Cricket in Philadelphia – A Quick History

To Americans generally, cricket is a novelty sport with some resemblance to baseball. That resemblance isn’t by coincidence: the reality is that cricket is the granddaddy of American baseball — a game that reached its high point in Philadelphia in the mid-1800s when there were about 300 amateur clubs in the region, including at least a dozen high school teams.

The Philadelphia Cricket Club's wicket (pictured above) dates to the club’s founding in 1854. Photo courtesy of the C.C. Morris Cricket Library Association, the main sponsor of the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival, a four-day spring event featuring teams from around the world.

The Philadelphia Cricket Club's wicket (pictured above) dates to the club’s founding in 1854. Photo courtesy of the C.C. Morris Cricket Library Association, the main sponsor of the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival, a four-day spring event featuring teams from around the world.

Interest in the sport began to wane around the turn of the century, as Philadelphians traded their horse-drawn carriages for automobiles and began driving to places like the Poconos, the Jersey Shore, or New England for their recreation, and switched to games like football and baseball with shorter duration — a couple of hours, versus an entire day.

The resurgence of cricket in America began in the 1970’s with the influx of immigrants from the former British Empire where it is the national sport. By the mid-1980s in Philadelphia, seven clubs had come together to form the Philadelphia Cricket League.

The seven modern-day pioneers were Echelon, RCA, Ardmore, Bimshire, International, University of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College where the game has been played almost continuously since shortly after the school's founding in 1833.

Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Cricket Club, and Germantown Cricket Club are among the survivors of that era, though they currently are better known for their lawn tennis and golfing facilities.

Today, the Philadelphia metropolitan region, which includes Delaware and South Jersey, boasts of being home to dozens of clubs in a host of leagues.

The Germantown Cricket Club, founded in 1854, is one of the venues for the annual Philadelphia International Cricket Festival. (Photo by Ewart Rouse. All rights reserved).

The Germantown Cricket Club, founded in 1854, is one of the venues for the annual Philadelphia International Cricket Festival. (Photo by Ewart Rouse. All rights reserved).