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Fri, 11.17.1916

The Philadelphia Hilldale Baseball Team Formed

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*The Philadelphia Hilldale baseball team is celebrated on this date in 1916. 

The Hilldale Athletic Club (informally known as Darby Daisies) was a Negro Baseball League team based in Darby, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia.   Established as a boys’ team in 1910, the Hilldale’s were developed by their early manager, then owner 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 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 spitball ace 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 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. 

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