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Bulls History

1902-1939 | 1940-1988 | 1990-Present | Bulls in the Majors

March 18, 1902

The North Carolina League is formed at a meeting in Raleigh. The Durham club is secured by Mr. W. G. Bramham, the owner of the team. The League is scheduled to begin on May 5th and play for four months.

April 24, 1902

The Durham Tobacconists take the field for the first time in an exhibition game against Trinity College. Durham won the game, 8-5.

May 5, 1902

Durham Tobacconists play their first official regular season game in Charlotte. The Bulls lost to Charlotte, 12-2. Brucker took the loss.

May 12th, 1902

Durham plays their first home game against Newbern.

July 12th, 1902

Bulls owner Judge William G. Bramham refused to send his team to play at New Bern, stating that as far as the home team was concerned, the league was at an end. Professional baseball would not return to Durham until 1913

December 12, 1912

Durham joins the newly formed North Carolina State League.

April 24, 1913

The Durham team played its first game as the Bulls at Hanes Field on the Trinity College Campus (now Duke East Campus). Lee Meadows pitched a complete game as the Bulls defeated the Raleigh Capitals, 7-4.

May 30, 1917

North Carolina State League folds due to the start of World War I. Bulls win North Carolina State League, though it was a short-season of only 36 games.

October 31, 1919

The Piedmont League is officially formed. Teams will be place d in cities throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

July 7, 1926

Bulls play their first game at El Toro Park.

July 26th, 1926

In ceremonies presided over by North Carolina Governor Angus W. McLean and Commissioner of Baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, El Toro Park is dedicated. Judge Landis stole the show by mounting the Bulls' mascot, a real bull, and riding it on the field. Durham loses to Raleigh, 3-2.


Durham begins its first major league affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies.

December 9, 1932

Judge William G. Bramham, the man who brought professional baseball to Durham and owned the Bulls from 1913-1915, was elected president of the National Association. Bramham had previously served as president of the North Carolina State League and the Piedmont League.


After the 1933 season, John Sprunt Hill and his wife donate $20,000 to the city. The city purchases El Toro Park and renames it Durham Athletic Park.


Durham Bulls are unable to operate due to the Great Depression.

June 17, 1939

Durham Athletic Park burns to the ground, resulting in over $100,000 in damage. It happened just before midnight. The Bulls had defeated Portsmouth, 7-3 just hours earlier. Groundskeeper Walter Williams, who slept under the stands, escapes through the center field gate.

July 2, 1939

After a remarkable two-week construction period, DAP is functional. New and old parks are similar in design except that the wooden grandstand is replaced by steel and concrete. Stadium has a 1,000-seat grandstand and temporary bleachers. The Bulls beat the Charlotte Hornets, 11-4.