Jacob C. White, Jr. Historical Marker
State historical marker placed at the former residence of the prominent African American educator, businessman, and baseball player Jacob C. White, Jr. (1837-1902). White, along with his friend Octavius Catto, founded the one of the city's most important all-black baseball clubs, the Pythians.
Backstory and Context
In 1864, White became Philadelphia's first African American principal after being appointed to the position at the all-black Vaux elementary school. He made an immediate impact on the school and established himself as a civic leader. That same year he and Catto helped start the Pennsylvania Equal Rights League to advance the black suffrage movement.2
Later, in 1867, the two friends would found the Pythians Baseball Club of Philadelphia. The Pythians were an all-black team modeled on the successful white baseball clubs of the day. Beyond just being a sporting club, they were a social organization and their games were heavily attended community events, generally followed by large banquets. These all-day affairs served as meeting places for prominent black leaders to discuss the political issues of the time.3 White served as the team's secretary, often arranging their contests, as well as their second baseman and sometime manager.
Following Catto's politically motivated murder in 1871, the Pythians ceased to exist. White would continue to play an important role in Philadelphia's African American community, advocating for better educational opportunities for children and jobs for black teachers. In the 1890s, he would help start the American Negro Historical Society and bequeathed to them his extensive records of Pythians, which he had preserved for over 20 years.4