Established as a boys team in 1910, the Hilldales were developed by their early manager, then owner Ed Bolden to be one of the powerhouse Negro league baseball teams. They won the first three Eastern Colored League pennants beginning in 1923 and in 1925 won the second Colored World Series. Hall of Fame player Judy Johnson was a Hilldale regular for most its professional era with twelve seasons in fifteen years 1918–1932. Pitcher Phil Cockrell played for Hilldale throughout those years. Oscar Charleston, Biz Mackey, Louis Santop, Chaney White, and Jesse "Nip" Winters were also important Hilldale players in the 1920s.
|Hilldale Athletic Club|
|League titles||1923 • 1924 • 1925|
|Negro World Series titles||1925|
Ed Bolden founded the team in 1910 as an amateur athletic club for local young men. Devere Thompson was the first manager but Bolden took over as manager himself before the end of the first season. The club incorporated November 1916, as Hilldale Baseball and Exhibition Company, and began to hire some established players. Spot Poles and Bill Pettus led the 1917 team to a 23-15-1 record.
Hilldale and the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants played as eastern "Associates" of the western Negro National League in 1920 and 1921. In the latter season they held a four game series in September with the winner to face the NNL champion Chicago American Giants. After both teams won two games, the American Giants traveled east to play one series each. Chicago defeated the Bacharach Giants 2-1-1 but Hilldale beat Chicago 3-2-1.
Hilldale was a charter member of the Eastern Colored League in 1923 and won the first-place pennants in 1923, 1924, and 1925. They lost the inaugural, 1924 Colored World Series to the Kansas City Monarchs five games to four (with one tie). Next season they won a rematch with the Monarchs five games to one. The 1925 club featured star catcher and cleanup hitter Biz Mackey, third baseman Judy Johnson, and outfielder Clint Thomas. Player-manager Frank Warfield's pitching staff was led by left-handed ace Nip Winters and spitballer Phil Cockrell. Hilldale dropped to third in 1926 and fifth in 1927.
Frustrated by the league's lack of organization, Bolden withdrew his club from the ECL prior to the 1928 season. When the American Negro League was organized in 1929, Hilldale joined, but the league lasted only one season. Bolden was subsequently forced out of club management, and Hilldale corporation member Lloyd Thompson assumed control of the club in 1930. He had been the a 14-year-old infielder on the original boys team twenty years earlier, when his older brother had been the manager. After a single season, the team was purchased by John Drew, who ran the club until its final collapse in 1932.
During the Great Depression, Black urban unemployment hit as high as 50%. This negatively impacted attendance in the Negro leagues in the 1930s. Drew disbanded the ballclub in July 1932 after the combined attendance of two subsequent Saturday afternoon games at Hilldale Park totaled 295.
The Negro National League was formed in 1920. An official League business-card from that year lists the club as one of two "Associated Members" and identifies the club as "Hilldale, Darby, Pa." Unlike other teams listed with both location and team-name, no nickname is identified with Hilldale. (Hilldale was the club name, Darby the locale.)
While various nicknames were informally applied to the club including "Darby Daisies" and "Clan Darbie", the team was most commonly known simply as Hilldale or the Hilldales.
Hilldale did not have an official team logo as professional and collegiate teams have today. It was not common practice for teams to have such standardized team symbols in the 1910s and 1920s. They wore red and white. Their jerseys in the 1920s had "Hilldale" across the front in the style shown above as the "team logo". The club wore a red cap with a white plain-block capital H as seen above.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) created a series of team logos in the 1990s for the well-known Negro league teams so that the NLBM could license such logos and collect royalties for their use on merchandise. Such revenue helps sustain the museum. Hilldale was one such team for which a contemporary logo was created. It is seen on NLBM-licensed Hilldale Giants merchandise and while it supports the educational efforts of the Museum, it is not a historical logo.
Eastern Colored League Pennants
Colored World Series Championships
Hall of Famers
These Hall of Fame players were Hilldale team members during the listed seasons. Santop also played post-season with the team in 1917 and 1919, as Charleston did in 1926.
On October 14, 2006, over 500 individuals gathered for the dedication of a Pennsylvania Historical marker at the site of Hilldale's ballpark at McDade Boulevard and Cedar Streets in Yeadon ( ). The ceremony was attended by Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson, former Phillies player Garry Maddox, and Gene Dias, Phillies director of community relations,. Also attending were the four living members of the Negro league Philadelphia Stars, Bill Cash, Mahlon Duckett, Stanley Glenn, and Harold Gould, along with Ray Mackey, great grandnephew of former Hilldale and Stars player Biz Mackey. Area businessman John Bossong led the effort for the historical marker.
