June 22, 2021

Deacon White Named Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend

August 8, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

For Immediate Release

Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)

Nineteenth Century Committee

Deacon White named Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend

ATLANTA, GA, August 5, 2010 — 19th Century pioneer player, James “Deacon” White has been selected the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2010 by the Nineteenth Century Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The announcement was made today, at the Nineteenth Century Committee’s annual business meeting being held at SABR’s 40th Annual Convention.

White, nicknamed “Deacon” for his virtuous life and his leadership on the field, was one of baseball’s first superstars. He began his playing career with the Forest City Baseball Club of Cleveland in 1868 and was still with the team when the first National Association game was played in 1871. In the first inning of that first game, he doubled off Bobby Mathews for the first “major league” hit.

Considered to be the first catcher to move up under the batter, White was the premier catcher of the 1870s. Playing without a glove, he caught more games (409) than anyone else during the decade while being one of the game’s most feared hitters. White won two batting titles (.367 in 1875 and .387 in 1877) and three RBI crowns (1873, 1876 and 1877). In 1873, White became a member of the Boston Red Stockings that went on to win the championship in 1873, 1874 and 1875. The famed “Big Four” of Ross Barnes, Cal McVey, Al Spalding and White moved onto the Chicago White Stockings in 1876 to win the first NL pennant.

In 1877, he returned to Boston as a first baseman and won another pennant. From 1878 to 1880, he played for Cincinnati, forming a battery with his brother Will, before joining Buffalo for five seasons. By 1882 he was a regular third baseman and a member of the second famous “Big Four” with Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson and Jack Rowe. In 1886, the Buffalo franchise was purchased by the owner of the Wolverines, bringing the “Big Four” to Detroit. In 1887, the Wolverines, with White hitting .303 at the age of 39, won the NL pennant and defeated St. Louis of the American Association to become world champs.

White finished his career with Detroit in 1888, Pittsburgh in 1889 and Buffalo of the Players’ League in 1890. White’s career totals over twenty seasons include 1,140 runs, 2,067 hits, 988 RBI, a .312 batting average and just 221 strikeouts. His 162 game average includes 215 hits, 118 runs and 103 RBI.

From June 15th through June 30th of this year, 171 members of the Nineteenth Century Committee casted their votes for the 2010 Overlooked 19th Century Base Ball Legend — a 19th century player, manager, executive or other baseball personality not yet inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Last year, Pete Browning was the Overlooked Legend.

Here are the 2010 candidates and their point totals:

  1. Deacon White (418)
  2. Bill Dahlen (339)
  3. Harry Stovey (303)
  4. Ross Barnes (285)
  5. Tony Mullane (278)
  6. Bob Caruthers (200)
  7. Jack Glasscock (194)
  8. Doc Adams (188)
  9. George Van Haltren (145)
  10. Bobby Mathews (119)

Visit the following websites for more information on the career and life of Deacon White:

Deacon White Player Page, Baseball-reference.com, http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/whitede01.shtml

Joseph Overfield, “James “Deacon” White,” SABR Research Journal Archive, http://research.sabr.org/journals/james-deacon-whit3

For further information on the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends Project contact Joe Williams, Project Chairman at jwilliams22@snet.net.

The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) was established in Cooperstown, NY in 1971 by 16 baseball historians and researchers. Today this non-profit organization has over 6,700 members and 56 regional chapters.



2 Responses to “Deacon White Named Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend”
  1. John Murphy says:

    The Deacon was a great choice for this honor. In fact, he was a better choice than last year’s honoree Pete Browning (who was worthy of it), IMO.

    Now if we could get Ezra Sutton (the greatest 19th century third baseman) and Dickey Pearce (the greatest shortstop of the 1860s) on next year’s ballot! Both of them definitely deserve to be on it over the non-great Bobby Mathews.

  2. Mitchell Lehrer says:

    Great website! what about Joe Start? 27 years in organized baseball (1860-1886) and productive well into his 40’s

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