“Some day the bar will drop and some good man will be chosen from out of the colored profession that will be a credit to all, and pave the way for others to follow.” – Sol White
Sol White was 78 years old in 1947 when Jackie Robinson shattered the major league color barrier. It marked the completion of a journey that White helped start in the 19th century.
A seminal figure in African-American baseball, White was a player on both black and white teams, a manager, a coach, an official, a sportswriter and a historian. He began his playing career at age 19 while a student at Wilberforce University, with the Pittsburgh Keystones, a team in the “League of Colored Baseball Clubs,” which folded after one week. He immediately joined a white team, the Wheeling Green Stockings, and batted .370. The following season his teammates forced his release.
White was a hard-hitting infielder, an intense competitor and a quiet leader.
From 1889-91, he played for black teams which played within otherwise white leagues in New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
In 1902, White organized the Philadelphia Giants, among the best of the pre-Negro Leagues teams. The Giants won the championship every year from 1904-07. The 1906 Giants, who went 108-31, made an offer to play either the NL-pennant winning Chicago Cubs or the World Series winning White Sox, but neither team responded. White was a player or a player-manager on six other championship teams in the pre-Negro Leagues (pre-1920) era.
White retired in 1912 but came back as secretary of the Columbus Buckeyes in the Negro National League in 1920. He left Columbus to manage the Cleveland Browns of the NNL in 1924 and coached for the Newark Stars in 1926.
Perhaps White’s greatest contribution to baseball was as the author of one of the first books on African-American baseball, his “History of Colored Base Ball,” published in 1907. White spent his later years as a sports columnist for the New York Amsterdam News and the Cleveland Advocate.
White passed away on Aug. 25, 1955. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.