The History of the Philadelphia Pythians

Founded in 1865 by African-American leaders Jacob C. White Jr. and Octavius V. Catto (pictured below) established the team. The Pythians were composed of primarily business and middle class professionals from the surrounding areas of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. Just two years after the Civil War ended, in 1867, the Pennsylvania State Convention of Baseball, located in Harrisburg, denied the "Pythian Base Ball Club" out of Philadelphia. The team dissolved after Catto's death in 1871.
 
The team was originally known as the Independent Ball Club, a team of the Institute for Colored Youth. Due to the number members who belonged to the Knights of Pythias, the team was renamed the Pythians. The first full season took place in 1867 under Catto's leadership. Their first game was played at Diamond Cottage Park in Camden, New Jersey because the team could not gain access to the Parade Grounds at 11th and Wharton in Philadelphia. The team played their home games at Fairmount Park, but used Liberty Hall of the Institute for Colored Youth as their club house. 
 
In September 1869, the Pythians played against the all white Olympics; likely the first recorded instance of an interracial baseball game. Although the Pythians lost 44-23, the September 4th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the game inning for inning, noting the skill of the Pythians as well as the large size of the crowd. A few days later the Pythians played and beat the all-white Philadelphia City Items; a historic victory that Catto hoped would prove the capability of African Americans.

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