Diamond in the Rough: Octavius Catto and the Quest for Black Manhood (1833-1871)

Thomas Di Benedetto
Undoubtedly the most well-known African American associated with baseball in America is Jackie Robinson, who, in 1947, broke the color line to become the first black player in the Major Leagues. Far less famous is the African American central to the creation of that line nearly eighty years earlier: Octavius Valentine Catto. However, Catto's aim was not the establishment of a color line. It was just the opposite, in fact, as Octavius was merely the first black ballplayer to seek entry into the
more » ... eek entry into the National Association of Baseball Players (NABBP), the nation's original governing body of baseball. Needless to say, his application was rejected, followed shortly after by a formal ban of African Americans from the league. Yet, this campaign was just one of many led by Octavius Catto during his inspiring mid-nineteenth century career as a black activist in Philadelphia, a career as fascinating as any other in the Civil Rights movement, including Jackie Robinson.
doi:10.7916/d8pk0p45 fatcat:ug3zdjhi2rd27ofk2oojjksh4q