Pete Hill: One of the Best Outfielders of “Deadball” Baseball Era

I did not totally forget to acknowledge the birthday of Negro League outfielder Pete Hill last week, born October 12, 1882 – 84.  If you follow me on Twitter, @Lasttraintocoop, you saw my tweet acknowledging it.  Please excuse my unintended slight of him on this blog.  Hill, a fine fielder and consistent .300 plus hitter, is now considered one of the best outfielders in baseball during the “Deadball Era” (1900 – 1919).

hill-1

The National Baseball Hall of Fame agreed in 2006 with that assessment of Pete Hill.   He along with eleven other players and five executives all from Negro League baseball were inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown that year.  Hill’s induction gave him overdue recognition as a contemporary of Ty Cobb (1936 Hall of Fame inductee) and Tris Speaker (1937 Hall of Fame inductee), the best Major League outfielders of the early 20th Century.

The following is an excerpt from my book Last Train in Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era, in which I profile Pete Hill and the other 2006 inductees from Negro League baseball.

“In 1901, Hill left Pittsburgh for New York to play for the Cuban X

Giants.  Being only 21, he could not break into the starting lineup to

play regularly.  But, the young outfielder caught the eye of Sol White,

manager of the X Giants’ main rival, the Philadelphia Giants.  White

recruited Hill to play for his team in 1903.

 

With the Philadelphia Giants, he began to mature as a ballplayer.

In 1904, he was the center fielder for what many say was the best

black team of the early 20th century era.  With Hill leading the way,

the Giants were proclaimed winners of the “Colored Championship

of the World” in 1904, 1905, and 1906.  This was the title given to

the top black team on the east coast.  Charles “Kid” Carter, James

Booker, Charlie Grant, Emmett Bowman, and Dan McClellan were

other good players on the Giants with Hill.

 

Another teammate of Hill was Andrew “Rube” Foster. Foster at

that time was one of the best pitchers in black baseball.  He would

later become the “father” of Negro League baseball and a member

of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The friendship with Foster would have

a major influence on the remainder of Pete Hill’s baseball career.

After the 1906 season, Foster left the Philadelphia Giants to

become the manager for the Chicago Leland Giants.  He took six of

his Philadelphia Giants teammates with him, including Pete Hill.

 

Under the leadership of Rube Foster, Hill’s career blossomed

with the Chicago team.  He was the team captain and was taught the

ins and outs of managing by his friend.  Hill continued to build on

his reputation as a great hitter and the Leland Giants became one of

the most dominant African-American teams in the country’s

heartland.”

Pete Hill Blog picture

To read more about Pete Hill and the Negro League baseball era Last Train to Cooperstown

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