Albertson: Octavius Catto and the Pythian Base Ball Club

From SABR member Matt Albertson at Philliedelphia on February 11, 2016:

Baseball is reflective of American society; from ideas of masculinity in the 1860’s-1870’s to baseball as a labor struggle during the 1880’s and up to the present day. Baseball has always been, and probably will remain, a microcosm of American society. But arguably the largest societal issue to impact the game was race. In recognition of Black History Month, I’ll provide an overview of race as it relates to Philadelphia baseball history by covering a few key figures and events. Today’s installment will focus on Octavius Catto and the Pythian Club of Philadelphia. 

Baseball historians agree today that baseball is an evolutionary game, not a game devised by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. The first true organized club in Philadelphia – comprised of members who paid dues and attended meetings – was the Olympic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, formally organized in 1831. The Olympics played a crucial role in baseball’s social evolution as they were the first all-white club to accept a challenge to play an all-black team, the Philadelphia Pythians and club founder Octavius Catto.

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Originally published: February 11, 2016. Last Updated: February 11, 2016.