Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Brief History of Baseball in Philadelphia

On Saturday, the Phillies wore the uniforms of the Philadelphia Stars, a successful team from the Negro Leagues (as the segregated all–African American baseball competitions were known). Read Philly Fiction editor Christopher Munden's story about the history of baseball in Philadelphia, which touches upon the Stars and other now-defunct Philly baseball teams.

The article includes links to some good books about baseball in the city, including Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America, by Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin. Tasting Freedom is the first full-length biography of Octavius Catto, a star short-stop and baseball manager who was better known as a pioneering activist for voting rights and equal rights for African Americans in the years after the Civil War. Catto's struggles, which ended in his assassination on election day in 1871, closely mirror those which occurred in the American South a century later (Indeed, despite Pennsylvania's fight on the right side of the Civil War to end slavery, the racial climate in the state in the 1860s closely mirrors, and in many ways was worse than, that in the South 100 years later.) Catto is probably the only person who has been compared to both George Steinbrenner and Malcolm X. His is a great story and one which deserves to be more widely known.

A version of  "A Brief History of Baseball in Philadelphia" previously appeared in the Where Guestbook Philadelphia 2010/2011 as "In the Swing". Rights reverted to the author in May 2011.

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