By Peter Zablocki
One would be hard-pressed to walk through the town today and not notice the proud blue colors and logo of the Denville baseball teams—a town tradition that goes back to the late 1800s. Following the Civil War and before any nationalization of the sport, the U.S. was chock full of amateur baseball leagues entertaining the local townfolk.
Denville assembled its first baseball team in 1885 and named it after the Uncas—a local tribe believed to have lived in these parts. The team’s biggest adversary in the young Morris County League was the neighboring Rockaway team. Among the Uncas biggest stars were two Dickerson brothers, three Righter brothers, and one A. Cooper—part of a team that won its most significant (and first of many) victory against its rivals in 1888 by a score line of 10-4. The games were all played on Daniel Dickerson’s farm, today’s Church Street, with nearly all of Denville cheering on their team each Sunday. From 1901 until the U.S. entrance into the First World War in 1917, the Denville team shifted into a semi-professional league where it became the first team in Morris County to have a non-white player on their roster—a waiter from the Denville Wayside Inn. When the league folded after the war, and apart from a brief team revival in 1931, Denville did not have an organized baseball team until Doc Gardner helped form the Denville Little League in 1952. The rest, as they say, is history.
Peter Zablocki is a local historian, author, and educator. Reach him at peterzablocki.com.