Mickey White
Professional Baseball Scout

Picture of
 Mickey White

"Traveling Man"

They say the strength and longevity of a tree depends on the deepness and strength of its roots. Mickey White has deep, strong Brookline roots, and after years of traveling in the jet-set world of professional baseball, in November 1998 "The Mick" returned to Pittsburgh.

On November 23, 1998, Mickey signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their Director of Scouting, and although he was still a poll-setter in the yearly frequent flyer stakes, we saw much more of Mick then than we had in the past 25 years.

Imelda White, Mickey's mother, had been a Brookline resident since 1921 until her death in 2000. She moved into her perch on Bellaire Place in 1936, and Mickey was born on March 31, 1950. By age nine young Mick was showing signs of baseball stardom.

Playing for Johnny Leaf's, then Walt Evans', American Legion Little League team from 1959 through 1962, Mickey rang up three championships (1959-1960-1962) as an all-star catcher and a powerful hitter.

Picture of
 Mickey White with Sam Bryen
Danny McGibbeny (left) and Mickey share a moment
with Sam and "Boots" Bryen in 1963.

Long-time Little League manager Walt Evans recalled Mickey:

"His mother's name was Imelda. She told me: 'If he doesn't behave, Mr. Evans, belt him.' Now I wasn't about to, for he could really slug a ball and was about the only catcher who could handle my fastball ace, Bruce Nagel."

The Mick moved on to Senior League with DeBor Funeral Home, and brought his stick, glove and winning ways with him. DeBor won two championships ('63-'64) with Mick behind the plate and barely missed in 1965, his final season, losing in the championship series to American Legion.

Mickey reminisces: "Earl Bellisario pitched in the championship game (in 1965) and struck me out with the winning runs on 2nd and 3rd."

Well, nobody's perfect. But losing has never been a Mickey White trademark, and occurrences of such imperfection have been few and far between.

Thinking back to those days, Mickey recalls several Brookline players who had promising baseball futures. Jackie Flavin, Tommy O'Connor and Freddie Luvara, "the best player I can remember," all signed minor league contracts. Of the three, Tommy O'Connor went the furthest, making it all the way to the New York Yankees AAA farm team as a first baseman before a bad knee forced his retirement.

After four letterman seasons at South Hills Catholic High School, Mickey went on to play college ball at Rutgers University from 1969-1971, where he was honored as one of the Outstanding College Athletes Of The Year in his final season. Afterwards, he too signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and played catcher for Walla Walla of the Northwestern League.

Picture of
 Mickey White and Danny McGibbeny, 1965

Danny McGibbeny (left) and Mickey White in 1965.

Also during the 1972 and 1973 college seasons, while still a student, and having forgone his eligibility for collegiate athletics to sign on with the Phillies, Mick worked as assistant baseball coach at Rutgers.

Following an uneventful two seasons in the pros, Mick hung up his catchers glove and coaches cap, and began working for Lipton Tea in Quality Control, a position he held off and on for the next eight years. In his spare time he tried his hand at comedy, among other things.

There is definitely a trace of the showman in Mickey, and these roots can be traced back to a local Brookline pop band which during his high school years made its way around the local dance venues. The band featured Mickey on keyboards, Danny McGibbeny on drums, Joey Moreno and Ronnie Adamese on guitar, and Jerry Bucciarelli as the singer.

But baseball was in his blood. In addition to his feats as a player, during his teen years Mickey also worked with the clean-up crew at Forbes Field. So, after leaving Lipton in 1981, Mickey finally broke into the major leagues, with the Cincinnati Reds. His big chance did not come as a player however, but as a scout, and he set out to make the best of this new and exciting opportunity.

Mick always had a good eye for talent. After signing on with the Reds in 1982 as Scouting Supervisor for the New England area, Mickey and his team set out in search of baseball talent. His stint with the Reds is noted for his discovery of pitcher Rob Dibble.

Leaving the Reds in 1987, Mickey signed on with the Seattle Mariners for two years as their East Coast Scouting Supervisor. Then came a three year run as Scouting Director for the Cleveland Indians.

During his time with the Indians, Mickey's team brought in 18 players that eventually signed major league contracts, including All-Star Manny Ramirez.

As with most things in the professional baseball world, nothing remains constant, including jobs. Mickey soon found himself working with the International Management Group, organizing their new baseball academy to train young hopefuls. Then, in 1995, he signed on as Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, using his organizational skills to help prepare this expansion team for their professional debut.

Finally, in 1998, the Traveling Man found himself back home, mending the roots that had frayed but not broken during his 20-odd years away from the nest.

From 1998 through 2002, Mickey worked hard on mending the Pirates faltering farm system. His team of scouts had a difficult job to do, but true to form, Mick and his crew helped turn the Pirates minor league teams into winners, stocked with a bevy of fine young prospects. The Buccos may have been struggling with their Major League team, but the future looked a lot brighter due to the diligence and talent of their scouting department.

Unfortunately for Mickey, in July of 2001 the Pirates began a front office overhaul, and David Littlefield was named their new General Manager. Despite the success of the scouting department, Littlefield prefered to reshape the front office and bring in a new staff. Brookline's Traveling Man was again packing his bags.

In February of 2002, Mickey resigned his post as scouting director. His departure was met with mixed emotions in the front office. "It was a very difficult decision to let Mickey go because he is a very talented guy," Littlefield said.

For those who knew him best, their were no mixed emotions involved. It was sad to see Mickey moving on, after rekindling a little of that neighborly bond and seeing his Brookline roots mending so nicely.

Today, in August of 2004, you can find Mickey White working with the Baltimore Orioles. Undoubtedly the Orioles farm system will be looking up under the watchful eyes of our Mick.

What does the future hold in store for Mickey White, the traveling man? Who knows? One thing is for certain, success breeds success, and Mickey brings success wherever he goes. Major League baseball has benefited greatly from Mick's services, and those who know him have benefited greatly from his friendship.

We wish the best of luck to Mickey as he continues his journey through the back streets of professional baseball. Just don't forget where your roots are, right here in Brookline!

* Written by Clint Burton - August 25, 2004 *

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