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Octavius Catto

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Pythian B.B.C.
  • League: National Colored Baseball League

Octavius Valentine Catto (1839-1871) died a martyr for civil rights in Philadelphia amid violent Reconstruction Era political strife when he was shot three times and killed while on his way to vote. Only a few years before, he had been a pioneer in the early days of baseball as founder of the Pythian Base Ball Club in 1867. The emerging national game was shedding its elitist roots of pre-Civil War days and Catto was trying to make it a truly all-American sport. He sought membership for his club in the National Association and, in 1869, organized the first inter-racial match in Philadelphia versus the Olympic Ball Club. Catto had dedicated his life to the pursuit of freedom. He was an educator and mentor of black men, a military leader during the war, and ended his life in the forefront of the political struggle, including the integration of Philadelphia’s transit system. He brought to baseball the same passionate devotion that characterized his all-too-short life.

  • The “gentlemen’s agreement” adopted by white baseball executives in response to Catto’s bid held sway – with very few exceptions – until 1947 when another talented infielder finally broke the color barrier

Auction History

George Bechtel

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Whites (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

George A. Bechtel (1848-1921) led a life and career that mirrored the best and worst of baseball’s earliest days. He was a stand-out pitcher, fielder and hitter for amateur teams in the 1860s, a leader for four Philly teams in the NABBP 1867-70, and joined the Athletics when pro ball was born in ’71. He played in all five seasons of that foundational pro league before ending his tenure with the Louisville Grays in the NL’s inaugural season. Famed Henry Chadwick noticed anomalies in Bechtel’s game, untimely “errors” that cast suspicion on George’s integrity. Finally, an incriminating telegram offering to throw a game led to a lifetime ban.

  • Pitched every one of the Centennials’ 14-game season in ’75. Along with Bill Craver, became the first players sold to a rival team, returning him briefly to the Athletics

Auction History

Cap Anson

Third Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NABBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Adrian Constantine Anson (1852-1922) was Mr. Longevity, a big, brawling cyclone of controversy & batsmanship unrivaled in the early days of pro ball. He set hitting standards that only the greatest future players would approach or break. He also, by dint of his ferocious personality, may have been the single greatest force for segregation in baseball until Branch Rickey began to reverse that sad estate.

  • Played a record 27 consecutive years in the NL
  • First batter to 3000 hits, using his powerful arms to create line drives with a short swing
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1939

Auction History