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Having been subjected to considerable public pressure to choose a black for the presidency of the National League, a five-member search committee last Friday selected Bill White for the job. But White, who was voted in unanimously by league owners, shouldn't be seen as a good black choice. He's a good choice, period. He brings to the office not only 31 years of experience in the major leagues—13 as a standout first baseman with the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies, the last 18 as a Yankee broadcaster—but also a reputation for intelligence and forthrightness.
The search committee didn't hit upon White's name until the last few weeks of its four-month hunt. White may not have the curriculum vitae of outgoing National League president and commissioner-to-be Bart Giamatti, who was president of Yale, but his credentials bespeak talent and hard work: He graduated second in a high school class of 127 in Warren, Ohio, and won an academic scholarship to Hiram (Ohio) College, but the lure of a baseball career caused him to leave school after his junior year. While still in his prime as a player, White prepared for his second career by working his way into radio announcing; in 1971, two years after his retirement, he joined the Yankee broadcast crew and became baseball's first black play-by-play man.
Early in his career as a broadcaster, White spoke out against the absence of black managers and executives in-the game, a situation that has improved since then only by fits and starts. White has been equally outspoken throughout his tenure in the booth with former Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto, expressing both his strong dislike for the designated hitter and a yearning to see more spit and fire in today's ballplayers. Several teams approached White about managing jobs after his retirement as a player, and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner twice asked him to be the Yanks' general manager, but White turned down the offers. He felt that in those jobs his fate would depend too much on the performances of others.
"I can't address the question of race," White said on Friday, downplaying his role as a trailblazer. "Evidently, I meet the qualifications." Now baseball should follow up on White's selection by opening its front-office doors to other blacks. Perhaps then the hiring of a Bill White won't be so rare, and can be applauded without reference to color.
A BULL MARKET
YOU'RE GETTING WARMER
We know a third-grade boy in Rum-son, NJ., who's smarter than his teacher. Or, at least, he's more up-to-date on NBA expansion teams. He was doing a class exercise the other day when he was confronted by the following question: Miami is to heat as Chicago is to———. Our third-grader wrote, "Bulls," and was crestfallen when the teacher marked that answer wrong. She was looking for "cold."
The Chicago Cold? Never heard of 'em, Teach.
FREEDOM, SORT OF