It was Memorial Day of 1946 in Buffalo, New York. In a local park, a large picnic was being held. Most of those in attendance were Negro employees of the Curtiss-Wright Airplane factory in Buffalo. There was sadness in the air, because the company had laid off most of the workers and announced the plant would close by December.
But a war had been won, and that was what mattered most of all.
Off to one side, a pickup baseball game was being played. Boys from eight years and up had divided up into two teams, which included mostly adults.
The oldest player was “Uncle John” who was well into his 60s. John wasn’t a good runner anymore.
He had suffered a couple of bouts with the gout, and so he was dispatched to play first base that day.
Uncle John moved slowly, and he liked to crack jokes and grin a lot. But when he stood at the plate, he became quite serious. Time after time he came up to bat and walloped the horsehide into oblivion.
The strong young men there were amazed as they watched the elderly gent repeatedly slam baseballs over the heads of the outfielders and into the woods.
It was Pete Hill’s last game of baseball, the sport he loved.
Although he is not remembered today, Pete Hill was one of the all-time greats. He was comparable to Ty Cobb, but with more power. He was a great fielder and a dangerous base runner. Like Cobb, he had a fiery disposition.
He got into a disagreement with an umpire once, and the ump pulled a pistol and used it to club Pete on the nose. The stadium erupted into a riot and the game was forfeited.
Hill spent 27 years in Negro baseball as both a player and manager. During most of his career, he was the best hitter, fielder, and baserunner in black baseball.
He retired when team transportation switched from trains to buses – Uncle John always hated to ride in a bus.
This card was issued by Lone Star Printing