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Jim Hill: A Pine Bluff Icon

Jim Hill was the backbone of youth baseball in Pine Bluff. He spent six decades involved with Taylor Field. It started as a hobby, something to help the kids as he umpired games, organized tournaments, and maintained the grounds.

This hobby morphed into something much more. Locally, Jim was a powerful influencer and advocate; so much so that his efforts were recognized at the national level.

Take his involvement with Babe Ruth baseball as an example. He spent 55 years working with that organization. He served as a National Babe Ruth League, Inc. board member, and was one of the first three members to be tapped for the Pine Bluff Jr. Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was inducted into the Babe Ruth League, Inc. Southwest Regional Hall of Fame, and later, in 2009, he was elected to the National Babe Ruth League, Inc. Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was awarded the Lefty Gomez Volunteer of the Year Award — the highest honor bestowed on a Babe Ruth League Volunteer.

Jim was a tournament organizer without equal. He was responsible for hosting several Babe Ruth World Series tournaments at Taylor Field. President Bill Clinton showed up at a few to throw the first pitch, and he always took the time to hang out and chat with Jim for several innings before heading out with his entourage.

Umpiring was another passion. Jim spent countless hours officiating games. In 1963, he became a member of Arkansas Officials Association and began his umpiring career. He umpired 15 different Babe Ruth World Series. After the Bambino Division, which is now the Cal Ripken Division of Babe Ruth League, Inc., was established, Jim was umpire-in-chief for its first nine years. He was on Southwest Regional Tournaments’ first umpire staff, which began in 1972. For six years, he was a national umpire consultant for the Babe Ruth League, Inc. and for 10 years, he served on the National Advisors Board. He was also a Southwest Assistant Regional Commissioner for 12 years. He officiated an astounding 23 state high school tournaments and was named to the AAA Hall of Fame in 2003.

Jim took personal pride in the success of baseball and the youth programs in Pine Bluff. He was also known for his ability to get local business leaders to make financial contributions to his tournaments and programs. Even into the final months of his life, he spent the majority of his time at Taylor Field, moving and watering the grass, cutting the infield, maintaining a perfect mound, and never letting the foul lines fall to anything less than flawless.

Jim died in 2019 at age 87, but his legacy lives on at Taylor Field. There’s a hospitality building on the grounds bearing his name. He will be remembered forever as a loving and tireless advocate for baseball in Pine Bluff.

Source: Pine Bluff Commercial

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