October 12, 1882|
Culpeper County, Virginia,
|Died: December 19, 1951
Buffalo, New York,
|Negro leagues debut|
|1899, for the Pittsburgh Keystones|
|1925, for the Baltimore Black Sox|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|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. He played for the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee Bears, and Baltimore Black Sox. Hill starred for teams owned by Negro league executive Rube Foster for much of his playing career.
Though he was thought to have been born Joseph Preston Hill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 12, 1880, recent research has shown that Hill's first name was John and that he was probably born on October 12, 1882 in Culpeper County, Virginia; some sources indicate a birth year of 1883 or 1884. Hill lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the time of the 1900 Census.
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. Author William NcNeil referred to Hill as "black baseball's first superstar", citing Hill's speed, his strong throwing arm, and his ability to hit for batting average or for power. He spent much of his career playing for teams run by Negro league pioneer Rube Foster. Foster usually built his teams around Hill.
From 1904 through 1907, he was the star left fielder for Sol White's great-hitting Philadelphia Giants. 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).
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.
Cumberland Posey, owner of the Homestead Grays and famous black baseball player, manager and executive, 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.
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.
Hill was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 along with 16 other Negro league and pre-Negro league figures. In late July 2010, the Hall of Fame announced that it would commission a new plaque to correct Hill's name from Joseph Preston Hill to John Preston Hill. The new plaque was unveiled at a ceremony on October 12, 2010 attended by Hill's relatives and researchers.
- "Ring Dem Bells Dem Golden Bells" Chester Times, Chester, PA, Saturday, July 19, 1902, Page 6, Columns 1 to 3
- "Pottstown and Philadelphia Giants" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tuesday Morning, June 21, 1904, Page 10, Column 5
- "Frank Lelands' Chicago Giants Base Ball Club" Fraternal Printing Company, 1910
- "Bears Romp Away from Giants 8 to 1" The San Diego Union, San Diego, CA, Monday Morning, December 30, 1912, Page 8, Column 1
- "Hilldale Team Wins" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, August 6, 1919, Page 12
- Heaphy, Leslie. "Joseph Preston "Pete" Hill". Negro league Baseball Players Association. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- Gorman, Kevin (January 7, 2010). "For Pete's sake, Hill family seeks truth". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
- "Pete Hill Negro league Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- "The Base Ball Spirit In The East." Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, December 25, 1909, Page 7, Columns 1 and 2
- "Manley first woman voted into Hall". Lawrence Journal-World. February 28, 2006. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- 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.
- 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)