MLB: Deacon White Is the Lone Hall of Fame Player in the Class of 2013

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJanuary 10, 2013


The New York Times sports section front page was blank on Thursday, the day after the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to elect a single new member to the Hall of Fame (via ESPN).

Lynn Zinser of the New York Times wrote that the lack of a new living member has angered not only the Hall of Fame but also local businesses who count on the larger crowds for induction day.

But there is indeed a new player whose plaque will be placed alongside the immortals of the game. Deacon White, chosen by the Veterans Committee, will be honored this summer.

Excitement for White's election might be tempered at best. He last pitched in 1890 when Benjamin Harrison was President. He played for two leagues, the National Association and the Players League, that no longer exist. 

Some of his best seasons were for the Boston Red Stockings and the Detroit Wolverines, teams long forgotten by their fan bases. 

But on a day where no other player is in the spotlight and only an owner (Jacob Ruppert) and an umpire (Hank O'Day) are being honored, White will finally get his due 74 years after his death.

The former catcher once was a battery mate with his brother Will on the 1879 Cincinnati Reds. But White's brightest years came in Boston, playing with both Red Stockings teams. (One in the National Association and the other in the National League, who were later renamed the Braves.)

His .367 average in 1875 led the National Association. In 1877 he led the National League with 103 hits, 11 triples, 49 RBIs, 145 total bases and a .387 average (via Baseball Reference). Nobody knew it at the time, but Deacon White's .950 OPS and 192 OPS+ also led the league.

In 1887, he helped the Detroit Wolverines defeat the St. Louis Browns in the earlier incarnation of the World Series.

White finished his career with 2,067 hits while playing seasons that usually were fewer than 100 games. And he was a catcher who played in the era before face masks and often caught barehanded.

Fans of the Braves and Reds should salute him. Boston and Detroit fans should feel honored that another player who starred for one of their teams had been inducted to the Hall of Fame.

It may not be as exciting as seeing Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds taking their place alongside Willie Mays and all of the living legends, but it could be a day to salute baseball's glorious past. And perhaps a reminder to the Hall of Famers in waiting to be patient.

Time eventually was kind to Deacon White.