Morgan G. Bulkeley

Bulkeley was elected to the Hall of Fame because he was the first president of the National League. Actually, it was William Hulbert who had the foresight and determination to create a strong league to replace the National Association, but Hulbert was from Chicago and the politics of the situation called for an Easterner to provide titular leadership for the new league. Insisting he could only serve for a year, Bulkeley accepted the position. He had been the principal backer of the Hartford team in the National Association, and continued to own the city’s team during the National League‘s first season in 1876. He had no connection with baseball after 1876, a casual fan more interested in sulky races than pennant races (he was a member of the National Trotting Association for 30 years). Hulbert slipped into the president’s chair the next year and directed the new league to its success. In 1937, when a Cooperstown committee decided whom to install for the 1939 opening ceremonies, an obvious choice was Ban Johnson, founder and president of the American League. It was necessary to equally represent the National League; thus Morgan Bulkeley, seemingly the logical counterpart of Johnson, was inducted.

Bulkeley’s father had founded the Aetna Insurance Company, and when he died, Morgan gave up a prosperous merchandising business in New York to run Aetna. After his brief fling with baseball, he entered politics and served as an alderman in Hartford before becoming a four-term mayor of the city starting in 1880. He next became governor of Connecticut, holding that office through a series of stormy administrations. A Republican, he was locked out of his office in the State Capitol by a Democratic legislature and became known as “The Crowbar Governor” when he pried the door open.

Bulkeley was elected to the United States Senate in 1904 and served one term, notable for his conflicts with President Theodore Roosevelt. He continued to direct the Aetna Insurance company, which became the nation’s largest under his leadership, until his death at 84.