Held at: African American Museum in Philadelphia [Contact Us]701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Until Jackie Robinson broke the color line in professional baseball in the 1950s, African American baseball players played in what were known as the "Negro Leagues." The Hilldale Club of Darby, Pennsylvania was one of the all-Black clubs that belonged to one of those leagues. During the club's existence from about 1910 to 1932, it played in the Negro World Series twice, in 1924 and 1925, winning against the Kansas City Monarchs 5 games to 1 in 1925. Hilldale was one of the only Black ball clubs that owned its own ballpark and was also noted for some of the finest ballplayers of the day.
The only individual involved in both the formation and disbanding of Hilldale was Lloyd Thompson, a member of the Board of Directors of the Hilldale Baseball Club from 1922 to 1930. He was also the founding secretary of the short-lived East-West League in 1932. As secretary, Thompson kept statistics and scores of ball games. Thompson was also a pioneer Black sports writer, reporting on the Negro Leagues for local newspapers.
William W. (Bill 'Ready') Cash was born in Georgia in 1919 and came to Philadelphia in 1924. He started as a catcher for the Camden Grants and later played for the Philadelphia Daisies in 1942, and the Philadelphia Stars from 1943 to 1949. From 1952 to 1953, Cash played for the farm teams of the Chicago White Sox. He retired in the late 1950s, considered by many to be an outstanding catcher throughout his 17 year career. After retiring, Cash worked for the Westinghouse Electric Company in Lester, Pennsylvania. He was honored at the Negro League Museum in 1981. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Negro League Baseball Players Association and founded the Parkway Little League, working with youngsters in the Philadelphia area.
Edward Bolden was a U.S. Postal employee who was an important figure in baseball history. He was the founding president of the Eastern Colored League in 1923, and in 1924, along with Andrew 'Rube' Foster, he helped organize the Negro World Series, a post-season championship between teams from the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League. From about 1915 to 1933, Bolden managed the Hilldale Ball Club. He later founded the Philadelphia Stars which won the 1934 Negro National League Championship.
Most of the materials in the collection are from Lloyd Thompson and pertain to the Hilldale Club; a smaller amount are from William Cash. The collection is arranged into seven series: Correspondence, Season Bookings and Scorebooks, Player Statistics, Financial Records, Delaware County Athletic Association and Jersey City Colored Athletes, Clippings, and Photographs. There are also some objects related to this collection, including a catcher's mitt and facemask and several autographed baseballs. A more detailed inventory is available on-site.
The Correspondence concerns five individuals: William Cash, Lloyd Thompson, Bob Thompson, (son of Lloyd Thompson), John Drew, and Edward Bolden. Bolden's correspondence is mainly about routine business matters. Bob Thompson, son of Lloyd Thompson, is represented by one letter addressed to Darby (PA) High School Alumni. There are letters from Ted Radcliffe and James Loche to John Drew, owner of the Hilldale Club, regarding contracts with the ball clubs. Cash is represented by one letter from Dr. Lawrence D. Hogan concerning a loan of his baseball collection. (In the 1980's, Cash was president of the Cobbs Creek Little League and kept the business meeting minutes of that organization as well as literature on Little League baseball.) Lloyd Thompson's correspondence is both incoming and outgoing. It concerns business affairs of Black baseball, especially the East-West League of 1932. A number of letters to Thompson are from people applying for jobs with the East-West League. Two letters from 1924 and 1925 from Thompson to his wife reveal something about "life on the road" with a baseball team. As a result of Thompson's place in baseball business, he knew many players and kept records of baseball scores and trivia, which was useful to him as a sports writer. The essays and notes about baseball are both handwritten and typed, though it is uncertain for what publication Thompson was writing. Unfortunately, these materials are not dated.
The Season Bookings and Scorebooks for Hilldale date from 1918 (eight years after the team's founding in 1910) to 1932, when the team folded.
For the 1925 season there are Statistics for Hilldale and non-Hilldale baseball players.
The Hilldale Financial Records consist primarily of expenditures and receipts from 1914-1932, box office accounting records from 1926 through 1932 seasons, and a financial report for the ill-fated East-West League and for the 1924 Negro World Series. There are also business transaction forms from the 1930s about the ball park owned by the Hilldale team, minutes for the Hilldale Club stockholders, and a copy of the constitution and bylaws of the Philadelphia Baseball Association (of which Hilldale was a member).
The Delaware County Athletic Association and Jersey City Colored Athletics series consists of ample documentation for the Delaware County Athletic Association from 1916-1918 and one business card (undated) for James Thomas, booking manager of the Jersey City Colored Athletics.
The Clippings focus on the key persons in this collection: Bill Cash, Lloyd Thompson and Edward Bolden. James 'Cool Papa' Bell, 'Cyclone Joe' Williams, Bill Yancey and Biz Mackey are the other baseball personalities represented here. There are four carbon typescripts, written by Lloyd Thompson, and presumably intended for newspaper columns.
The Photographs series includes both team and individual player photos. There are team pictures of the Hilldale Club for some, but not all, seasons between the years 1912 and 1924. Some individual player photographs are identified by player name but many are not. Photographs range in size from postcard size to a 24-inch panoramic shot of the ballpark where the Negro World Series was played.
Gifts of Lloyd Thompson, 1985 (85.041) and William Cash, 1987 and 1989 (85.054 and 89.010).
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact African American Museum in Philadelphia directly for more information.
- African American Museum in Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by the African American Museum in Philadelphia
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact African American Museum in Philadelphia for information about accessing this collection.