Image: The entrance to Oak Hill Memorial Park on Curtner Avenue in San Jose.
Jack Graham was a popular columnist with the San Jose Mercury Herald at the time of his death in 1934. His column filled readers in on the details of local baseball games played, as well as keeping them apprised of upcoming games. This was in an era when baseball was in its heyday. Graham was so highly regarded, that following his death, players wore black armbands and flags at games were flown at half-mast. He even had a new baseball stadium renamed in his honor the year following his death. After the stadium was destroyed by fire some ten years later, a new street on the old stadium site was named after him (Graham Avenue). Jack Graham was posthumously referred to as The Father of Sandlot Baseball of Santa Clara Valley.
I first learned about Jack Graham fifteen years ago. At that time, I went out to Oak Hill Memorial Park to see if I could locate his gravestone. I knew he was a Mason, so I looked through the Masonic section, but didn’t have any luck.
A couple of years ago, two members of the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society (SCCHGS) visited the California Room. Nancy Sutton and Janene Crawford had dropped by to do some research, and we got onto the topic of locating gravestones. Nancy and Janene offered to assist in tracking down Graham’s gravestone. Searching microfilm stored at the Santa Clara City Library, they found the mapped location (row/space) for Jack Graham, and then headed out to Oak Hill cemetery. They weren’t able to find the grave, but felt that it must be a flat marker that had become overgrown by grass.
Image: In time, flat grave markers can sink and/or become overgrown by grass.
Nancy and Janene then passed the site location on to me, with their belief that the marker was probably overgrown. Armed with a weeding tool, I found the approximate location and began poking into the ground in grassy areas between exposed grave markers. One by one, I began locating and exposing flat stones, tearing thick sod away from them as I did. After seventeen markers, I finally found what I was looking for. Sunken and completely overgrown, I unveiled a flat marker reading: JOHN M. GRAHAM 1872 – 1934.
Image: Finally locating Jack Graham's marker under a thick layer of sod.
The following week I went back to the grave site. Prying the marker back up to the surface, I poured fill dirt underneath it to keep it in place. I then pulled away the surrounding turf and gave the marker a good cleaning with water and a nylon brush. I also discovered a buried location marker and restored it to the surface as well. I left pleased that I could make some small contribution to keeping our memory of this man and his contributions alive.
Image: Jack Graham's marker restored.