Prior to the Civil War, baseball was restricted to cities in the Northeast and Midwest US. However, during the War, teams of soldiers would play baseball games.
Company H, 48th NY Regiment, pose for this 1863 portrait at Fort Pulaski, Savannah, Ga., with a baseball game in progress behind them. One of earliest known photographs of a baseball game. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Octavius Catto is a Forgotten Hero
In 1866, Philadelphia's first African-American team, the Excelsior Base Ball Club, formed, and they called this team the Pythian Baseball Club. Octavius Catto served as field captain and manager of the Pythians.
The Pythians proved themselves against other African American clubs, and sought to play white clubs as well. They were faced with many barriers and ultimately barred from playing.
Catto and the Pythians would persevere, and in 1869 the Pythians would square off against the white Olympics club in the first ever match-up between Black and White baseball teams. Despite coming up short against the Olympics, they proved to be more than a worthy opponent. The Pythians would later compete against other white clubs, again proving themselves to be worthy.
Team photo of the 1906 Philadelphia Giants, who followed in the footsteps of the former Pythians co-founded by Octavius Catto. The Giants captured the "World's Colored Champions". (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Though achieving victories on the baseball diamond, Catto continued to pursue equal rights, but on election day fell victim to violence and was killed. After his death, the Pythian Baseball Club ceased to compete, though individual members continued to play. The Pythian name would reappear in 1886.
Celebrate baseball’s pioneers by wearing the colors of the Negro Leagues. https://teambrownapparel.com/collections/nlbm