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  • Deacon White

    Now that Deacon White has been voted into the Hall of Fame, I realize that I know nothing about him other than his stat sheet. Can anyone shed some light on him regarding an evaluation of his "worthiness" as a hall of famer?

    I'm not sure if this should be here or on the Hall of Fame board, but I've always been impressed with the historical knowledge of many of the posters here, so I look forward to getting an education about our newest Hall of Famer.

  • #2
    His Hall selection appears to be about his historical significance and some good performance.

    He had the first ever professional baseball league plate appearance, The National Association, 1871. In a time where catchers were barehanded, he caught the most games and was thought to be the best; also helped win five straight titles. Led the league RBI as a catcher; the next catcher to do that would be Campanella 70+ years later. There were some good numbers put up along the way, which some would discount due to his era. I look at him, like with anyone else. They played in the same era and faced the same circumstances and he set himself apart, period. This notion we often hear, "he dominated weaker competition" is silly to me. He didn't come from some higher level league, he was part of that league.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post

      He had the first ever professional baseball league plate appearance, The National Association, 1871.
      From what I've read, White made the 1st ever hit in the NA.

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      • #4
        There were 3 19th century catchers who have been elected into the Hall of Fame: Buck Ewing, King Kelly, and Deacon White.
        I think this is a fair assessment of the 19th century. Now, none of these player were solely catchers. They were known to play several positions. But out of all the players who were top notch 19th century catchers, I believe these 3 had the best careers and all deserve the HOF.

        But there's more to these catchers then just their place in the 19th century. I believe that they were the best catchers in the whole history of baseball until we hit the 1930s, at which point the 1920s debuts (Hartnett, Cochrane, Dickey) proved that their careers were every bit was good or better.

        So I see a 60+ year history (pre-1871 - 1929) when Ewing, Kelly, and White were the best historical catchers in baseball. That's a long time.
        For perspective, that's a longer period of time than the Red Sox, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, etc. have been integrated.

        Also, if we can call Deacon White a catcher, then we can say no other catcher other than White had 2000+ career hits until Yogi Berra did in the early 60s.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dgarza View Post
          From what I've read, White made the 1st ever hit in the NA.
          I've read the same about Ross Barnes. I'm unsure if the original box score exists.
          Last edited by bluesky5; 12-05-2012, 01:01 PM.
          "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
            I've read the same about Ross Barnes. I'm unsure if the original box score exists.
            I've heard Ross Barnes hit the 1st NL home run. But I don't know about the NA.

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            • #7
              --White was the best catcher an one of the best players of the 1870s. He was a major star and a leader of championship teams. So he is a strong peak candidate, assuming you believe the best players of every era should be represented (which I most definately do). He then played tgrough the 80s as a solid 3B, giving him a strong career case.
              --The career numbers are low because seasons were so much shorter when he played and his rates are less than exception because they were even shorter in his best years. Still if I were picking 10 players from the first generation of MLB White would be on the list. His selection was long overdue IMO.

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              • #8
                I didn't realize Will White was his brother. I couldn't break his pitching records with the Reds on All-Star Baseaball 2005.
                "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

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                • #9
                  I'm kind of in love with Deacon, so I'm happy to share some of my favorite links…

                  Some that I wrote:
                  http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/201...gration-ballot
                  http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/201...1-19th-century
                  http://www.hallofstats.com/player/whitede01

                  Some that others wrote:
                  http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Deacon_White
                  http://sabr.org/research/deacon-whit...century-legend
                  http://research.sabr.org/journals/james-deacon-white
                  http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...ball-Hall-Fame
                  The Hall of Stats: An alternate Hall of Fame populated by a mathematical formula.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                    So I see a 60+ year history (pre-1871 - 1929) when Ewing, Kelly, and White were the best historical catchers in baseball. That's a long time.
                    For perspective, that's a longer period of time than the Red Sox, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, etc. have been integrated.
                    That's interesting. So you would consider White better than Bresnahan? Since I don't know anything about White I don't have a reason to doubt it, but I considered Bresnahan the greatest catcher until 1929 outside of Ewing. Not sure about Kelly since he played 167 more games in the OF than he did behind the dish.

                    Hard to fathom how anyone could play catcher without a mitt, even with the greater distance behind the batter.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                      I've heard Ross Barnes hit the 1st NL home run. But I don't know about the NA.
                      I've been periodically looking. Seems like your right dgarza.
                      "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CTaka View Post
                        That's interesting. So you would consider White better than Bresnahan? Since I don't know anything about White I don't have a reason to doubt it, but I considered Bresnahan the greatest catcher until 1929 outside of Ewing. Not sure about Kelly since he played 167 more games in the OF than he did behind the dish.
                        Alot of these players bounced around the field often. Bresnahan did as well. Like the others I've mentioned, some of Bresnahans's best years were non-catcher seasons.

                        I don't have Bresnahan quite as high as White, Kelly, and Ewing, but that's not the point. Even if I did include him, he would not be universally held in higher regard than the rest. So instead of just 3, maybe we have 4 catchers who would all be equally valid picks for best catcher in a 60 year stretch. That's strong historical argument for White (or any of them).

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