Deacon White monument to be dedicated in Caton, New York

Deacon White (SPALDING COLLECTION, NYPL)A monument honoring Baseball Hall of Famer James “Deacon” White and his ballplaying family will be dedicated at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, October 10, 2020, at Margaret E. Smyers Memorial Park in Caton, New York.

The monument, organized by SABR members Joe Williams and David Stalker, honors Caton native Deacon White — who was honored as SABR’s Overlooked 19th Century Legend in 2010 and inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013 — and his brothers LeRoy White and Will White, and their cousin Elmer White.

Deacon White’s pioneering baseball career spanned the end of the amateur era and the start of professionalism, the establishment and demise of the National Association, the founding of the National League, and a players’ revolt that led to the creation of the Players’ League in 1890.

On May 4, 1871, Deacon White stroked a double for the first hit in a professional league game in the National Association’s first season with Elmer as a teammate. He was the best catcher in baseball when the most important players in the game were catchers. Playing without a glove, he caught more games (409) than anyone else during the decade while being one of the game’s most feared hitters. As a batter, White won two batting titles (.367 in 1875 and .387 in 1877) and three RBI crowns (1873, 1876 and 1877).

In 1873, White became a member of the Boston Red Stockings that went on to win the National Association championship in 1873, 1874 and 1875. Boston’s famed “Big Four” of Ross Barnes, Cal McVey, Al Spalding, and White moved onto the Chicago White Stockings in 1876 and won the first National League pennant.

David Stalker’s Baseball Memorial Series is a series of monuments that honors and recognizes baseball players, teams, and leagues. It began in 2005 with a memorial for player Fred Merkle in Watertown, Wisconsin. It has continued to become a national series where players are forever remembered in their hometowns, or other appropriate places where their life or career took them. 

Originally published: October 8, 2020. Last Updated: October 9, 2020.