Jo-Jo White

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This article is about the former baseball player. For the former National Basketball Association player, see Jo Jo White.
Jo-Jo White
Jo-Jo White.jpg
Outfielder
Born: (1909-06-01)June 1, 1909
Red Oak, Georgia
Died: October 9, 1986(1986-10-09) (aged 77)
Tacoma, Washington
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1932 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1944 for the Cincinnati Reds
Career statistics
Batting average .256
Hits 678
Stolen bases 92
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Joyner Clifford "Jo-Jo" White (June 1, 1909 – October 9, 1986) was an American center fielder in professional baseball. He played nine seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1932–38), Philadelphia Athletics (1943–44), and Cincinnati Reds (1944). Born in Red Oak, Georgia, Joyner White was known as "Jo-Jo" because of the way he pronounced the name of his native state of Georgia.

The 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m), 165 lb (75 kg) White batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He began his playing career in minor league baseball in 1928 and after four full years of apprenticeship, he made the Tigers' roster at age 22 at the outset of the 1932 season.

Outfielder for Tigers' 1934–35 champs[edit]

White was the starting center fielder for the Detroit Tigers teams that won back-to-back American League pennants in 1934 and 1935, and the 1935 World Series.

In 1934, he batted .313, scored 97 runs, and stole 28 bases—the second most in the American League. His .418 on-base percentage was seventh best in the league. He played in all seven games of the 1934 World Series, walking eight times and scoring six runs against the Gashouse Gang St. Louis Cardinals, who beat Detroit in seven games.

In 1935, White's batting average dropped 73 points to .240, but he still scored 82 runs and was among the AL leaders with 12 triples and 19 stolen bases. He played in five games of the 1935 World Series, scoring three runs with a .417 on-base percentage. White also hit a single in the 11th inning of Game 3 to drive in Marv Owen for the win, contributing to the Tigers' first-ever world championship, as they defeated the Chicago Cubs in six games.

White was roommates with Detroit slugger Hank Greenberg for five years. In his autobiography, Greenberg wrote that they had a great relationship and enjoyed being on the road together, though they "used to fight the Civil War every night." Greenberg noted that "no two people could be more different than me, coming from the Bronx, and Jo-Jo White, claiming he came from Atlanta."[1] White even confessed once to Greenberg that, "I thought all you Jews had horns on your head." [2]

Later playing career[edit]

In 1936, White lost the starting job in center field and remained a backup with the Tigers from 1936 to 1938. After playing in only 55 games in the outfield in 1938, White was frustrated with his limited playing time. After "a drink or two" on a train ride late in the 1938 season, White "decided to attack" a brand new felt hat purchased by manager Del Baker. Baker finally found out that it was White who had deliberately ruined the hat, and White was traded to the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League on December 12 as part payment for young pitcher Fred Hutchinson.[3] White played for Seattle for four full seasons (1939–42), helping them win the PCL pennant in both 1940 and 1941.

White returned to the Major Leagues during World War II, following the depletion of the talent pool as top players went into military service. In 1943, he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics and played in more games (139) and had more at bats (500) and hits (124) than any other season in his career. After playing 85 games for the A's in 1944, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in August, finishing his career by playing 24 games for the Reds.

His Cincinnati service concluded White's MLB playing career. In nine seasons, he had a lifetime batting average of .256 in 878 games, with 678 hits, 456 runs scored, 386 walks, 42 triples, and 92 stolen bases.

White's playing career did not end in 1944, however. In 1945, he returned to the Pacific Coast League, and he had his finest pro season at age 36: 244 hits, 162 runs scored and a .355 batting average (all leading the PCL) while playing for the Sacramento Solons.[4] The following year, Sacramento sent White back to the Seattle Rainiers, where he made his managerial debut as a playing skipper late in the 1946 campaign. White also managed the Rainiers from 1947 through mid-1949, leading them to the 1948 playoffs. After his release in Seattle in 1949, he concluded his active career as a player only for the PCL Hollywood Stars, appearing in 31 games.

Coach and interim manager[edit]

He then had a long career as a scout, minor league manager and MLB coach, serving on the staffs of the Cleveland Indians (1958–60), Detroit Tigers (1960), Kansas City Athletics (1961–62), Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1963–66), and Kansas City Royals (1969), usually as third base coach. He was a longtime associate of manager Joe Gordon, working with him with the Indians, Tigers, Athletics and Royals.

Indeed, as a coach under Gordon, White was involved in the bizarre trade of managers between the Indians and Tigers on August 3, 1960. That day, the Indians' Gordon was swapped even-up for Tigers' manager Jimmy Dykes. As the two pilots prepared to change teams, Cleveland needed an interim manager and tabbed White to handle the Indians for their night game with the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. In White's only MLB game managed, he oversaw a 7–4 Indians' win. Mudcat Grant hurled a complete game, supported by second baseman Ken Aspromonte's home run and three runs batted in.[5] After the game, it was announced that White also "traded" teams—leaving the Indians to rejoin Gordon with Detroit, while Tigers' coach Luke Appling quit his post to rejoin Dykes with the Indians.[6]

White died at age 77 in Tacoma, Washington. He was inducted posthumously into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

His son Mike White, a center fielder and second baseman, played in the Major Leagues for the Houston Colt .45s/Astros from 1963–65.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hank Greenberg, "Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life, p. 46
  2. ^ Greenberg, op. cit., p. 190
  3. ^ Greenberg, op. cit., p. 123
  4. ^ Cardinals' Media Relations, ed. (2001). St. Louis Cardinals 2001 Media Guide. Hadler Printing Company. pp. D–20. 
  5. ^ 1960-8-3 box score from Retrosheet
  6. ^ The Associated Press, 4 August 1960

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jimmy Dykes
Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves third-base coach
1963–1966
Succeeded by
Bill Adair
Preceded by
Franchise established
Kansas City Royals third-base coach
1969
Succeeded by
Joe Schultz