Marker now stands at the grave of Negro League standout

by: Tony LaRussa Updated:

LAWRENCEVILLE, Pa. - Ron Hill remembers the Meadows Lanes bowling alley as a popular hangout for him and his friends while growing up in Homewood.

He didn't know at the time that it was operated by Ted Page, a member of the storied Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays teams of the Negro Baseball League.

The cremated remains of Theodore Roosevelt "Terrible Ted" Page, who was murdered in 1984, had rested unclaimed in a community vault at Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville until recently.

Hill and a dozen other people attended a ceremony on Saturday morning at the cemetery, where a marker was unveiled at the grave of the Negro League standout.

"I really never knew Mr. Page, but I felt it was important to participate in this effort to honor him," said Hill, 67, of Penn Hills, whose great-uncle, John Preston "Pete" Hill, played Negro League baseball in the 1920s.

Efforts to honor Negro League players began in 2003, when Dr. Jeremy Krock of Peoria, Ill., learned that Negro League player John "Jimmie" Crutchfield, who was a friend of his grandparents, had been buried in an unmarked grave.

"It's truly an honor to be able to do something to make sure these men are remembered," said Krock, who attended the ceremony. "I feel that if we don't do this, nobody else will."

In 2004, Krock began the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project, which has provided markers for 28 players.

Geri Henderson of East Liberty, and her daughter, Colette Page of Bloomfield, served as representatives of Page's great-niece, Leslie Page, who could not attend the ceremony.

"This is a very emotional day," said Henderson, 75. "It's wonderful that Mr. Page hasn't been forgotten and that people will remember him, not only as a great baseball player but as a great man."

A paperboy found Page bleeding, on the floor of his Hill District home on Dec. 1, 1984. An intruder, who was caught and convicted, beat the 81-year-old Page with a baseball bat.

Sean Gibson - great-grandson of Negro League star Josh Gibson, who also is buried in Allegheny Cemetery - applauded the effort to honor Page and other players who were barred from the major leagues because of their race.

"People have said that these men should have been honored a long time ago," Gibson said. "But I believe things happen for a reason. Being able to dedicate this marker today is a great thing."

The Rev. Emma Smith, pastor of Warren United Methodist Church in the Hill District, conducted a blessing prior to the unveiling of the grave marker, which is in Section 54 of the cemetery.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.