to whether the schedule was redrawn or if blank spots in the schedule
existed for the rest of the year. Looking at the Davenport graph it
seems blank spots existed.