The marker is titled, "The Hilldale Athletic Club (The Darby Daisies)" and the text reads,
This baseball team, whose home was here at Hilldale Park, won the Eastern Colored League championship three times and the 1925 Negro League World Series. Darby fielded Negro League teams from 1910 to 1932. Notable players included baseball hall of fame members Pop Lloyd, Judy Johnson, Martin Dihigo, Joe Williams, Oscar Charleston, Ben Taylor, Biz Mackey, and Louis Santop. Owner Ed Bolden helped form the Eastern Colored League.
The year 2010 marked the centenary of the club's founding. Bossong worked with the Darby Historical Commission to construct a Walk of Fame alongside the site of the Historical Marker. The celebration was organized by the Hilldale 100 committee. The Walk of Fame honors former-Hilldale owners Bolden and Drew, as well as team batboy and contemporary area-resident Ed Bacon.
Hilldale Kitchen is a themed restaurant based on the Giants created by community developers and Darby Mayor Helen Thomas. The restaurant's walls are filled with images and celebrations of the Giants. The Hilldale Kitchen opened on March 6, 2011.
James Raleigh "Biz" Mackey (July 27, 1897 – September 22, 1965) was an American catcher and manager in Negro league baseball. He played for the Indianapolis ABC's (1920–22), New York Lincoln Giants (1920), Hilldale Daisies (1923–31), Philadelphia Royal Giants (1925), Philadelphia Stars (1933–35), Washington and Baltimore Elite Giants (1936–39), and Newark Dodgers/Eagles (1935, 1939–41, 1945–47, 1950).
Mackey came to be regarded as black baseball's premier catcher in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His superior defense and outstanding throwing arm were complemented by batting skill which placed him among the Negro leagues' all-time leaders in total bases, RBIs and slugging percentage, while hitting .322 for his career. Mackey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.Cleveland Tigers (baseball)
The Cleveland Tigers were a Negro league baseball team in the Negro National League, based in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1928. In their only season, they finished in seventh place with a 20-59 record.Clint Thomas
Clinton Cyrus "Hawk" Thomas (November 25, 1896 – December 2, 1990) was a professional baseball player born in Greenup, Kentucky. He was an outfielder and second baseman in the Negro leagues from 1920 to 1938, where he earned the nickname "Hawk" for his sharp-eyed hitting and center field skills.Eastern Colored League
The Mutual Association of Eastern Colored Clubs, more commonly known as the Eastern Colored League (ECL), was one of the several Negro leagues, which operated during the time organized baseball was segregated.Frank Warfield
Francis Xavier Warfield (April 26, 1897 – July 24, 1932) was an infielder and manager in the Negro leagues.George Johnson (baseball)
George Washington "Dibo" Johnson (April 20, 1890 – August 6, 1940) was an American baseball outfielder in the Negro Leagues.
He played from 1918 to 1931, playing mostly with the Hilldale Club.On July 6, 1918, Johnson broke his leg in a game.Jake Stephens
Paul Eugene "Country Jake" Stephens (February 10, 1900 – February 5, 1981) was an American baseball player known for his slight stature, speed, and defense at the shortstop position. He played in the Negro leagues for 4 different teams from (1921 to 1937).John Henry Lloyd
John Henry "Pop" Lloyd (April 25, 1884 – March 19, 1964), nicknamed "El Cuchara", was an American baseball shortstop and manager in the Negro leagues. He is generally considered the greatest shortstop in Negro league history, and both Babe Ruth and Ted Harlow, a noted sportswriter, reportedly believed Lloyd to be the greatest baseball player ever.He was a heavy hitter, usually batting cleanup during his prime, but also knew how to play "inside baseball," and was an expert place-hitter and bunter. Lloyd was also a renowned shortstop, ranked by most experts as second only to Dick Lundy among black shortstops before integration, and was referred to as the "Black Wagner," a reference to Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Famer Honus Wagner. (On Lloyd, Wagner said "It's an honor to be compared to him.")Known for his gentlemanly conduct, Lloyd was probably the most sought-after African-American player of his generation. "Wherever the money was, that's where I was," he once said. His career record bears this out, showing him constantly moving from team to team.Judy Johnson
William Julius "Judy" Johnson (October 26, 1899 – June 15, 1989) was an American professional third baseman and manager whose career in Negro league baseball spanned 17 seasons, from 1921 to 1937. Slight of build, Johnson never developed as a power threat but achieved his greatest success as a contact hitter and an intuitive defenseman. Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest third basemen of the Negro leagues. In 1975, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame after being nominated by the Negro Leagues Committee.
