Philadelphia Panthers

The official logo of the Philadelphia Panthers

The official logo of the Philadelphia Panthers.

Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Nickname: “Philadelphia’s Representative Team”
Colors: Black, Gray

The Philadelphia Panthers were an all-black basketball team of the 1910s and 1920s.

Philadelphia Panthers photo collage

The Panthers grew out of the city’s Christian Street (a.k.a. Southwest”) Colored YMCA in the late 1910s, when Philadelphia emerged as a black basketball power base with such teams as nearby Lincoln University, the Vandals and Buccaneers of Atlantic City, the Briscoe Five, and the Southwest Scholastics.

They were so successful and popular that African Americans in the City of Brotherly Love, insofar as black basketball was concerned, embraced them as “Philadelphia’s Representative Team.”

The biggest stars on the semi-pro Panthers were tall homegrown center Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, Jackie Bethards, and Billy Yancey, a two-sport athlete who also played pro baseball as a shortstop for the New York Lincoln Giants and the Hilldale Club. All three men later played for the New York Renaissance, and Cooper was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

Quote of the Month

“The wonder-player of ten or even five years ago lives only in the memory of contemporary worshipers of his brief scintillating days in the limelight. His picture hung on the walls of his Alma Mater, his name on a cup, a book of clippings, and the record of his team connect him with the string of those gone to live only in reminiscences.”
– Edwin Bancroft Henderson, 1939

© 2003-2014 The Black Fives Foundation.
All rights reserved.