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Brooklyn Atlantics History

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 undisputed champions of baseball. 

At a glance...
BROOKLYN ATLANTICS
Franchise Facts
Established (amateur) 1855
Established 1872
Disbanded  1875
Disbanded (amateur) 1881
Located Brooklyn
Executives Robert Ferguson (1872-1873)
B. Van Delft (1875)
Year by Year Results
W L %
1872  9 28 .243
1873 17 37 .315
1874 22 33 .400
1875 2 42 .045
Affiliations
NABBP (1857-1871)
National Association (1872-1875)
Postseason/Titles
NABBP Titles (7) 1859, 1860, 1861
1864, 1865, 1866
1869
NA Titles (0)
Nicknames
Atlantic of Brooklyn (1855-1881)
Ballparks
Capitoline Grounds (1864-1872)
Union Grounds (1873-1875)
Top Performances
Single-Season
Career

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. 

1865 Champions!

The Atlantic were the world's champions of baseball for 1865.

Photo courtesy LOC


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.



National Association sources/bibliography:
Baseball: The Early Years by Harold Seymour.
Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game by David Block.
Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime during the Civil War by George B. Kirsch.
Blackguards and Red Stockings by William J. Ryczek
The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870 by Marshall D. Wright.
Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball by Warren Goldstein.
When Johnny Came Sliding Home: The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870 by William J. Ryczek

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.

General Baseball History sources/bibliography:
Baseball: A History of America's Game
by Benjamin G. Rader.
Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns (PBS DVD)
The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18 Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present by David Pietrusza.
The Great 19th Century Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, 2nd Edition by David Nemec.
Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Late Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball 1945-1972 by Dean A. Sullivan
Past Time: Baseball as History by Jules Tygiel
America's National Game: Historic Facts Concerning the Beginning, Evolution, Development and Popularity of Baseball by Albert Spalding
Total Baseball: The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia by John Thorn, et al.

 



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