|Based in||Hartford, Connecticut (1925-1927) |
Waterbury, Connecticut (1924-1925)
|Home field||Brassco Field (1924-25) |
Clarkin Field (1925)
East Hartford Velodrome (1926-27)
|League||National Football League (1926)|
Independent (1924-1925, 1927)
|Team History||Waterbury Blues (1924-25)|
Hartford Blues (1925-26)
Hartford Giants (1927)
|Team Colors||Blue, White (1924-1926)
|Nickname(s)||"George Mulligan's Blues"|
|Head coaches||Dick McGrath (1924-25) |
Jack Keogh (1926)
Vincent Lacava (1927)
|Other League Championship wins||1924, 1925 (State Titles)|
The Hartford Blues of the National Football League played only in the 1926 NFL season, with a record of 3-7. The team was based in Hartford, Connecticut but played at the East Hartford Velodrome.
The Blues began as the Waterbury Blues and were owned by George Mulligan, the leading sports promoter in Connecticut during the 1920s. He hired local men, both former college players and walk-ons, at a per game wage. The players practiced once a week, on Sunday morning, just before each game. In 1925 Mulligan set his sights on signing Harry Stuhldreher, the quarterback of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. He immediately accepted Mulligan's offer to play for the Blues for $7,500, plus a $500 bonus. Waterbury's other top backs at the start of the 1925 season were Ken Simendinger, from Holy Cross, and Dutch Forst, from Villanova. The line featured two other Notre Dame alumni. Ed Hunsinger played with the Four Horsemen in 1924 and rejoined Stuhldreher as an end in Waterbury. Art Garvey, a brawny tackle, had played pro ball for several years since leaving Notre Dame in 1922. He had received some All-League mention as a Chicago Bear in 1923. Another lineman, Dick McGrath, doubled as captain and coach.
The Blues opened their season on September 27 by whipping a team from Yonkers, New York 32-0. Soon after Mulligan signed Jim Crowley, another ex-Horseman, to join Stuhldreher in the backfield against Adams, Massachusetts. Crowley's regular job was assistant coach at the University of Georgia. The Blues put on a good show by driving to a 34-0 triumph, with Crowley scoring three touchdowns and Stuhldreher booting two field goals and three extra points. Crowley picked up his check after the game and left the team.
In their only NFL contest of 1925, the Blues beat the Rochester Jeffersons 7-6. Soon after the Blues closest rival in Connecticut, the West Siders franchise soon folded and George Mulligan immediately picked up the lease on Clarkin Field and renamed his team the Hartford Blues. According to the Hartford Courant, Waterbury's poor support of the team prompted the move. The same article reported that Mulligan had already posted entrance money with the NFL, and that Hartford would have a place in the league in 1926.
The new Hartford Blues debued on November 8, 1925 by beating the Rochester Jeffersons, 8-6, in a rematch. Stuhldreher suffered a mild concussion during the game, held in bad weather before a disappointing crowd of 2,000. On Thanksgiving Day however, the Blues didn't schedule a game because a number of key players, including Stuhldreher, had to be elsewhere coaching college or high school teams. So to beef up the Blues, Mulligan signed five new players: back Obie Bristow and guard Steve Owen from the Kansas City Cowboys which ended its season in Hartford; fullback Roy Mackert from the Rochester Jeffersons; end Herb Kopf, and, most newsworthy, halfback Don Miller, became the third Horsemen to sign a contract with Mulligan. The reinforced Blues dominated the circuit ensure its claim on the state championship.
However, instead of ending the season George Mulligan had other plans. He booked a game for December 6 at Clarkin Field against Pere Marquette, probably the strongest pro team in Boston. Of the new recruits, Bristow, Owen, and Miller were still in the line-up, and Mulligan added another new man in end Grattan O'Connell, a Bristol, Connecticut, native who had just finished his senior season at Boston College and turned pro immediately. The Blues beat Pere Marquette, 12-0. Mulligan had attempted to schedule the Blues against Red Grange and the Chicago Bears. However, the Bears had already booked a game against the Providence Steam Roller. However, shortly after Mulligan booked a final season game at Clarkin Field. He brought in the Cleveland Bulldogs as opponents, and he signed all four Horsemen to play in the Hartford backfield. The Hartford Courant speculated that Mulligan might be paying $5,000 for the one-day services of Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Elmer Layden. However the Bulldogs won the game 13-6 .
Layden and Stuhldreher left to join the Brooklyn Horsemen of the American Football League.
The Blues began the 1926 NFL season disappointingly with a 21-0 loss to the New York Giants. The team later added two losses in back-to-back games against the Frankford Yellow Jackets and a loss 6-0 loss to the Brooklyn Lions, at Ebbets Field. The team would go on to only win three games during the season, against the Brooklyn Lions 16-6, the Dayton Triangles 16-0, and the Canton Bulldogs 16-7 in a game that ended early due to darkness and a lack of field lights. The remaining four games were losses to the Kansas City Cowboys, the Buffalo Bisons, the Duluth Eskimos and the non-league All-New Britain team. The remaining games were cancelled due to scheduling conflicts or weather conditions. The Blues ended their stint in the NFL after the season and returned to being an independent for 1927, playing one season as the Hartford Giants before folding.
Hall of famers
- Steve Owen
East Hartford Velodrome
The Blues played their 1926 season in the East Hartford Velodrome, a then-new bicycle track located across the Connecticut River in East Hartford. The grass football field barely fit inside the wooden track. Its capacity was 8,000 spectators.
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