Catching On

19th Century star Deacon White a Pre-Integration Committee finalist at Hall of Fame

November 30, 2012
2013 Pre-Integration Committee candidate Deacon White. (NBHOF Library)

Deacon White stopped playing big league before the dawn of the 20th Century. But his  accomplishments still shine brightly enough to merit consideration at the Hall of Fame.

White, a catcher and third baseman who played from 1871-1890, is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Pre-Integration Committee ballot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Pre-Integration Committee will vote on Dec. 2 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and the results of the vote will be announced Dec. 3.

The 10 candidates on the Pre-Integration Committee ballot are: Sam Breadon, Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Hank O’Day, Alfred Reach, Jacob Ruppert, Bucky Walters and White. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013.

Born Dec. 7, 1847, White played for Forest City of Cleveland (1868-1872), the Red Stockings of Boston (1873-1875, 1877), Chicago White Stockings (1876), Cincinnati Red Stockings (1878-1880), Buffalo Bisons (1881-1885, 1890), Detroit Wolverines (1886-1888) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1889).

At one time in White’s professional career, he played all nine positions on the field, including two appearances pitching. He primarily played third base and catcher and is considered one of the best barehanded catchers of his time.

White was a standout catcher in a catcher-important era. Catchers did not use any equipment and were positioned much farther back from the pitcher than in modern baseball. Just catching the ball was considered an advantage, but White could catch and throw runners out.

White was 42 during his last season and had been the oldest player in the league for his last four seasons. He was also the first ever player to win a most valuable player award and earned the honor in 1875 when his Red Stockings went 71-8.

At the end of his career, White had a career batting average of .312, 2,067 hits and 988 RBIs.

White passed away on July 9, 1939.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum