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The first black major leaguer was White?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Songbird, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Fathered by a Georgia slaveholder, William Edward White played a single game for Providence.

    Does that make him the first?

    Good read. The part about how White identified -- the struggle, if he struggled -- makes you wonder if the Caleb Hannan of the day would have outed him.

  2. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    This story's been out there a while.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    The identity of William Edward White as the half-black son of a slave and a one-gamer for the Providence Grays has been out there since 2004, yes.

    The fact that William Edward White self-identified as Caucasian has only been known since last fall. The discovery of his long-elusive death certificate is an important piece of the puzzle, but obviously, there's still plenty of mystery about this guy.

    A fascinating story, indeed.
  5. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    It also needs to be pointed out that in 1878:

    1) The National League was only in its third year of operation;

    2) There had only been 'major league baseball' in any sort of formally defined terms for about seven years;

    3) It was not uncommon at all for professional teams of the time, to recruit friends or acquaintances of players or even just leading sandlot players in the neighborhood, to fill a vacancy if a player went down with an injury. Most teams didn't even carry 'subsitutes' on the roster; if somebody went down, they had to go visit Joe Dokes at the blacksmith shop and see if he wanted to play.

    So the reality of playing high-level professional baseball was nothing like the exalted enterprise it is today, in which the participant is endowed some kind of mystical semi-superhuman status of having set foot on the field in a Major League Baseball (TM) game. It was much more like your next door neighbor getting a call from the guy across the street to see if he wanted to play on his slow-pitch softball team.
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