Bridgeport, Connecticut, owns a rich and diverse baseball history. People from varied backgrounds stepped up to the plate in Bridgeport's early years-sons of Irish immigrants, laborers and merchants, Asian and Latino players, and some of the first African Americans to play professional ball. Local baseball truly blossomed with "Orator" Jim O'Rourke, who returned from the big leagues and organized the Connecticut State Baseball League in 1895. Numerous Bridgeport teams evolved, including the Victors, Mechanics, Bolts, Americans, and Bears. Bridgeport Baseball traces the game from the post-Civil War era to today. Baseball beneath the roaring smokestacks of industrial Bridgeport included visits by barnstorming Major League and Negro League teams, future Hall of Famers, and a train wreck that almost killed the St. Louis Cardinals. The smokestacks are silent now, yet the legacy of Bridgeport baseball continues to evolve with the city's first professional club in nearly half a century-the Bridgeport Bluefish. The team, owners, staff, fans, and stadium have all contributed to restoring the living history that is Bridgeport Baseball.
About the Author
Michael J. Bielawa is the community relations librarian with the Bridgeport Public Library. He is a local baseball historian and member of the Society for American Baseball Research. He also writes and lectures on the history of baseball in Connecticut.