Re-cast Hall of Fame Plaque for Pre-Negro Leagues Star Pete Hill to Be Unveiled October 12

New Genealogical Research Leads to Formal Name Change for 2006 Inductee

September 28, 2010
Pete Hill was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Pete Hill's accomplishments as a pre-Negro leagues star in the early 20th century led to his posthumous induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, as part of a special election of candidates who emerged through a five-year study on the feats of Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues stars.

Though his baseball achievements defined his legacy in 2006, the man known as "Pete" Hill had a much different origin than information available to researchers and the baseball community at the time of his election.

Now, thanks to recently unearthed genealogical information by a group of dedicated researchers, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will recognize Hill's legacy with the unveiling of a re-cast Hall of Fame plaque to properly reflect his given name, as part of a celebration of Pete Hill Day on Tuesday, October 12 in Cooperstown.

Pete Hill's Hall of Fame plaque will be updated to reflect his given name – John Preston Hill – replacing the "Joseph Preston Hill" that originally appeared at his 2006 induction. Additionally, the official records in the Hall of Fame Library will reflect a change in his birthplace from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Culpeper, Va., on October 12, the day records indicate Hill was born, though his exact birth year, sometime between 1880 and 1884, remain unclear.

Hill was one of 17 legends elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006 following the work of the Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues project which, though a grant from Major League Baseball, researched baseball achievements by African Americans from 1860-1960.

"The Hall of Fame prides itself on historical accuracy, and we are pleased to take these steps, both in our records and with the re-casting of Pete Hill's plaque, to reflect the new information that has been unearthed since the induction of the Class of 2006," said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. "New research is always emerging, particularly on baseball pioneers from the 19th Century, and as a history museum it is our job to foster that research and further the knowledge that research creates. Thanks to the diligent work of researchers from inside and outside the Hall of Fame walls, Pete Hill's proper place in history will be preserved in perpetuity."

Research on Pete Hill's real identity was delivered to Cooperstown in December when Zann Nelson, a researcher and writer based in Culpeper County, Va., received an assignment on Hill from her editor at the Culpeper Star-Exponent. Hill was thought to have been born in Pittsburgh, Pa., but new information suggested that Hill was actually born in the Culpeper, Va. area. Using data such as census reports, Social Security documents and death certificates, Nelson produced a series of articles detailing Hill's roots and proper formal name, John Preston Hill. Earlier this year, a thorough review conducted by the Hall of Fame, using Nelson's research as a guide, confirmed the new research.

Ongoing baseball research has previously resulted in the recasting of Hall of Fame plaques, such as the plaque representing Roberto Clemente, which was recast in 2000 to present the correct version of his formal name "Roberto Clemente Walker." Other plaques have been re-cast since their unveiling, including most recently, Jackie Robinson's Hall of Fame plaque, which was updated in 2008 to reflect his role in breaking baseball's color barrier.

Pete Hill Day on October 12 will feature a 1 p.m. event to unveil the re-cast plaque, along with a special program on Hill's achievements at 2:30 p.m. Also on October 12, the Hall of Fame will formally update records reflecting Hill's birthplace and formal name, as the original research will be added to the Library and Pete Hill's file.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an independent not-for-profit educational institution, dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime.

The Museum's collections contain more than 38,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing all facets of the game, from its inception in the mid-19th century to present. Three-dimensional artifacts include bats, baseballs, uniforms, player equipment, ballpark artifacts, awards, artwork, textiles, tickets, collectibles and assorted memorabilia. In addition, the Institution's archives contain in excess of 135,000 Baseball cards and three million Library items, including photographs, books, magazines, newspaper clippings, films, video and audio tapes.

Located on Main Street in the heart of picturesque Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the country's major tourist destinations and is surely the best-known sports shrine in the world. Opening its doors for the first time on June 12, 1939, the Hall of Fame has stood as the definitive repository of the game's treasures and as a symbol of the most profound individual honor bestowed on an athlete. It is every fan's "Field of Dreams," with its stories, legends and magic to be passed on from generation to generation.

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