Ed Bacon, 90, Negro Leagues batboy

IF SOMETHING didn't work for Ed Bacon the first time, there was a good chance he was going to try again.

Take last October. In an Acme parking lot at Chester and Cedar streets on the border of Darby and Yeadon, base lines were painted to re-create where the 1925 Negro Leagues World Series champion Darby Hilldales played.

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The occasion was a ceremony to place a historical marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and Bacon wanted to make sure he threw out the first pitch.

But on his first try, the 90-year-old's jittery hand got tangled in his breathing tube, so he pleaded for another opportunity.

He got it.

For most of his life, Bacon had pitched stories of the Hilldales, trying to get people to catch what the team meant to baseball in the Philadelphia area.

Some got it. Some didn't.

On Thursday, three days shy of his 91st birthday, the former Hilldales batboy died.

"He was the kind of person who would talk about [the Hilldales], but no would ever seem to listen," said John Bossong III, who two years ago started to revive the memory of the team from Delaware County. "It was kind of like, 'Yeah, well it happened way back in the '20s, so it's really no big deal.' "

But it was a big deal to Bacon.

As one of the last living links to the Hilldales, Bacon could spend hours telling stories of how the team had been among the elite teams in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s and '30s.

He was a former third baseman for the Negro Leagues' semipro team, the Darby Phantoms, but was a "legend in Darby," according to his cousin Thelma Mobley.

"He remembered everything," she said. "Whatever you wanted to know about baseball, he could tell you just like that."

Bossong, who is a native of Darby but now resides in Downingtown, was one of the people responsible for getting the historical marker placed where the Hilldales had played.

He recalls talking with Bacon and how each session seemed to bring a new set of stories. Bossong seemed quite sure he hadn't heard the same story twice.

"Just sitting with him and listening to the oral history that he had about the team, about the players and coaches, the relationships with the white teams . . . that's not something you're going to read about in the paper or in a book somewhere," Bossong said.

Services: Will be tomorrow at the Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Darby, beginning at 11 a.m. *