Giants Retire Monte Irvin’s #20.
Pete Hill Gets New HOF Plaque
Ninety-one-year-old Monte Irvin, who became the first African American player with the New York Giants in 1949, had his No. 20 retired on June 26, 2010 during an on-field ceremony at AT&T Park before the San Francisco Giants took on the Boston Red Sox. “Now I feel like my life in baseball is complete,” Irvin told the sellout crowd.
His number was unveiled high above left field at the Legends Suite next to the No. 24 of Willie Mays, Irvin’s roomie in the early days.
It’s never too late to correct a mistake. The National Baseball Hall of Fame will be holding a special event to commemorate a new, corrected plaque for John Preston “Pete” Hill on October 12, 2010, what would have been Pete’s 128th birthday.
Recent work by a group of researchers has established his full name (John Preston Hill), birth date (October 12, 1882), birth place (Culpeper County, Virginia), and death date (December 19, 1951), and narrowed down his final resting place to nearby Chicago, Illinois (though the cemetery remains elusive).
Irvin made history in 1951 when he joined Mays and Hank Thompson to form the first all-ebony outfield.
Their investigations also resulted in identifying and contacting Pete’s living family members. The story of the rediscovery of Pete Hill is an exemplary one of cooperation between different researchers building on one another’s work over a period of years, using both traditional research methods and newly available electronic resources.
Irvin played in six East-West All-Star games and is one of only seven Negro League veterans to play in both an East-West game and a Major League All-Star game. Additionally, he is one of eight players to play in both a Negro League and Major League World Series. Finally, Irvin is one of nine HOFers to play in both the Negro Leagues and the Major Leagues.
Our congratulations to everyone who contributed to these efforts, especially Patrick Rock and Gary Ashwill (Negro League Committee members), Fred Worth (of SABR’s Biographical Committee), Zann Nelson (of Culpeper County), and Hill family members Leslie Hill Penn and Ron Hill.
SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee
Larry Lester Dick Clark
Co-chair, LarryLester42@gmail.com Co-chair,Tstearnes@comcast.net
Irvin hit .293 with 99 home runs in eight Major League seasons and helped the Giants win the 1954 World Series over the heavily favored Cleveland Indians, in a four-game sweep. Earlier, he led the National League in RBI’s with 121 in 1951.
The former Newark Eagle was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.
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