Mike White is descended from a rich baseball heritage. His father, Jo-Jo, spent the better part of half of a century as a major league outfielder, manager, and coach. Having such access to the game undoubtedly led Mike to embrace baseball and embark on his own career.
A slight 5’8 160 pound right-handed hitting and throwing outfielder, White was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1958. His father was an Indian scout that year, so the team likely had knowledge of Mike through him, although he was signed by somebody else.
White’s career was nearly over before it started, as he suffered a debilitating knee injury during a scrimmage shortly after signing. Although he ultimately made enough progress to play again, he ran with a pronounced limp from that point forward. He did not play at all during the 1958 season, but returned and played two seasons in the Cleveland minor league system.
Expansion proved to be what would give White his chance to play in the majors. He played in the minors for the Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and then was taken in that offseason by the Houston Colt .45s. He hit well for them in the minors and was finally brought up to the big league club in 1963.
White ultimately played parts of the 1963-1965 seasons with Houston. His best season with them by far was 1964, when he appeared in 89 games, hitting .271, with 27 RBI. He also had three 4-hit games that year. Another of his accomplishments was going 9 for 18 during his career against star pitcher Vern Law.
Unfortunately White did not hit for power, and his knee injury robbed him of any speed. He was a good, but not a great hitter, and once Houston had played a few seasons and established themselves more, he was made expendable. He ended up playing in the minors through the 1969 season with Houston, the Angels, and the Cubs, but never made it back to baseball’s biggest stage. More information about his career statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/whitemi02.shtml.
Recently I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to White and find out a little more about his experiences in baseball.
Mike White Questionnaire:
If you could do anything differently about your playing career, what would that be?: I started out as a shortstop, and a base runner slid into me, dislocating my knee. I missed the first year. I should have gotten out of the way.
What is the strangest thing you ever saw as a player on the baseball diamond?: Hank Aaron hit a line drive off pitcher Turk Farrell’s forehead, and the second baseman Joe Morgan caught it for the out.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: My Dad, who was Jo-Jo White. He spent 42 years in baseball.
What current players remind you the most of those from your era?: Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
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