The history of baseball in Philadelphia dates back further than nearly any city in the country. A form of baseball has been played in Philly since the 1700s, and by 1860, what some consider to be the first real baseball team, the Athletic Club, began in the city. Just a few years later, in 1865, the Al Reach signed with the Athletics as one of the first paid baseball players in the country.
Over the next 150 years, Philadelphia would become one of the biggest baseball cities in the country, first with the Philadelphia Athletics and then the Phillies. There were also several Negro League teams that flourished in and around the city including the Philadelphia Stars, Hilldale Club, and the Philadelphia Giants.
With all of this baseball history, it should come as no surprise that seven Baseball Hall of Famers are buried in the city and its suburbs. Of those, three are buried in and just outside of northern Philadelphia. All three have connections to Philadelphia teams and were some of the best baseball players to ever suit up in the City of Brotherly love. Here are their stories.
Of all the names associated with the history of baseball in Philadelphia, none may be more consequential than Connie Mack. Born Cornelius McGillicuddy, Mack was a player for 11 seasons in Washington, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, but is better know as a manager.
Mack began his managerial career as a player/manager from 1894-1896 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He then moved on to became the full-time manager and part-time player for the then minor league Milwaukee Brewers from 1897-1900. In 1901, he became part-owner and manager of the brand-new Philadelphia Athletics in the American League.
Ultimately, Mack would manage the Athletics for 50 seasons, before retiring in 1950. In addition to being the longest serving manager in Major League history, Mack is still the Major League career leader in both wins and losses. During his 50 seasons in Philly, Mack won nine pennants and five World Series.
Connie Mack was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, 13 years before he would finally leave the dugout. He joined manager John McGraw of the Yankees as the first managers inducted into the Hall of Fame in the second year of the hall’s existence.
Mack died in Philadelphia on February 8, 1954 at the age of 93. He was buried in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Cheltenham Township, just a few hundred yards outside of the Philadelphia city limits.
Mack’s grave features a large, but simple, horizontal stone roughly six feet in length. The only markings on the grave are a large cross on top and the word McGillicuddy written along the side. Those wishing to pay their respects can find his grave at the following coordinates: 40.085839, -75.175984.
Louis Santop was a catcher in the Negro Leagues and one of the first African-American superstars. He was known as a powerful home run hitter and was the first to be called the “Black Babe Ruth.” Santop played in the Negro Leagues from 1910-1926. His first stop in Philadelphia was with the Giants in 1911, before returning to the city to play from 1918-1926 with the Hilldale Club, which was based in nearby Darby.
Santop’s career lacked significant record keeping, with only 101 games during his 15 years career listed on online stat websites. However, Santop was credited with hitting a 500-foot home run in 1912 and once got three hits in an exhibition game against Babe Ruth in 1920.
Santop was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Santop’s career was put on hold from 1918-1919 when he served in the Navy. After he died on January 22, 1942, he was buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery.
In Philadelphia National Cemetery, all gravestones look the same, making finding Santop’s grave a bit of a challenge. Also, for a reason that I can’t find an answer for, Louis Santop’s grave is marked “Lewis Santop Loftin.” Santop’s grave is located at roughly the following coordinates: 40.058086, -75.156305. It is located to the left of an empty plot in the second row from the road.
Chief Bender was a star pitcher who played in the Major Leagues from 1903 to 1917, with a brief appearance in 1925. He played in Philadelphia for his entire career, with the exception of the 1915 and 1925 seasons.
Born Charles Albert Bender, he was a half Chippewa Indian and received the Native American name Mandowescence. Bender attended the controversial Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the same school that produced Jim Thorpe.
Bender debuted in the Major Leagues when he was 19, and according to his longtime manager, Connie Mack, “If everything depended on one game, I just used Albert – the greatest money pitcher of all time.”
During his career, Bender won more than 200 games, pitched a no hitter, and won three World Series.
After the main portion of his career ended in 1917, Bender went on to become a manager in the minor leagues, at the Naval Academy, and for the White Sox. He spent the last years of his life as a coach and scout for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bender died on May 22, 1954. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn, just north of Philadelphia. His grave can be found at roughly the following coordinates: 40.114947, -75.153444. It should be noted that at the time of my visit, the nearest gates to Bender’s grave were not open to cars. However, a gate for pedestrians was open.
For more information about the other Hall of Famers buried in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, visit this site. For more information about the six Hall of Famers buried in Pittsburgh, check out our article here.
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See map below for other area attractions.
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