Pete Hill, outfielder, Negro League & pre-Negro League (left). Eppa Rixey, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies & Cincinnati Reds (right)
I’m delighted to announce that I have been invited to speak about the lives and careers of Culpeper Virginia’s two National Baseball Hall of Fame members, Pete Hill and Eppa Rixey. The talk will be at the Museum of Culpeper History in downtown Culpeper on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m.
Just five ballplayers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame were born in Virginia. If this seems a little light to you – it did to me, too. Still, that’s five more than North Dakota, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska – combined – so there is that.
California has 24 members, Alabama has 12, New York 31. Maryland, Virginia’s neighbor to the north, has 12. Not that this Hall of Fame thing is a competition. (Except that it is.)
But, back to the five from Virginia.
Two of the five are from Culpeper County.
Virginia’s a big state. Of its 95 counties, Culpeper ranks 25th by population. Not a lot of big leaguers – major league players and well-known Negro League-era players — come from this part the state.
But, 40 percent of Virginia’s greatest baseball players – enshrined members in the National Baseball Hall of Fame – were born in Culpeper County. That’s something.
Plus, these two players – who, best I can tell, never crossed paths in life – tell an important story that goes well beyond the baseball diamond.
One was black, the son of slaves who played before the major leagues were integrated, but was considered by many to be a better player than most of the white big leaguers of his day. The other was white, a banker’s son with a college degree whose major league career spanned decades.
Culpeper and baseball tie these two together.
Culpeper, Virginia has a rich history as you can see here …
And, baseball can often can tell us a larger story of who we are as a country – and how we got here.
I hope you’ll join me. The talk, part of the museum’s monthly “GalleryTalk” lecture series, is free and, yes, there will be snacks.
Seating is limited, so the museum would like an RSVP if you’re planning to attend. Call them at 540-829-1749 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pass your RSVP along.
Here’s the press release from the Museum of Culpeper History:
FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | Contact: Gloria Cooper, Interim Director (540-829-1749)
The Culpeper Boys of Summer: Our Baseball Hall of Famers
Museum’s Second GalleryTalk of 2017 Season Slated for March 19
The Museum hosts its second GalleryTalk for 2017 on Sunday, March 19th from 2-4pm in the Civil War Gallery of the Museum in the historic train depot in downtown Culpeper. Jackie Howell, “The Baseball Bloggess” from Madison, Virginia, will discuss the lives and careers of Culpeper’s two National Baseball Hall of Fame members, Pete Hill and Eppa Rixey.
Just five Virginia-born ballplayers are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame; two were born in Culpeper County.
Pete Hill, born in Culpeper County in 1882, is considered one of the greatest outfielders to play in the Negro Leagues, including the earliest pre-Negro League years. His career spanned the 1890s to the mid-1920s. Considered one of the first superstars of the Negro Leagues he was known for his bat, his strong arm, and his fielding. As one baseball historian noted, Hill “pounded baseballs with a consistency that literally made pitchers scratch their heads in amazement. He was nearly impossible to keep off base.” Hill later became a well-regarded Negro League manager.
Eppa Rixey, born in Culpeper in 1891, was a star left-handed pitcher for the University of Virginia, before going on to a long career with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. He played in the majors from 1912 through 1933 and is one of the few big leaguers to never play a single game in the minors. His 266 career wins was a major league record for lefthanders until Warren Spahn broke the record in 1959. Those 266 wins still puts Rixey at #10 among all lefthanders.
Jackie Howell is a baseball writer and historian who writes The Baseball Bloggess, an award-winning blog on both the history of baseball and the modern-day game.
The Baseball Bloggess – www.thebaseballbloggess.com – has more than 3,600 subscribers world-wide and has been recognized by Freshly Pressed for commentary on the history of vote manipulation in the All-Star Game (which is funnier than it sounds) and on the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in baseball (which isn’t funny at all). Her blog has been called “Fun” by Forbes magazine and in October 2016, The Baseball Bloggess was named a prestigious Discover Blog for writing about “the game and its rich history with a mixture of deep knowledge and humor.”
Her current project as The Baseball Bloggess is to visit the birthplaces of the nearly 200 Virginia-born major league ballplayers and significant Negro League players.
Jackie is a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. During baseball season she can be found at pretty much every University of Virginia home game and patiently waiting for the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series.
The public is invited to attend this talk; refreshments will be served. The event is free; seating is limited so RSVPs are appreciated – please call 540-829-1749 for reservations and information.