At Long Last, the Deacon Is In

Jul 29, 2013 by Adam Darowski

Yesterday, in front of one of the smallest Cooperstown crowds in recent memory, Deacon White was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The honor came 74 years after his death, but much better late than never.

Jerry Watkins, White’s 66-year-old great-grandson, delivered an excellent induction speech on behalf of the great barehanded catcher and pioneer. I smiled as I heard Watkins thank both Joe Williams and Peter Morris, two great people I’ve met because of Deacon.

Morris, a historian and author, was part of the 16-member Pre-Integration Era committee that inducted White (along with Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and umpire Hank O'Day).

Williams is a longtime SABR member who has championed White’s induction for far longer than I have. Joe chairs SABR’s Nineteenth Century Overlooked Legend Committee—a committee he asked me to join a few months ago. Deacon was voted the 2010 Overlooked Legend and is now the first recipient of the award to eventually make it into Cooperstown (the 2013 winner will be announced in just a couple days).

I was pleased to hear that Joe was able to spend much of the weekend with White’s family. He even gave them a tour of the Hall of Fame. Sounds like a pretty magical weekend for not only Joe but the family. I couldn’t be happier for all of them.

I can’t help but feel a little something extra for this induction. Not only is White a player I’ve felt strongly about for some time, but Peter Morris also told me (although maybe he was just being nice) that he was very impressed with the approach I took when analyzing Deacon’s career. He found my work when preparing his research for the election. So, at the very least, someone very much involved in the process of inducting White was familiar with my work. I doubt I made much of an impact (Morris himself needed no convincing about Deacon), but simply knowing that is neat. Sometimes I pretend that Bert Blyleven clicked over to my site and said “well, if those stat geeks like Deacon as much as they liked me, he must be a Hall of Famer!”

Congratulations to Deacon White. Congratulations to Jerry Watkins. Congratulations to Joe Williams and Peter Morris. Congratulations to the Hall of Fame. It’s been a tough year for you, but your fine establishment is a better place with Deacon enshrined.

Note: I wrote an article for USA Today Sports Weekly about Deacon’s induction. The print version was published before the induction while the (slightly modified) online version went up shortly after.

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