Learning Something New Everyday: Chicago Cubs Prospect Jesse White

Baseball is a funny sport, namely with how a game or season can play out. Or how a career can play out. The Major League Baseball amateur draft can also be funny with future stars of other sports getting drafted.

With how many professional teams there are in baseball, it seems there’s a former pro player around every corner. I consider myself a big student of the game, especially when it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball. When I discover a Cubs trivia nugget, it makes my day. Today was one of those days.

No Cubs baseball cards arrived in the mail on Tuesday, though a couple packages did show up in my mailbox Monday (blog to come). What was discovered on Tuesday, though, was a long-time politician from my home state played in the Cubs minor league system.

It all began when I saw the following tweet from the Cubs_Live account.

These types of posts take me down a Cubs rabbit hole reading responses, and then coming up with my own. I could have gone much deeper, but chose to go with…

Not sure why Hector Villanueva popped into my head, but was looking for a former Cubs player from recent memory, and the early 1990’s seemed a good fit.

As I perused the responses, a certain one stood out.

Jesse White is the Secretary of State in Illinois. He has been since 1999. Being my home state, and I was in high school when he was elected, it’s a well-known name. At first I didn’t really believe what I was seeing. Was this some promotional picture when White was a youth?

No, it wasn’t. My first search was the Baseball Reference website and was shocked to see Jesse White played in the Cubs minor league system for seven seasons. This discovery was instant blog material, so I wrote it in my note pad to save for a rainy day (or a day when the mailman didn’t deliver any Cubs cards). Today’s blog post was actually going to review Monday’s mailday, but there was a sure sign that I needed to post this Jesse White blog today.

Terrapin’s Moo-Hoo. Terrapin is a brewery in Athens, Georgia. Moo-Hoo is a seasonal chocolate milk stout that I have had only one time, and until this summer Terrapin has not distributed in the midwest. What does this have anything to do with Jesse White?

Alabama State. My last job was directing the radio network at Western Illinois University. Part of my duties was to broadcast play-by-play for the football and men’s basketball teams which included traveling with each squad. In December of 2013, we embarked on a long road trip that began in Montgomery, Alabama playing the Alabama State Hornets….the alma mater of Jesse White.

On that road trip after dinner I descended upon the hotel bar and ordered a Moo-Hoo by Terrapin. It sounded good. It also set me back $10.75 which blew my entire $10 per diem for the day. It was delicious, and for the past six years I’ve been waiting for Terrapin to distribute to Illinois and Wisconsin. They finally have!

After work on Tuesday, I visited Total Wine, a new liquor store that is the Toys ‘R Us for adults who like alcohol. Moo-Hoo was in stock and the Jesse White blog couldn’t wait due to the Alabama State connection.

White wrapped up his Alabama State baseball career after graduating in 1957. He was then called to action and served in the United States Army from 1957 to 1959, and upon his return went to Wrigley Field for a tryout with the Chicago Cubs.

White’s initial assignment within the Cubs organization was during the 1959 season with the Carlsbad Potashers. Potash is used in fertilizer, and I have a client in New Mexico specializing in fertilizers that use potash. I digress. White played in 53 games that season and hit below the Mendoza Line (.199) before Mario even created it.

He then played for the Lancaster Red Roses of the Eastern League and St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League in 1960. By 1961, Jesse White was with the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Class B Northwest League teaming up with future Chicago Cubs Ken Hubbs, Billy Cowan, Cal Koonce, and Moe Morhardt.

San Antonio was home for the 1962 season with the double-A Missions. White batted .294 with 23 doubles and 11 triples earning a promotion to triple-A Salt Lake City for the 1963 season. White played two seasons for the Bees hitting .285 and .250 with a combined 36 doubles and 11 triples over the two seasons.

It was surprising when looking at Salt Lake’s roster that 25 of the 31 players would register time in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, Jesse White was one of the six that would not make the big leagues. He did not play in 1965, and finished his baseball career in 1966.

Jesse White (D-Illinois) will seek a sixth term for Secretary of State of Illinois on November 6 facing Jason Helland (R-Illinois)

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