From Jeff Arnold at The PostGame on February 25, 2015, with mention of SABR member Jeremy Krock:
What is it like to chase after a ghost, uncertain where the journey will lead?
What steps does one follow to string together the life of a baseball Hall of Famer who was born in Virginia, died at a bus stop in Buffalo, and who was buried in an unmarked grave outside of Chicago?
What does having some closure mean to a family that, until only a handful of years ago, wasn’t even aware of the legacy left by an ancestor who impacted a game by pre-dating the game’s biggest names?
Ask anyone who has chased after the memory of Pete Hill and the answers start to come together.
This is a story told in reverse. See, to understand where Pete Hill came from, one must first understand where he ended up. It’s a search that begins in a cemetery on Chicago’s South Side, where it was believed that Pete Hill — inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 and then re-inducted in 2010 — had been laid to rest more than 50 years ago.
But the search continues when one walks through the resting place where Pete Hill was likely to be found among the gravesites of many of his fellow Negro Leaguers — only to discover that it wasn’t ever there.
So what’s it like to chase after a ghost, uncertain where the journey will lead?
Ask a 29-year-old budding documentary filmmaker, a middle-aged anesthesiologist and the great nephew of one of the greatest Negro baseball players ever, and the answers start to come together.
But as each of them discovered, putting the pieces of Pete Hill’s life doesn’t come easy.
- Related link: Donate to the SABR Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project, which locates the gravesites of former ballplayers from the Negro Leagues and adorns them with proper headstones
Originally published: February 25, 2015. Last Updated: February 25, 2015.