“The Alphas, stocky and good looking, took the court early in the evening.”
— The New York Age, 1909
Team: Alpha Physical Culture Club
Home: New York City
Archie Thomas was the star player of the all-black Alpha Physical Culture Club’s original basketball team, one of the first in the country, formed in 1907.
Thomas was not only the team’s organizer and manager but also its captain. He was solidly built and a consistent scoring threat at the forward position, leading the lineup that claimed the 1912-13 Colored Basketball World’s Championship.
In the early days of basketball, a team’s organizer and manager played a vital role. In addition to scheduling and day-to-day operations, Thomas also had to make sure that the Alpha club (and the sport itself) maintained a spot at the front and center of the social scene.
Thus, after one game towards the end of the 1909 season, the Alpha Physical Culture Club held a “ladies night” reception at its new club house on 134th Street in Harlem to toast the team amid some fanfare.
“The rooms were handsomely decorated,” it was reported, “and the many guests present were more than pleased at the preparations made for their entertainment.” Then, when the moment arrived for which the ladies-in-waiting were waiting, “the basketball team was given a rousing cheer by the members and friends for their splendid work during the season.”