Thorn: Sol White’s family, lost and found

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on May 25, 2014:

I concluded an earlier column in this space, about the dedication of Sol White’s grave marker, with: “While no family came to Sol’s aid in his last years, his burial record listed his marital state as “separated” … so further research may yet reveal whether he was survived at death by his wife or any children.”

Talking about this state of affairs on that day with baseball historian Jim Overmyer, I was hoping that he would pick up the baton, and he has done so, splendidly, in the article below. This was preceded by his haring some of his genealogical finds with me via email.

Jim is the author of two books and a contributor to several others on Negro League baseball.  He was a member of the special committee which elected Sol White and 16 other black baseball players and executives to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.  He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and its Negro League and Nineteenth Century committees.

Sol White, the nineteenth century black player who became a manager and front office executive in the Negro Leagues, received a long overdue honor on May 10 when a headstone on his previously unmarked grave was dedicated in an African-American cemetery in New York City. White, the last deceased member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to have a gravestone, was remembered for his exploits on the playing field and the dugout, but also for his writing. He was black baseball’s first historian.  Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball, published in 1907, is the starting point for black baseball scholars following his path.

Later a baseball columnist for African-American newspapers, White’s body of work tells much about the black part of professional baseball. Despite all his writing, he left precious little behind when he died in 1955 about his 86-year personal life. The praise he received on May 10 was almost completely about his baseball career. He somehow managed to avoid being enumerated in the U.S. Census between 1900 and 1930, although he may have been counted in 1920, and family information was mostly limited to the scraps in his obituary and what has been discovered about his early years in his hometown of Bellaire, Ohio.

But hardly anyone remains anonymous in the Internet age, even if he has been dead for almost 59 years.

Read the full article here:

Related link: Baseball world remembers pioneer Sol White

Originally published: May 27, 2014. Last Updated: May 27, 2014.