William Edward White

Brown University Baseball Team,
1879 National Champions.
One of these players is now regarded as the earliest black baseball player in big league history.

His name was William Edward White.

 

William Edward White
Is sitting directly behind the manager in the team photo.

 

“An answer commonly given to the question of who was the first black man to play major-league baseball is still Jackie Robinson in 1947. Knowledgeable baseball people know that Robinson was preceded by the Walker brothers, Moses and Weldy, for Toledo in 1884. Recent research, led by SABR’s Peter Morris, has uncovered evidence of still earlier African American participation in the major leagues. Morris’s detective work reveals that William Edward White, a former slave, had a one-game career for the National League’s Providence Grays on June 21, 1879.”

To read the balance of this most informative brief article by John R. Husman, please click the following link:

https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-21-1879-cameo-william-edward-white

The Pecan Park Eagle also wants to thank reader/colleague/friend, Bill Hickman for calling our attention to the deeper meaning of the same Browns baseball photo that we used yesterday in a much lighter look column on the sport in the “good old summertime days” era. In irony, Bill’s mention of William Edward White “to have been (documented as) the first Afro-American (to play) in the majors, preceding Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother Weldy Walker by five years,” as a far more accurate display of the zeitgeist of post-Civil War America.

So-called “people of color” simply didn’t have the same rights and opportunities as white people in America and, like almost all other avenues of possibility, baseball was busy signing on to the idea that our country could go from slavery ending with the Civil War to a “separate, but equal” society that divided people on the basis of color. ~ What a pile of crock that was!

Today we, at least, have a game in which everybody who plays well enough, will play. In fact, these are the good old days – the only ones we’ll ever have. – Smack dab in the here and now. – The only place anything ever gets done.

Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance once had a nice ring, but I like our Houston Astros 6-4-3 play better, especially when all three of our main guys are in the lineup for the Astros. It’a a long one. It goes from “Puerto Rico-to-Venezuela-to-Cuba-Ole!”

Enough rambling. Racism is the human race cancer. And it needs to die. In all forms.  As this man did, no one ever should have to pass for white, just to get a foot in the door. And that’s why it’s important to remember people like William Edward White, even if others suffered far more by comparison. No one among us should have to go through what he encountered to hide his true identity for the simple sake of avoiding someone else’s need to hate.

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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One Response to “William Edward White”

  1. Mark W. Says:

    PRVC! It’s the new Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.

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