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The New Haven Register sports department is celebrating our 200th birthday by sharing 200 of the most interesting stories relating to sports in Greater New Haven over the past 200 years. Check back daily for historical updates.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jim Thorpe part of New Haven-Hartford baseball rivalry

Jim Thorpe was near the end of a glorious athletic career in the early 1920s.

He’d already won Olympic gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon; been a college football All-American and national champion; emerged as one of the first professional football stars; played seven seasons in the major leagues with the Giants, Braves and Reds.

He’d shaken hands with presidents, kings and viceroys; even had a meeting with Pope Pius X at the Vatican.
But by 1922, he was 34 and near the end of the line as a baseball player. Still eying a return to the major leagues, Thorpe was in his third (and final) season in the minors. On July 12, he came to New Haven as a center fielder for Hartford in an Eastern League game.

The New Haven and Hartford rivalry was heated. Bad blood dated back to the 1800s when Hartford outlobbied New Haven to be named the state’s permanent capitol. Residents of two cities simply didn’t like each other. A Hartford newspaper once ran an item offering to buy a drink for the unknown motorist who accidentally ran over a dog that served as the New Haven mascot.

Essentially, it was a feud every bit the equal of today’s Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Read Chip Malafronte's complete story.

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