Before Pete Gray

6 Aug

Pitcher Hugh Daily in the 1890s and outfielder Pete Gray in the 1940s are the only two men to play major league baseball with one arm, but they are not the only two to play professionally.

Hugh Daily

Hugh Daily

Twenty-five years before Pete Gray made his debut with Trois-Rivers in the Canadian-American League another outfielder who lost an arm to a childhood accident played professional baseball.

William P. “Bill” White was born in 1891 in Grantville, Georgia, and lost his right arm to a gun accident at age 13.  White played baseball and football at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

After college, White played for the 1917 Anniston Moulders in the Georgia-Alabama League.  While Baseball-Reference does not note White’s time at Anniston, showing only 2 players on the roster (Guy Lacy and Johnny Morrison), White’s time with the team is detailed in contemporary newspapers.

William P. “Bill” White

There are no official statistics available for White’s performance.  Some newspaper accounts labeled him “A fair hitter,” while other, much later accounts said, “His batting average was well above the .300 mark.”

After his year at Anniston, White played semi-pro ball and umpired until being named head coach at the University of Georgia in 1921.  White managed the Bulldogs until 1933 compiling a 224-100-7 record and was named conference coach of the year in 1933.  White also managed the ColumbusFoxes in the Southeastern League from 1928-1930.

White went to work for the Georgia Secretary of State and ran unsuccessfully for office in 1940, but maintained his interest in baseball.

In 1937 White put together a “One-armed baseball team” which played about 100 games with semi-pro teams around the south.  With the exception of the catcher, third baseman, and first baseman, White’s team was made up of players with one arm.  The pitcher, Orville Paul was said by Branch Rickey to be good enough to win in any Class A league.

White died in Rome, Georgia on January 22, 1947.

While neither played pro ball, two other players with one arm made headlines playing college baseball between 1910 and 1920.  Outfielders Dick Hooper of Texas and Eddie Ash of Wabash were both highly touted players, but neither made the jump to pro ball.

Eddie Ash

Dick Hooper

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2 Responses to “Before Pete Gray”

  1. Davis O. Barker December 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    William Newton “Dick” Hooper, one-armed outfielder with the University of Texas and Baylor University, actually did play professionally – although very briefly. He was signed by the Lufkin franchise of the Class D East Texas League in 1916. He mostly coached on the bases, but he did appear in several league games as a pinchrunner. The ETL in 1916 lasted only about a month before folding. No stats were submitted.

    • Thom Karmik December 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      Davis:

      Thank you. I had come across one reference that implied Hooper might have signed a pro contract, but was not able to confirm it. I appreciate the information.

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