Whit, King Solomon - Sol

King Solomon "Sol" White

Born: June 12, 1868, in Bellaire, Ohio
Died: August 26, 1955, in Central Islip, New York

A true renaissance man, Sol White lived all aspects of early black baseball. He played in organized baseball for integrated teams and all-black teams; played, captained, and managed for the best barnstorming teams; wrote the first definitive history of black baseball; and penned numerous columns for leading black weekly newspapers.

A hard-hitting infielder, White signed his first contract in 1887 with the Pittsburgh Keystones of the short-lived National Colored League. After the Colored League folded, the 19-year-old White moved to the Wheeling (WV) franchise of the Ohio State League where he batted .381 in 45 games (sixth-best among players with 40 games)*. Wheeling briefly re-signed him in 1888, but his white teammates forced his release before he appeared in a game.

White then moved on to the highest ranks of black baseball. From 1889-1891, he appeared with all-Black teams in official minor leagues, batting at least .324 each year, before joining top black barnstorming squads like the New York Big Gorhams (1891), the Cuban Giants (1892-1894), and the Page Fence Giants (1895). From 1896-1900, White split time between classes at Wilberforce University and the Cuban X Giants. He joined the Chicago Columbia Giants for a year then returned to captain the X Giants.

In 1902, he teamed with white sportswriter H. Walter Schlichter to found the Philadelphia Giants. For the next eight years White co-owned, managed, and played for his team, one of the era's best. The Giants claimed the mythic black national championship three times under White.

Drawing on his experiences, White authored and published a history of black baseball in 1907. Sol White's History of Colored Baseball was the first volume of its kind. A remarkably accurate narrative, it preserved the story of pioneering black players for future generations.

After leaving the Giants, White managed the Brooklyn Royal Giants (1910) and the New York Lincoln Giants (1911-1912), before a long period of semi-retirement, punctuated by stints with the Columbus Buckeyes (1920), the Cleveland Browns (1924), and the Newark Stars (1926).

He spent most of his remaining years as a journalist, writing columns for, and granting interviews to, important African American newspapers like the Cleveland Advocate, the New York Amsterdam News, the New York Age, and the Pittsburgh Courier.

White died in a state hospital on Long Island in 1955.

(* In 1887, for one year only, leagues in organized baseball counted walks as hits, leading to inflated averages.)

Authored by Greg Bond