"But more important than mere longevity was the fact that he had lived through and been a part of more baseball history than almost any other man."
December 3, 2012 2:03 PM Subscribe
The results of the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee Election
were released today, and the three men elected were Jacob Ruppert
, who owned the Yankees for 24 years and helped steer the team from mediocrity in the 1910s to some of the greatest teams in baseball history; Hank O'Day
, one of the longest-serving umpires in league history and the man who made the official ruling on Merkle's Boner
, and Deacon White
, the first great catcher and one of the main players in the first baseball dynasty, the Boston Red Stockings of the 1870s National Association.
Some highlights from White's 23 year career
- He played against the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first all-professional baseball team.
- He was the first man to make a base hit in major league play as a member of the Cleveland Forest Cities of the National Association in 1871.
- In the midst of a third consecutive pennant run with the Boston Red Stockings (with records of 43-16, 52-18, and a ludicrous 71-8 as the league was falling apart), White and three other Red Stocking stars, Ross Barnes, Cal McVey, and Al Spalding (collectively known as the Big Four), negotiated a contract to join the Chicago White Stockings at the end of the season. Their move to Chicago destroyed the National Association and ushered in the National League and the beginnings of the Cubs and Braves franchises that exist today (both of which White played for).
- He caught the most games of anyone in the 1870s, an era when all fielding was done bare-handed. White also didn't use a mask or chest protector at any point in his career.
- Although he and the other Big Four all left the White Stockings within a couple of years, White eventually ended up in a second Big Four with Hardy Richardson, Dan Brouthers, and Jack Rowe on the Buffalo Bisons. Like the first Big Four, they also moved en masse to another team, forming the core of the pennant-winning Detroit Wolverines of 1887.
- Following their pennant win, the Wolverines went on to play in a wild 15 game, 10 city World Series, in which they beat the St. Louis Browns 10 games to 5.
- White was a longtime member of the first baseball players' union, the National Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, and worked in concert with the Brotherhood's mastermind and all-around dynamo, John Montgomery Ward, to initiate the Brotherhood War in which the union formed an entirely new league for the benefit of the players. White and Jack Rowe co-owned the new Buffalo Bisons of the short-lived Players League, but the league fell apart after just one season thanks to skittishness from the new owners, leading to the National League remaining the only major league until the rise of the American League in the early 1900s.
- As owner of the Bisons, White briefly and unsuccessfully fought against segregation by attempting to include Frank Grant, one of the earliest black baseball stars, on his team, but under tremendous pressure the team relented and Grant joined the Cuban Giants instead.
- Legendary owner Connie Mack got his start running a team under White as a minority owner of the Bisons, although his life savings of $500 was wiped out when the Players' League fell apart and it would be another decade before he would become part-owner of the Philadelphia A's.
- At the time of his death in 1939, he was reportedly the oldest living former major league player at age 91.