Orignally published to Action News 4 on September 7th, 2022
NORTH BRADDOCK, Pa. —
More than 39,000 people have been buried at the Monongahela Cemetery in North Braddock. Now, there's a push to save the history of one man in particular.
"He is buried, like I said, in this area," said Vince Ciaramella, pointing to a small area in the cemetery without headstones.
Somewhere there, Ernest "Pud" Gooden has lied beneath the ground for decades.
The former baseball player for the Homestead Grays and other Negro League teams in the 1920s died at 34 years old.
Ciaramella is part of a group working to get headstones for Gooden and other Negro League players who are buried in the Pittsburgh area. So far, he said, they are in the process of finding the final resting spots of between 20 and 30 players.
It's a collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Gravestone Project and the Josh Gibson Foundation. The project started in 2004, and has placed headstones at the unmarked graves of nearly 50 players. The Gibson Foundation, named for the famed ballplayer, aims to remember his legacy and improve the lives of the community.
Ciaramella, who's written a guidebook to Negro and Winter League players in Allegheny County, started his endeavors during the pandemic with his wife Erika and son Enzo. He teaches history at the Insight Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.
"We hope that by finding Gooden and others, we can bring their story to the larger public and get their contributions to baseball recognized," Ciaramella said.
Gooden's headstone would be the fourth of it's kind in Pittsburgh. In 2009, the project placed three stones for players buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Sharpsburg.
"These guys were marginalized in life and forgotten in death," Ciaramella said.
Ciaramella estimates each headstone will cost between $2,000 and $2,500. The Josh Gibson Foundation is accepting donations for the project on its website.
They're hoping to get the descendants of the players involved in the process as well.
"And that way they feel a part of the process," he said. "And, hopefully, it just brings some pride to their family and pride to Pittsburgh."
To learn more about Insight Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School visit: https://insightpa.k12.com/