Wulf: Getting to know Hall of Famer Deacon White

From Steve Wulf at ESPN.com on January 16, 2013, with mention of SABR members Joe Williams and Chris Jaffe:

Better hands than Mike Piazza — even without a glove.
Played four more positions than Craig Biggio.
Never any hint that he used ox-brain elixir.
His mustache puts Jack Morris’ to shame.
The original leadoff hitter.

Just trying to help here. I’m throwing out some possible slogans to drum up interest in James Laurie “Deacon” White, the only player who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July. On the theory that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, baseball fans and Cooperstown merchants need to get behind the Deacon, who was chosen along with an owner and an umpire by a special Veterans Committee a month before the BBWAA voters revealed that they had deemed nobody worthy of a plaque.

I’m also attempting to forget that idiot who made a mockery of the whole process by wasting a HOF vote on Aaron Sele.

So let’s start manufacturing those Deacon White commemorative shirts. The easy part is that they won’t require names or numbers on the back — they didn’t have them back then. The hard part is trying to decide whether to use the logo of the Cleveland Forest Citys, the Boston Red Stockings, the Chicago White Stockings, the Cincinnati Reds, the Buffalo Bisons, the Detroit Wolverines or the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on the front.

White was born in Caton, N.Y., about 150 miles west of Cooperstown. For some reason, though, it took him 74 years to get there; when he died in July 1939 as baseball’s oldest living player (91), he was disappointed that he hadn’t been among the first inductees into the newly established Hall of Fame.

According to an article by Joe Williams in SABR’s Baseball Research Journal, Deacon learned the game of baseball from a Union soldier returning home from the Civil War in 1865. White joined the Forest City club in 1868 while employed by McNary, Claflin & Co., which built railroad cars, and established himself as the best all-around player on the team — he caught and pitched, using an unorthodox wind-up that baffled batters.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/hof13/story/_/id/8849820/hall-famer-deacon-white

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Originally published: January 16, 2013. Last Updated: January 16, 2013.