An Update to Providence, Rhode Island: 21 June 1879

In the post of 12 August 2013 titled Providence, Rhode Island: 21 June 1879, I commented that I was still researching the issue of whether “B. White” in the box score was William Edward White, first baseman for the Brown University baseball team. Here’s an update on what I’ve found.

There is a wonderful new book out titled Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the Nineteenth Century Edited by Bill Felber and published by SABR. In it there is an article by John R. Husman that looks at the 21 June 1879 game. The article quotes extensively from both the Providence Journal and the Providence Morning Star. Although neither newspaper addresses White’s race (if you look at my previous article you’ll find they may not have known he was of mixed race), they do give answers to two questions I couldn’t answer previously.

1. Providence first baseman Joe Start was out because of a broken finger. I was unable in the previous post to explain why Start didn’t play (and I just resisted an awful play on word by saying I didn’t know why Start didn’t start).

2. The newspapers make it clear that the sub is indeed the Brown University first baseman. “‘ White, the first baseman for the University nine”‘, appears in the Journal and the Morning Star adds that “the Varsity boys lustily cheered their favorite.”‘. This indicates that the first baseman playing for the Providence Grays (against the Cleveland Blues) was indeed William Edward White.

All this makes a compelling case for declaring that White is the only former slave to play in a Major League game (at least that we can find so far).

BTW  if you’re interested, you can pick up the book from Barnes and Noble.

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One Response to “An Update to Providence, Rhode Island: 21 June 1879”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Excellent research. I’ll have to find the book.
    Nicely done,
    Bill

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