Gary Gillette

Author, editor, historian, and consultant Gary Gillette is a nationally known baseball writer and analyst. He is the foremost expert on the Detroit Stars and the history of the Negro Leagues in Detroit. Gillette led the successful effort to place Hamtramck Stadium, one of the last few extant Negro League home ballparks, on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

As the founder, past president, and current board chair of the nonprofit Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium (FHHS), Gillette has campaigned to restore this historic site since 2010. His in-depth historical research was a critical component of the National Register application and later led to the approval of a State of Michigan Historic Marker for Hamtramck Stadium in 2014. It was also the basis for the City of Hamtramck receiving one of the first African American Civil Rights Grants from the National Park Service in 2017. Along with FHHS, Gillette was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation in 2023.

In 2019, Gillette and FHHS organized and hosted the three-day Detroit Stars Centennial Conference, where Black Baseball scholars gave presentations on the history of the Negro Leagues. He assisted in curating a 2019 exhibit on the Detroit Stars at the Detroit Historical Museum and provided commentary and analysis for the accompanying Negro League documentary film series. Gillette also provided many of the artifacts and images for an exhibit on the Detroit Stars at the Hamtramck Historical Museum. He served on the planning committee for the important Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference when it was held in Detroit for the first time in 2014 and also presented at that conference. Gillette brought the Malloy Conference back to Detroit in 2023, co-hosting, presenting, and serving on a panel analyzing the intersection of the Negro Leagues and Civil Rights. He received the conference’s MVP Award for his efforts.

During his career, Gillette has written, edited, or contributed to dozens of baseball books and websites, including and Baseball Prospectus. He was the creator and editor-in-chief of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia and ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia, the lead author on the massive and definitive 2009 book Big League Ballparks: The Complete Illustrated History of Major-League Baseball Parks, and contributed to six editions of the seminal encyclopedia Total Baseball

Gillette was the founder and president of the Detroit Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and is the current president of its successor, the Southern Michigan Chapter. In 2008, Gillette organized and underwrote a symposium in Detroit entitled Late In the Game: The Tigers and Red Sox Long Road to Integration. A former SABR director, Gillette also served as co-chair of two of SABR’s most prominent research committees, the Business of Baseball Committee and the Ballparks Committee. He is also a longtime member of Sports Panel (electors) of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.

As a director and an officer of the Tiger Stadium Conservancy from 2007–2017, Gillette fought to save the Stadium and its hallowed field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. After the historic stadium’s unnecessary demolition, Gillette worked to ensure appropriate redevelopment, which resulted in a new Detroit Police Athletic League headquarters and the Willie Horton Field of Dreams at the site. 

Recent publications and presentations by Gillette include: 

Gillette is currently editing a new edition of James A. Riley’s landmark Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues so that it can be republished on the Web. He is also writing a new history of the Detroit Stars that will feature much never-before-published research about the history of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues in Michigan.

A resident of Detroit, Gillette is a life member of the NAACP, a Lifetime Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, has been a member of the National Writers Union for more than two decades, and has been a SABR member for three decades. He received the prestigious Tweed Web Lifetime Achievement Award from SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee in 2021.

More about Gary

SABR interview with Gary Gillette (2022)