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Jacob White, Jr.

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

Jacob C. White Jr. (1837-1902) was the son of a preacher in Philadelphia who grew into one of the city's most prominent businessmen. With his friend Octavius Catto, Jake founded and helped lead the Pythians, one of the first and most successful black baseball clubs of its day in America. Catto was the fiery on-field presence that galvanized the Pythians into a force on the national scene as baseball and the country emerged from the darkness of Civil War. But he depended on his childhood pal to help fund the club and give it necessary administration. White had earlier demonstrated the gifts of organization and leadership Catto needed when he took over the Robert Vaux school in 1864, taking it from a damp church basement struggling to help a few dozen black kids to a noted institution whose legacy continues today. Thanks to White's intellectual bent, the Pythians were as unlike the typical white ball clubs of the time as possible. The Club shared quarters with the Banneker Institute, also founded by White. The Pythians were refined gentlemen representing the elite of black society in Philadelphia. They were as interested in scholarly debate, abolition, desegregation and civil rights as they were in playing ball. Catto and White tried to join the National Association of Base Ball Players and, despite the support of the Athletics, were rejected. Eventually, in 1869 the club did get one chance to play a white team, the Philadelphia City Items, and walloped them 27-17.

  • White was the promoter of a distincive feature of black baseball in Philadelphia: an all-day celebration of sport and fellowship which invariably ended with a banquet organized by Jake
  • When his best friend and partner Catto was assassinated in the lead-up to the 1870 elections, a grieving White stepped away from the game he loved but continued to serve his city for decades

Auction History

Frank Jones

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Washington, D.C.
  • Team: Nationals
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

Colonel Frank Jones, Cmdr of the 31st NY Regiment, former Excelsior of Brooklyn player, and then Treasury official, was pres. of the Washington Nationals in 1867. He had recruited top NY players such as George Wright to create a powerhouse. Their tour of the West, covered by “Father Henry” Chadwick, brought baseball to the national consciousness.

  • The Nats’ thrashing of Harry Wright’s famed Red Stockings prompted him to build the 1st openly professional team
  • Nats’ only loss on the tour was to Al Spalding’s Forest City club

Auction History