The History of the Excelsior Club of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Excelsior Baseball Club

The Excelsior Base Ball Club was founded in Philadelphia in early 1866. Often credited as the first all African-American team in Philadelphia, the Excelsiors participated in the self-proclaimed First Colored Base Ball Championship on October 3,1867 and faced the Brooklyn Uniques. 

The Excelsiors, by all accounts, were the superior team, some observers going so far as to put them on a par with the best of the white Philadelphia clubs. The home-standing Uniques, meanwhile, were described by the New York Tribune as “second-rate opponents.” 

Once the contest got underway, attention focused on the umpire, Mr. Patterson, a black arbiter from the Bachelor Club of Albany. Disputes over his decisions were frequent and led both clubs to engage in various histrionics. 

In the next morning’s New York Herald, a reporter identified as Kelly described this plea from the captain of one of the squads following a call that seemed particularly unfair to his side: “Put on yer coats, put on yer coats, das all”, he was said to have yelled. Kelly found the game: “… rendered remarkably lively by such interludes…” 

The Excelsiors starting lineup for the contest against the Uniques:
1. Henry Price, 3B
2. George Scott, C
3. J.H. Francis, 2B
4. Harry Clark, P
5. Jessie Glascow, 1B
6. Thomas Irons, CF
7. E.R. Hutchinson, LF
8. Joseph Brister, RF
9. James Bracy, SS

Unlike their contemporary in the Pythians, there's very little recorded history regarding the Excelsiors aside from the contest against the Uniques. 

It appears the club faded into obscurity following the 1867 season as several players jumped over to the Pythians. 
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