From 1921 to 1929, Johnson was a member of the Hilldale Daisies ball club and became an on-the-field leader respected for his professional disposition. His consistent swing and fielding prowess helped the Daisies win three straight pennants in the Eastern Colored League and the 1925 Colored World Series. After serving as a player manager for the Homestead Grays followed by the Daisies in the early 1930s, Johnson signed with the Pittsburgh Crawfords; as a part of the vaunted Crawford line-up of 1935, Johnson contributed to a team widely considered the greatest in Negro league history. He retired in 1937 after a short second stint with the Grays.
Following his retirement from baseball as a player, Johnson became a scout for Major League Baseball teams. He was hired as an assistant coach by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1954, becoming one of the first African Americans signed to a coaching position on a major league ball club. In his later years, Johnson served on the Negro Leagues Committee and stepped down in 1975 to accept his hall of fame nomination. He suffered a stroke in 1988 and died a year later.Louis Santop
Louis Santop Loftin (January 17, 1890 – January 22, 1942) was an African-American baseball catcher in the Negro leagues. He became "one of the earliest superstars" and "black baseball's first legitimate home-run slugger" (Riley), and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.Namon Washington
Namon Arthur "Cy" Washington (June 20, 1894 – May, 1971) was an American baseball outfielder in the Negro Leagues. He played with several teams from 1920 to 1930, playing mostly with the Indianapolis ABCs and the Hilldale Club.Negro World Series
The Negro World Series was a post-season baseball tournament that was held from 1924 to 1927 and from 1942 to 1948 between the champions of the Negro leagues, matching the mid-western winners against their east-coast counterparts. The series was also known as the Colored World Series, especially during the 1920s, and as the Negro League World Series, in more recent books, though contemporary black newspapers usually called it simply, the "World Series", without any modification.Nip Winters
James Henry "Jesse" "Nip" Winters, Jr. (1899 in Washington, D.C. – December 1971 in Hockessin, Delaware) was a pitcher in Negro league baseball, playing for many top eastern teams from 1920 to 1933, and considered one of the top left-handed pitchers of his day.
At age 53, Winters received votes listing him on the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro Leagues' best players ever.Otto Briggs
Otto "Mirror" Briggs (April 7, 1891 – October 28, 1943) was an American baseball outfielder in the Negro Leagues.
He played from 1915 to 1934, playing mostly with the Hilldale Club and the Bacharach Giants.Philadelphia Tigers
The Philadelphia Tigers were a Negro league baseball team that played briefly in the 1928 Eastern Colored League before the circuit disbanded in early June. The Tigers, organized by Smittie Lucas, featured a few well-known east coast players, such as Bill Yancey, George Johnson, and McKinley Downs, but no real stars.
After the ECL fell apart, the Tigers struggled on as a marginal independent team into July before calling it quits.Red Ryan (baseball)
Merven John "Red" Ryan (July 11, 1897 – August, 1969) was an American baseball pitcher in the Negro Leagues. He played from 1919 to 1932 with several teams, playing mostly with the Hilldale Club.Rube Currie
George Reuben "Rube" Currie (October 10, 1898 – June 11, 1966) was an American pitcher and manager in Negro league baseball. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Currie made his debut for the Chicago Union Giants in 1919 before coming back to his hometown to star for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Newspaper references of the day often spelled his last name "Currie"; however, historians believe his name was actually spelled "Curry," citing his World War I draft registration card; he was also nicknamed "Black Snake" or "King".
In 1918, 19 year-old Curry registered for the WWI draft. He lists his occupation as "Laborer" for the Armour or Armourdale Company in Kansas City, Kansas. He lists his address as 1723 Woodland Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, a location that is about two blocks from today's Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He also lists his nearest relative as Nelson Curry, living at the same address. Known for his curveball and control, Currie is rated among the best pitchers of his day, and played in all four of the Negro World Series.
Currie managed in later years, coaching the East team in the 1936 East–West game.Scrip Lee
Holsey Scranton Scriptus Lee, Sr. (January 29, 1899 – February 13, 1974) was an African-American baseball pitcher in the Negro Leagues. He played from 1921 to 1934 with several teams. He was nicknamed both Scrip and Script.Before his Negro Leagues career, Lee served in the National Guard, fighting against Pancho Villa's forces at the Mexican border in 1916. He also served in the 372nd Infantry during World War I, earning two battle stars and a Purple Heart.Webster McDonald
Webster "Mac" McDonald (January 1, 1900 – June 12, 1982) was an American baseball pitcher in the Negro Leagues. He played from 1920 to 1940 with several teams.In the 1928 to 1930 seasons, McDonald was scouted by and went to play for a white team in Minnesota, where he was often the only African American player on the team. Joining him in later seasons were Negro Leagues players Hooks Foreman, and Dave Brown "aka" Lefty Wilson.
At age 52, McDonald received votes listing him on the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro Leagues' best players ever.
Hilldale Club 1925 Colored World Series Champions
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Category: Defunct sports teams in Pennsylvania