Bill White

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Note: This page links to All Star first baseman and former NL President Bill White. For other persons with a similar name, click here.

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William De Kova White

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Biographical Information[edit]

First baseman Bill White was a seven-time Gold Glove winner and a five-time All-Star during a thirteen-season big league career. Following his playing days, he was a longtime broadcaster and President of the National League.

Born in Florida, White's family moved to northern Ohio while he was growing up. He wanted to become a doctor until he was offered a contract by New York Giants scout Tony Ravish following a tryout. He made his pro debut in the Carolina League in 1953 with the Danville Leafs and was the only African-American player on the club. With the Sioux City Soos of the Western League in 1954, he hit .319 while pacing the circuit with 30 home runs. After spending 1955 with the Dallas Eagles of the Texas League, he began the next season with the Minneapolis Millers before being promoted to the majors in May.

On May 7th, 1956, White made his big league debut, starting at first base against the St. Louis Cardinals. He homered off Ben Flowers in his first big league at-bat, and from that day on, he started at first for every remaining game of the season (replacing Gail Harris). Despite playing in just 138 big league games that year, he led NL first basemen in putouts and assists, while also clubbing 22 homers.

White missed the 1957 season while serving in the Army, and when he returned in the middle of the 1958 campaign, the club had moved to San Francisco, and Orlando Cepeda had replaced him as the team's starter at first. Prior to the next season, he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Stan Musial playing first for the Cards, White was moved to left field when he joined them in 1959. He responded by hitting .302 in his first year in St. Louis and making his first All-Star team. In 1960, Musial was moved to left, and White was installed at first base for a six-year run, each season of which he won a Gold Glove Award. He was also an All-Star four more times for the Cardinals and was third in the 1964 NL MVP vote, which was won by teammate Ken Boyer.

On April 12, 1960, in the inaugural game played at Candlestick Park, White, batting third for the Cardinals in the top of the 1st inning, recorded the first base hit in that ballpark. He hit a single to right field off Giants' starter Sam Jones. White and Jones had been traded for each other one year earlier. On July 12-15, 1961 he tied a major league record set by Buck Jordan in 1934 when he collected 14 hits in a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs; the record was broken by Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies in 2019.

Following the 1965 season, White was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. In his first year with the club in 1966, he hit 22 home runs, the seventh time in his career he hit at least twenty, and drove in over 100 runs for the fourth time. Prior to the 1969 season, he was dealt back to the Cardinals, and he finished his playing career with one more season there.

Although White played much of his career in the second dead-ball era, his batting averages stayed high till near the end of his career. He also hit 65 triples in his career.

After his playing days ended, White was a New York Yankees broadcaster from 1971 to 1988, teaming with Phil Rizzuto and Frank Messer as the first integrated major league broadcast crew. In 1989, he was named President of the National League when Bart Giamatti vacated the position to move up to become Commissioner of Baseball, and he became the highest-ranking African-American ever in professional sports. During his five-year tenure, he presided over the expansion of the league in 1993.

White was inducted into the Trumbull (OH) County Sports Hall of Fame on October 16, 2005.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 5-time NL All-Star (1959-1961, 1963 & 1964)
  • 7-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1960-1966)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1956 & 1961-1966)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1962-1964 & 1966)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1963)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1963)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bill Ladson: "A diverse life in baseball: White has done it all",, January 31, 2017. [1]
  • Tracy Ringolsby: "Former NL president White left mark on MLB",, February 3, 2016. [2]
  • Bill White: Uppity: My Untold Story About the Games People Play, Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY, 2011. ISBN 0446555258

Related Sites[edit]