Philadelphia has a rich baseball tradition and has been home to a professional team since 1865. It should come as no surprise then, that the city and its suburbs are the final resting place for some of the most important figures in baseball history.
I’ve previously written about the three Baseball Hall of Famers buried in northern Philadelphia, and today, I want to showcase those that live in the southern portion of the city, as well as in Philly’s southern suburbs.
This group of baseball figures includes one of the most well-known players in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies, the man considered the creator of professional baseball, and even a well-respected announcer.
Read their stories and find out how you can visit their graves to pay your respects.
Richie Ashburn is one of the most well-known players in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. Born in Nebraska in 1927, Ashburn spent 12 of his 15 Major League seasons in Philadelphia, finishing his career with stints in Chicago and New York.
During his career, Ashburn was elected to six all-star teams, won the National League batting title twice, and the National League stolen base title once. After his playing career in 1962, Ashburn became an announcer for the Phillies on TV and radio from 1963 until his death in 1997. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 by the Veterans Committee.
Ashburn is buried in Gladwyne Methodist Church Cemetery, a small cemetery located adjacent to the church.
Ashburn’s grave doesn’t significantly stand out from others in the cemetery, though there were baseballs sitting atop the tombstone when I visited. His grave is located in the cemetery’s northwestern corner near the rear of the church. He is buried in the same plot with his daughter, Jan, who died in 1987. Richie Ashburn’s grave can be found at the following coordinates: 40.035974, -75.279385.
Harry Wright is not a name that is well-known today. However, his contributions to baseball can’t be understated and he was known during his time as the “Father of Professional Baseball.” Wright was born in England in 1835 to a professional cricket player. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three.
Wright played both baseball and cricket growing up in New York. In 1857, Wright joined the New York Knickerbockers, one of the first organized baseball clubs. He later moved to Gotham of New York before joining a team in Cincinnati in 1866.
In Cincinnati, Wright put together what many consider to be the first fully-professional baseball team in 1869. One of the players was his brother, George, who is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. (The Wrights are one of only two pairs of brothers in the Baseball Hall of Fame.)
Wright would serve as a manager until 1893 in Cincinnati, Boston, Providence, and finally for the Philadelphia Quakers from 1884-1893. During his tenure as a manager, Wright is credited with creating the concepts of backing up plays and defensive shifts.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 by the Veterans Committee.
Wright died in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1895 and is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery. His gravestone is quite grand with a larger-than-life statue of Wright standing atop the stone. His grave can be found at the following coordinates: 40.016501, -75.220379.
Harry Kalas might not be an official member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, however, he won the Ford C. Frick Award in 2002. This award is given by the Hall of Fame to honor a sportscaster and is the closest equivalent to induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for sportscasters. Given his award and importance to the Philadelphia Phillies, I thought I would include him in this article.
Kalas was born in Illinois in 1936 and began calling minor league baseball games in Hawaii in 1961. He called games for the Houston Astros from 1965 until 1970. In 1971, he was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies and called games for the Phillies until his death in April 2009. He was the longtime broadcasting partner of Richie Ashburn.
Kalas is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. His gravestone is one of the most memorable I’ve ever come across. A microphone has been carved into marble above his grave and is flanked by two sets of seats from Veterans Stadium. At the base of the microphone, Kalas’ signature has been carved into the stone. His grave can be found at the following coordinates: 40.003730, -75.189798.
George Davis was born in New York in 1870 and played in the Major Leagues from 1890-1909. During his career, he played in Cleveland, New York, and Chicago. He also served as the player-manager for the New York Giants (then a baseball team) in 1895 and again from 1900-1901.
Davis played his career during the Dead-Ball Era, meaning that his offensive statistics don’t stand up well to modern numbers. However, he was one of the offensive leaders at the turn of the 20th century.
Davis was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Veterans Committee. His election was significantly helped by baseball statistician Bill James calling Davis the best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1997, baseball researcher Frederick Ivor-Campbell said Davis was “the most neglected player of the 19th century. He’s definitely the best eligible player not in the Hall, and he’s a lot better than a lot of guys already in.”
George Davis died in a Philadelphia mental institution in 1940. He is buried in Fernwood Cemetery in Upper Darby. His tombstone was replaced by the Society for American Baseball Research and features an etching of Davis along with information about his career. His grave can be found at the following coordinates: 39.944650, -75.252842.
Herb Pennock was born in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, in 1894. He was a star pitcher for some of the greatest New York Yankee teams in history. Pennock played baseball from 1912-1934 for the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees. He won six World Series titles (two in Philadelphia and four in New York).
Regarded as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history, Pennock was teammates with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. After his career, Pennock served in the front office of the Philadelphia Phillies. His legacy is forever tarnished by his opposition to integration in baseball, and a statue that was to be built in Kennett Square was stopped over this issue.
Pennock died in 1948 and is buried in Kennett Square’s Union Hill Cemetery. His simple marker can be found at the following coordinates: 39.852605, -75.714915.
For information about other Baseball Hall of Famers buried in Pennsylvania, check out our article about the Hall of Famers buried in northern Philadelphia and our article about the Hall of Famers buried in Pittsburgh.
[Click here for information on how to use coordinates to find your destination.]
See map below for other area attractions.
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