The Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn ("Atlantic" or
the "Brooklyn Atlantics") was baseball's first champion and its
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 undisputed champions of
Atlantic held the championship through the 1860 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 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, Charles Smith, and Tom Pratt. Atlantic's 36 game
winning streak was finally broken in June, 1866 by Irvington, NJ. Atlantic
held the pennant, though, by splitting a two game series with Athletic of
Philadelphia and because it failed to schedule a series with contender
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 early 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 (or National
Association) 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 1881.
The Atlantic were
the world's champions of baseball for
A remnant Atlantic was invited to join the upstart American
Association in 1882 but failed to satisfy the requirements for doing
so. When the AA subsequently granted a franchise to the Brooklyn
Bridegrooms in 1884 to serve the Brooklyn market, they were referred to as
the Atlantics during their first season of play and for many years
thereafter on an informal basis by fans and in the press.
David Nemec, the tireless 19th Century Baseball
researcher, has also written a novel called Early
Dreams, which takes place during this era and features real-life characters
such as Cap Anson, George Wright, and Henry Lucas.
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