Brooklyn Atlantics at Union Grounds
Brooklyn Atlantics at Union Grounds
The Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn ("Atlantic" or the "Brooklyn Atlantics") was baseball's first champion and its first dynasty.
Established in 1855, Atlantic was a founding member of the National Association of Base Ball Players in 1857. In 1859, with a record of 11 wins and 1 loss, Atlantic emerged as the recognized champions of baseball. Atlantic held the championship through the 1861 season, albeit in controversial fashion. In a third and deciding game with Excelsior of Brooklyn, Excelsior was leading 8–6 and had men on base, but was forced to withdraw by a rowdy crowd of Atlantic partisans and gamblers. The game was declared a draw, and the championship retained by Atlantic.
Atlantic held the championship again through the 1861 season, which was shortened due to the American Civil War, before finally surrendering it to archrival Eckford of Brooklyn in 1862. Atlantic recaptured the pennant in 1864 with a season record of twenty wins, no defeats, and a single tie as the only blemish on its record. Atlantic went undefeated again in 1865 with an 18–0 record, sweeping series against chief rivals Mutual of New York and Athletic of Philadelphia. Great players of this era included Joe Start, Dickey Pearce, Charlie Smith, Fred Crane, and Tom Pratt. Atlantic's 36 game winning streak was finally broken in June, 1866 by Irvington, NJ. Atlantic retained the pennant that year by splitting a two game series with Athletic of Philadelphia and declining to schedule a series with Union of Morrisania. Atlantic did surrender the title to Union in 1867.
When Atlantic defeated Eckford to regain the pennant in 1869, Atlantic had already lost to the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This allowed Atlantic to claim the championship over the undefeated Cincinnati club under the "challenge" format of the National Association of Base Ball Players, which resembled modern boxing championship rules rather than a league or tournament format. This outcome undoubtedly contributed to the tremendous anticipation when Cincinnati came to Brooklyn with an 89 game winning streak to meet the Atlantics on June 14, 1870 at Atlantic's home Capitoline Grounds. An estimated crowd of fifteen thousand paid 50 cents a piece to see Atlantic win 8–7 in extra innings in one of the most significant games in baseball history. Atlantic surrendered the title later in the year, though, to Mutual.
Atlantic had been among the first clubs to declare themselves professional when allowed to do so in 1869. However, when the major professional clubs formed the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871, Atlantic declined to field a team. As a result, their best players, including George Zettlein, Bob Ferguson, Joe Start and Lip Pike, jumped to other clubs.
When Atlantic did join the professional circuit in 1872, it was unable to reestablish itself as a leading club, suffering losing records in each of its four seasons in the league. Atlantic was not invited to join the National League when that circuit was formed in 1876, but continued to play an independent schedule until at least 1882.
A remnant Atlantic was invited to join the upstart American Association in 1882 but failed to satisfy the requirements for doing so. For many years afterwards, the term Atlantic batting referred to a big inning, especially late in the game.
- Brooklyn Atlantics
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