July 27 is the birthday of Ferdinand J. Accooe, one of the original members of the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn. Accooe also played for numerous other teams. He was born in 1889.
Ferdinand Accooe as a New York All Star.
The Smart Set were the first independent African American basketball team, formed in 1907.
Accooe played at the guard position.
He later joined the New York All Stars, which in 1910 became the first black team to play basketball for pay under its promoter and manager, Major A. Hart.
When the All Stars were formed, the idea that they would pay for play was controversial and even radical. Some of the ill will was caused by the fact that Hart in effect stole for his own lineup a bunch of players off of the best teams in the New York area.
Thus the name, All Stars.
Some authorities criticized the move. But Accooe, who would later become a sports journalist, defended his new team.
In the first place we did not organize with the intention of breaking up any team or club, thought that seems to be the general thought among our opponents.
There is not a place where we have played, that we cannot get a return game. Therefore we must have made a favorable impression, because no manager will book a return game with an incapable team.
The All Stars lasted only a couple of seasons and thereafter Accooe returned to the Smart Set, only to be lured away again, this time by the St. Christopher Club.
Accooe was big as well as quick, a rare combination in those days. His considerable talent was in demand.
Within two seasons he switched teams again, jumping from St. Christopher to the newly formed New York City Incorporators. In that team’s official documents, Accooe was listed as a corporate director, and was appointed its president.
As such, Accooe may have been the first ever player-president of a professional basketball team.
In 1916, Accooe was named to an All American team that included Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, Cumberland Posey, and Walter Cooper — three of the all-time best players of the Black Fives Era.
The following season Accooe signed with the Carlton Colored Y.M.C.A. of Brooklyn, making the All American team once again.
He later played briefly with the Borough Athletic Club, also of Brooklyn, and the Monarch Five of Harlem, before retiring from basketball to write for the New York News and the Inter-state Tattler.
What made Ferdinand Accooe unique is that he appeared on so many historically important teams during the early part of the Black Fives Era.