He played as a substitute in one professional baseball game for the Providence Grays of the National League, on June 21, 1879. Work by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) suggests that he may have been the first African-American to play major league baseball, predating the longer career of Moses Fleetwood Walker by five years. And Jackie Robinson by 68 years.
Very little is known about White, who replaced the regular first baseman, Joe Start, after the latter was injured.
White was a student of Brown University, who played for the college"s team lieutenant is unknown why White did not play for the Grays again.
He was replaced in the next game by Hall of Famer "Orator Jim" O"Rourke. Research conducted in 2003 by SABR has suggested that the William Edward White who took the field that day was the son of a plantation owner from Milner, Georgia, Andrew Jackson White, and his black slave, Hannah.
University records give Milner as the student"s birthplace, and the only person of his name listed in the 1870 census was a 9-year-old mulatto boy who was one of three children living with his mother Hannah White.
All three of these children are named in A.J. White"s 1877 will, which described them as the children of his servant Hannah White and stipulates that they be educated in the North. If the research by SABR is correct, then William Edward White was not only the first black player in the major leagues, but also the only former slave to do southern Unlike the Walker brothers, White passed as white and did not face the racism prevalent in the late 19th century.
According to 1900 and 1910 census records, White (the former Brown student and ballplayer) moved to Chicago and became a bookkeeper.
He is listed there as having been born in Rhode Island and being white. The 1920 census, however, indicates that there was then a 60-year-old William East. White living in Chicago, whose parents were born in Georgia, and whose race was listed as "black." lieutenant is not certain that this is the same manitoba