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William Edward White

First Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Providence
  • Team: Grays (NL)
  • League: National League

William Edward White (1860-1937) has been declared by the researchers at SABR to be the most likely “first black player” in major league baseball. White, the son of a Georgia merchant and his slave, played on the Brown University team and, on June 21, 1879, substituted for an injured Joe Start at first base for the Providence Grays. White’s stint in the big leagues for this National League squad lasted only that summer solstice. With his Brown teammates cheering from the stands, White went 1-for-4, stole two bases, scored a run and recorded 12 putouts without an error, drawing rave reviews from the local papers and contributing to a 5-3 win for the title-bound Grays and a 19 year old pitcher named John Montgomery Ward. Despite the Providence Journal reporting that White would continue to play first base for the team's next series against Boston, he was replaced by regular right fielder and Hall of Famer Jim O’Rourke, who continued to man the position until Start returned. White then stepped back into society where he passed for Caucasian. This is borne out by census records showing he claimed Rhode Island birth and being of white race.

  • It has been suggested that White had always passed as white, thereby escaping suspicion in the baseball world and dodging "the virulent racism prevalent in the late 19th century." This may explain in part why the true identity of the first black ballplayer in major league baseball history went largely unknown for about 125 years.
  • It is likely that White is the only former slave to play major league baseball.
  • White’s death resulted from a fall on Chicago’s ice. His death certificate shows him to be Caucasian, affirming this mixed-race man spent a lifetime seeking to avoid the stigma of being black in Jim Crow America.

Auction History

Dave Orr

First Base
  • Series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

David L. Orr (1859-1915). A 1st baseman for 5 teams over 7 major league seasons, Orr was one of the best hitters of the 1880s. Largely forgotten today, Orr may have made a case for the Hall of Fame were it not for a career-ending, paralyzing stroke suffered on the field in 1890. Dave’s .342 lifetime average is 11th all-time & in 4 of 7 seasons, his closest comp is Dan Brouthers.

Brouthers himself believed Orr was the greatest hitter of his time:

"The greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. He didn't care whether they were over the plate or not. If they were within reach of that long bat of his he would hit them out, and when he hit them there was no telling whether they would be found again or not. I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball." - Dan Brouthers, Sporting Life, 1894

  • Won AA batting title: 1884
  • Won AA RBI crown: 1884
  • Lead AA in hits: 1884 & 1886
  • Lead AA in triples: 1885 & 1886

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 360-1

Long John Reilly

First Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Cincinnati
  • Team: Red Stockings (AA)
  • League: American Association

John Good Reilly (1858-1937) was a one-man Big Red Machine long before the days of Bench, Morgan and Rose. When he was replaced at first base by Charles Comiskey in 1892, Long John held the Cincinnati Reds franchise records for singles, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, RBI, and games played. His decade with the Reds had seen Reilly consistently rank in the league's top ten in most offensive categories. In addition, his lean 6’3” frame made him a welcome first base target for his teammates. To this day, after more than a century of powerhouses in the Queen City, Reilly remains one of only four in team history to twice lead the league in HRs. In 2012 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, which according to the team’s website is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame.

  • Reilly had been orphaned at age three when his father died in the Battle of Fort Donelson while serving as captain of a Union ironclad gunboat
  • Long John grew up in Cincinnati as a professional artist until lured by his love of baseball. He was loyal to his hometown, retiring rather than moving to another club
  • 69 career home runs were impressive for the era

Auction History

Jay Faatz

First Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Cleveland
  • Team: Blues (AA)
  • League: American Association

Jayson S. Faatz (1859-1923) was a long, lean first-baseman with speed, spunk and the mouth of a drunken sailor. His brief tenure in the major leagues was marked by poor offensive output and notable regard by his bosses. Despite mediocre hitting stats and the temperament of a wounded wolverine, Jay was repeatedly chosen to lead his teammates on the field. He served as player-manager in the minors and majors and was a key ally of John Montgomery Ward in the creation of the Players' League. Faatz came out of the Canadian circuits to Pittsburgh's misbegotten American Association entry late in the 1884 season, getting into 29 games as the club finished 11th of 13. He last played in the PL after moving from Cleveland to Buffalo. A colorful sports reporter of the time, Ernest Jarrold, once described the inner machinations that produced the Players' League. He spoke of Faatz, with his 6'4” sub-200 lb frame as “one of the most striking figures” involved. He dubbed Faatz “the most expert poker player in the United States” with a passion for diamonds, which were always tucked on his person. He not only cut a dashing image but was a “level-headed, clear thinker, and the orator of the Brotherhood,” per Jarrold.

  • Faatz' career average was as lean as the player: .241. Yet one of his three lifetime home runs was noteworthy. His grounder bounced off third-sacker Deacon White's foot and rolled under the stands, yielding a three-run “blast” that never left the infield, per David Nemec of SABR
  • In one of those Old Judge idiosyncrasies, Goodwin's editors elected to identify Faatz as "Capt." on his three Old Judge entries while curiously omitting his defensive position. One might assume that this speaks to Faatz' reputation as more of a leader than a skilled ballplayer.

Auction History

Jake Daubert

First Base
  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Brooklyn
  • Team: Robins
  • League: National League

Jacob Ellsworth Daubert (1884-1924) is considered by some the best first-baseman NOT in the Hall. His fielding was never below .989, he led the NL in batting 1913 & ’14, and was MVP in ’13. Seven times from 1911-19 he was named to Baseball Magazine’s All-America team. Popular with players and fans, his union activity alienated management.

  • Charles Ebbetts sent him from Brooklyn to the Reds in 1919 following a salary dispute
  • Became ill and died during his final road trip with the Reds in 1924

Auction History