Rondell White debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
Rondell White emerged from the legendary Montreal Expos farm system of the 1990s as one of the hottest prospects in the major leagues.
Over 15 big league seasons, White lived up to his billing – and now finds himself on the doorstep of the Hall of Fame.
White is one of 37 players on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. White is making his debut on the ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 9. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 28 in Cooperstown.
White was born Feb. 23, 1972 in Milledgeville, Ga., and graduated from Jones County High School in Gray, Ga., in 1990. He was taken by the Expos with the 24th overall pick in the 1990 MLB Draft, and quickly established himself as one of the best power/speed players in the minor leagues.
For four straight springs starting in 1991, Baseball America rated White among the top 15 overall prospects in the game.
White made his big league debut in September of 1993, then won a regular job in the Expos outfield in 1995. The Expos, who had the best record in all of baseball at 74-40 when the strike ended the 1994 season, shed players and payroll when baseball resumed in 1995 – opening a spot for the talented White.
In 130 games in 1995 as the Expos’ everyday center fielder, White hit .295 with 87 runs scored, 13 homers, 57 RBI and 25 stolen bases. Prior to the 1996 season, the Expos signed White to a six-year deal worth $15 million.
“He’ll probably be spectacular when he reaches his peak,” said then-Expos manager Felipe Alou. “We’re going to see the best of Rondell White while he’s in an Expos uniform.”
Injuries limited White to 88 games in 1996 – he missed almost three months with kidney and spleen issues after running into a wall in pursuit of a fly ball at Coors Field – but he rebounded with a career-high 28 home runs in 1997 to go along with 82 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
After injuries limited White to just 97 games in 1998 (he still hit .300 with 17 homers and 58 RBI), he hit .312 in 1999 with 22 homers and 64 RBI. Then in a trade deadline deal in 2000, the Expos sent White – who was due to become a free agent after the 2001 season – to the Cubs for pitcher Scott Downs.
White remained with the Cubs through the 2001 season, then signed with the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 2002 campaign. He returned to the National League in 2003 when the Yankees dealt him to the Padres in Spring Training, and with San Diego he earned his first All-Star Game berth.
The Padres sent White to the Royals on Aug. 26, 2003 as Kansas City was making a push for the American League Central title. He finished that season with a .289 batting average with 22 homers and a career-high 87 RBI.
White then finished his career with stints with the Tigers and Twins, retiring following the 2007 season.
His final numbers: a .284 batting average with 198 home runs and 768 RBI.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum