During his over 40 years in the game of baseball, Bill White was a successful player, broadcaster and executive. Now, you can add author to the list.
“Uppity: My Untold Story About the Games People Play” is due out on April 1, an ironic date considering White earned the reputation of being nobody’s fool. As a college educated black man playing throughout the segregated south in the minors and then in St. Louis as a big leaguer, White’s career began in the early days of integration, continued with him becoming the first black man to hold a full-time broadcasting position and then culminated with him blazing another trail as the first minority to be appointed to a major executive position in major league baseball.
This afternoon, White joined WFAN’s Mike Francessa in the studio for an hour to promote his book, which focuses on the obstacles he had to overcome during his career. In his discussion with Francessa, White mentioned that his main motivation for writing the book was to educate people, but mostly modern players, about the how far the game of baseball has come since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
For perspective, when White broke into the big leagues segregation was still rampant, especially in the south and during spring training. After playing his first game, one newspaper headline read “No Jittery Big-Time Debut for Giants’ Negro Rookie”. Even though he debuted nine years after Robinson, black players in White’s era were still expected to keep a low profile. As the book describes, that was apparently the one thing White could not do.
Bill White, 22-year old New York Giants rookie, is a somber young man who refused to be nervous over his first appearance in a major league lineup.” – AP, May 8, 1956
Most Yankees fans who are over 30 years old have some memory of White on the air, either doing radio for WMCA, WINS or WABC or TV for WPIX. If George Steinbrenner had his way, however, White could have left a different stamp on the team. In his interview with Francessa, White stated that the Boss once offered him the job of General Manager. Considering the job security of that position compared to his broadcast role, White obviously made the right choice.
During his long career, White was always a no-nonsense guy who was never shy about speaking his mind. To some in the game, that made him uppity. Although meant as a form of derision, it probably was an apt description. Because of his intelligence and independence, White was not only always lifting himself up, but bringing many others with him along the way.
There have been lots of interesting baseball books published in the past year or so, but there should still be room on every bookshelf for this one. White deserves a place of admiration as a genuine baseball trail blazer, so hopefully his untold story will finally give him proper credit for his many ground breaking accomplishments.