Philadelphia Negro Leaguer Bill Francis to have grave marker installed

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at on February 26, 2014:

Philadelphia is, remarkably, a baseball city known for its third basemen. Four of the hot corner players in the Hall of Fame were inducted as members of Quaker City teams, earning renown not only for themselves but also for the city they represented.

But instead of a spot in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, one Philadelphia-born third sacker — one much respected by both his contemporaries and historians — has been long forgotten. His place in the history of America’s pastime has for decades been an unmarked grave hundreds of miles from his hometown.

But, that, at least, will soon change, when William Henry “Bill” Francis, who is anonymously buried in Chicago’s Lincoln Cemetery, becomes the latest beneficiary of the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project, which places stones at the final resting places of the league’s players. Such a development perhaps takes on extra significance now, during Black History Month.

NLBGMP president Jeremy Krock said Lincoln Cemetery is a place where numerous other Negro League figures rest. Krock said Francis deserves recognition as one of the best, if overlooked, segregation-period hardballers.

“It takes some research for one to recognize that Billy Francis was one of the premier Negro Leagues players in the early 1900’s, playing on some of the finest deadball-era teams,” Krock said.

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Originally published: February 26, 2014. Last Updated: February 26, 2014.