Pete Hill

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For other people named Pete or Peter Hill, see Peter Hill (disambiguation).
Pete Hill
Pete Hill.jpg
Born: (1882-10-12)October 12, 1882
Culpeper County, Virginia,
United States
Died: December 19, 1951(1951-12-19) (aged 69)
Buffalo, New York,
United States
Batted: Left Threw: Right
Professional debut
Negro Leagues: 1899 for the Pittsburgh Keystones
Last professional appearance
1925 for the Baltimore Black Sox
Career highlights and awards

Negro League Baseball

  • Lifetime batting average: .326
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted 2006
Election Method Committee on African-American Baseball

John Preston "Pete" Hill (October 12, 1882 – December 19, 1951) was an American outfielder and manager in baseball's Negro Leagues from 1899 to 1925. (Although older histories and Hill's former Hall of Fame plaque listed his full name as Joseph Preston Hill, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 12, 1880,[6][7] recent research has shown that his first name was "John," and that he was probably born in Culpeper County, Virginia on October 12, 1882, though some sources indicate a birth year of 1883 or 1884.)[8][9][10][11][12][13] He played for the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee Bears, and Baltimore Black Sox. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Early career[edit]

Hill batting for the Leland Giants in 1909.

Hill was born in Virginia and was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the time of the 1900 Census.[8] The 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), 215 pound Hill was considered the most important member of three of the most talented Negro League teams to ever play. From 1904 through 1907, he was the star left fielder for Sol White's great-hitting Philadelphia Giants. While with the Leland Giants, Rube Foster considered Hill his "field general" and it was his job to be almost a "second manager."

Also during this time, like many Negro League stars of the era, Hill spent some time in a few other leagues, mainly the Cuban Winter League. In 1910-11, he led the league in batting average (.365).

Soon after the great success of the Leland Giants (they went 123–6 against top Midwest competition, mostly semi-pro), Foster decided to form the Chicago American Giants, which chiefly consisted of Foster's best players from Leland, including Hill, who was made team captain.

In the first year of the American Giants' existence, Hill came to be known as one of its best hitters. He hit safely in 115 of 116 games that year against all levels of competition. While he faced mostly minor-league level opponents, some of his opposition consisted of major league quality pitching, including Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, Nap Rucker and Mordecai Brown.

Owner of the Homestead Grays and famous black baseball player, manager and executive Cumberland Posey once called Hill "the most consistent hitter of his time." He also maintained that the left-handed Hill could "hit both left-handers and right-handers equally well".

Besides being a top-class hitter, Hill was known to have great power, although not enough home run and RBI numbers were preserved for precise statistics, as was the case with other Negro League players.

While playing for Foster, the two had a close friendship and in 1919, Foster asked Hill to become the player/manager of the newly formed Detroit Stars. Hill was then 36 years old, but agreed to take on the job. By his third year, Hill was respected by his players and continued to hit, with an average of .388 in 1921 to lead the Stars.

After his stint with Detroit, Hill went on to play with three more Negro League clubs, also spending time in other leagues. As his playing career came to an end (he played his last game with the Baltimore Black Sox in 1925), Hill attempted to follow in Foster's footsteps and take a baseball front office job.

His final position in pro baseball was as the field manager of the 1924–25 Baltimore Black Sox.

Hill's recommissioned plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

In a poll taken in 1952 by the African-American weekly Pittsburgh Courier poll named Hill the fourth-best outfielder in Negro League history, behind Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin and Cristóbal Torriente. An all-star team compiled by Cumberland Posey in 1944 also listed Hill as one of the greatest Negro League outfielders.[14]

Hill died at age 69 in Buffalo, and was buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.[15]

Hill's original Hall of Fame plaque showed his name as "Joseph Preston Hill." Subsequent research using census, draft registration, and passenger list data indicated that his first name was "John," not "Joseph." In late July 2010, the Hall of Fame announced that it would commission a corrected plaque, which was unveiled at a ceremony on October 12, 2010 attended by Hill's relatives and researchers.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Ring Dem Bells Dem Golden Bells" Chester Times, Chester, PA, Saturday, July 19, 1902, Page 6, Columns 1 to 3
  2. ^ "Pottstown and Philadelphia Giants" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tuesday Morning, June 21, 1904, Page 10, Column 5
  3. ^ "Frank Lelands' Chicago Giants Base Ball Club" Fraternal Printing Company, 1910
  4. ^ "Bears Romp Away from Giants 8 to 1" The San Diego Union, San Diego, CA, Monday Morning, December 30, 1912, Page 8, Column 1
  5. ^ "Hilldale Team Wins" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, August 6, 1919, Page 12
  6. ^ Heaphy, Leslie. "Joseph Preston "Pete" Hill". Negro League Baseball Players Association. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  7. ^ Ashwill, Gary (August 13, 2009). "Redo?". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Ashwill, Gary (April 20, 2007). "Is Pete Hill's hall of fame plaque wrong?". Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  9. ^ Gorman, Kevin (January 7, 2010). "For Pete's sake, Hill family seeks truth". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  10. ^ Ashwill, Gary (July 30, 2009). "A Solution to the Mystery of Buena Vista". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  11. ^ Ashwill, Gary (July 30, 2009). "Pete Hill’s Family Confirmed". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  12. ^ Ashwill, Gary (November 24, 2008). "Pete Hill's Death Certificate". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  13. ^ Ashwill, Gary (April 20, 2007). "Is Pete Hill’s Hall of Fame Plaque Wrong?". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ashwill, Gary (November 8, 2010). "found: Pete Hill's grave". Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  16. ^ Kirkland, Kevin (August 8, 2010). "Penn Hills Man Wins Battle with Baseball Hall of Fame for His Great-Uncle: Cooperstown Plaque Has Wrong Name Inscribed for Early 1900s Player". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  17. ^ Kekis, John (October 12, 2010), Baseball Hall of Famer Pete Hill Gets a New Plaque,, retrieved October 16, 2010 

Further reading[edit]

  • Riley, James A. (1994). "Hill, J. Preston (Pete)". The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf. pp. 381–82. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6. 
  • (Riley.) Pete Hill, Personal profiles at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. – identical to Riley (confirmed 2010-04-16)

External links[edit]