Pete Hill

Black Baseball’s First Superstar


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About the Book

Among early 20th century baseball players, John Preston “Pete” Hill (1882–1951) was considered the equal of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker—only skin color kept him out of the majors. A capable manager, Hill captained the Negro League’s Chicago-based American Giants, led two expansion teams and retired from the sport as manager of the Baltimore Black Sox. Drawing on contemporary newspaper accounts, this first ever biography of Hill recounts the career of a neglected Hall of Famer in the context of the turbulent issues that surrounded him—segregation, women’s suffrage, Prohibition and the Spanish flu.

About the Author(s)

Bob Luke is the author of six books about baseball and race in America. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Bob Luke
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 226
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8877-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4781-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. From Buena, Virginia, to Philly 15
2. On the Way to Chicago 25
3. The Hills Arrive in Chicago 37
4. The Rambling Giants 51
5. Racial Conflict On and Off the Field 68
6. Riots and the Noble Experiment 79
7. The Spanish Flu 88
8. President Wilson and the Suffragists 101
9. Pete Hill on His Own 109
10. Finally: A League for Black Baseball 121
11. Year Two in Detroit 133
12. On to Baltimore 143
13. Pete’s Final Moves 154
14. Hall of Fame 162
Epilogue 169
Chapter Notes 179
Bibliography 201
Index 205

Book Reviews & Awards

• “A forgotten ball player comes to life in Bob Luke’s book.”—Ron Hill, great-nephew of Pete Hill

• “Author Bob Luke makes another valuable contribution to African American baseball history. Anyone interested in knowing more about Pete Hill, pre-Negro League competition and the Negro Leagues fan of the early 1920s, should have this book on their shelf.”—Barry Sparks, author of Frank “Home Run” Baker: World Series Hero and Hall of Famer

• “The great ballplayers of the Negro leagues labored behind a curtain of obscurity, racism, and neglect. Bob Luke has done an admirable job of clearing away the cobwebs and putting the career of Pete Hill into sharp relief against the texture of his times. Early Black players such as Hill are notoriously difficult to research, and this book is the most complete accounting of his life anyone has produced.”—Gary Ashwill, Agate Type blog and the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database