Born James Laurie White in Caton, New York on December 2, 1847 He was given the nickname of “Deacon” due to his stellar behavior on and off the field.
Deacon White Career
In 20 big league seasons, White posted a career batting average of .312 to go with 2,067 hits in just 1,560 games. He led his league in batting average twice and RBI three times.
White was born in Caton, New York, the son of farmer Lester S. White (born c. 1820) and his wife Adeline (born c. 1823). The couple had at least eight children: Oscar Leroy (born c. 1844), James, Elmer Melville (born c. 1851), William (1854 – 1911), Phebe Davis (born c. 1856), Estelle (born c. 1858), George (c. 1862 – after 1939) and Hattie (born c. 1867); they also adopted a girl named Phebe Maynard (born c. 1876) in March 1872, his cousin Elmer was the first recorded professional baseball player to die.
At one time in Deacon White’s professional career, he played all nine positions on the field, including two appearances pitching. But it was as a barehanded catcher – and later as a third baseman – that White left an indelible mark on the game.
Deacon played all nine positions in is professional career, He only had two pitching performances and was primarily a catcher. He was a standout catcher in the era of barehanded catching.Catchers used no equipment and were positioned further back from the batter than today. He was good enough to catch the ball and throw runners out. That was unheard of in his time.
The first hit in the history of the National Association was from the bat of Deacon White on May 4,1871. The National Association is recognized as the first major leagues.
Then in 1873, White lead the National Association in RBI’s with 77 while he played for the Boston Red Stockings. In 1875, he helped guide them to a 71-8 record while batting .367 for the season.
The National League went into existence in 1976 and Deacon joined the Chicago White Stockings. He became the first National League RBI champion by amassing 60 RBI’s. In 2877, he went back to Boston and led the league with 103 hits.. 103 triples and 49 RBI’d along with a .950 OPS.
He began playing other positions. He moved on to the Buffalo Bisons in 1882 and became a third baseman. He played until 1890 and at the age of 42, he retired. Deacon White compiled a 181 OB% and played in 122 games in his final year.
White died on on July 7, 1939.
Other 19th Century Stars as completed
Look for more 19th Century Stars articles that will include:
- Harry Stover
- Bill Dahlen
- Ross Barnes
- Tony Mullane
- Jack Glasscock
- Bob Caruthers
- William Hoyt
- Jim Creighton
- Charlie Bennett
- Bobby Mathews
- Tommy Bond
- Grant”Home Run” Johnson
- Paul Hines
- Charlie Ferguson
- John Clarkson
… and several others that are yet to be identified for this series.