Reverend Harold Tinker

"I played it because I loved it."

The Rev. Harold Tinker was born in Birmingham in 1905, but migrated up to Pittsburgh with his family in 1917. Growing up on the Hill, he was surrounded by baseball; he grew up playing sandlot and community ball. Rev. Tinker tells a story of growing up: "If my mother wanted to find me, she didn't have to worry. She'd say, 'Go down to the ball field and tell Harry to come home.' I lived on that ball field." After so many years of devoted playing, Rev. Tinker was recruited to join his first club team at age 15. This would begin a long and successful connection to local baseball for Rev. Tinker.
Rev. Tinker played on neighborhood teams like the Edgar Thompson club for years until he was picked up by the Crawfords in 1928. His center field skills proved enormously helpful and he was soon acting as assistant manager of the team. Tinker was on the team when it was sold toGus Greenlee, and soon fell victim to Greenlee's order to "work or play;" i.e., players had to decide to stay with their day jobs and quit the team, or quit their jobs and focus on baseball. Because of his family responsibilities, Tinker had to quit the team before it reached its heyday in the mid-1930s.

Reverend Tinker still stayed involved in baseball, though. He followed the Crawfords, and later agreed to coach a sandlot team for a housing project nearby. After he left baseball to pursue his calling as a reverend, Tinker was still recognized as one of the most prominent figures in baseball on the Hill.

Rev. Tinker in his home

John, Becky and Martha with Rev. Tinker

Rev. Tinker can boast of one more contribution to baseball legend: he was instrumental in the discovery of Josh Gibson. Rev. Tinker heavily recruited Gibson to join the Crawfords while Gibson was still a teenager.