The History of the Excelsior Club of Philadelphia ~ Philadelphia Baseball Review


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

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

Once the competition was launched, attention shifted to the referee, Mr. Patterson, a black referee from the Bachelor Club of Albany. Disputes over his decisions were frequent and led to the two clubs engaging in various antics.

In the New York Herald the following morning, 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 your coats, put on your coats, das all”, they say he shouted. Kelly found the game: “…made remarkably alive by such interludes…”

The starting line-up of the Excelsiors for the contest against the Uniques:

1. Henry Price, 3B

2. George Scott, C.

3. JH Francois, 2B

4. Harry Clark, P

5. Jessie Glasgow, 1B

6. Thomas Irons, FC

7. ER Hutchinson, LF

8. Joseph Brister, RF

9. James Bracy, SS

Unlike their contemporary in the Pythians, there is very little recorded history regarding the Excelsiors outside of the contest against the Uniques.

It seems the club fell into obscurity after the 1867 season as several players jumped to the Pythians.


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