One of the lesser known Yankee stars, due to his tenure during their lean years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Roy White was a switch-hitting threat with good on-base skills and fine outfield coverage. A two-time All-Star, White rests in the Top 20 all-time in career fielding percentage among left fielders.
When Roy joined the Yankees in 1965, they still had Mantle and Maris but the two stars were only shadows of their former selves. The Bronx Bombers were falling rapidly in the standings and fans knew they needed an influx of young talent. White came aboard in ’65 but when he hit below .230 in both 1966 and ’67, it appeared that he wasn’t the next man to carry the torch. But Roy enjoyed his breakout year in 1968 when he led American League left fielders in stolen bases while also beginning a four-year string of leading left fielders in fielding percentage.
An All-Star for the first time in 1969, White legged out 30 doubles and hit .290 as the Yankees finished a game under .500 for skipper Ralph Houk. The following year, Roy was the only 20 homerun/20 stolen base left fielder in the junior circuit. He also paced his position peers in doubles and runs scored–he was the only AL left fielder to cross the plate 100 times.
In 1971 Roy fielded his position at a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. The switch-hitter also led the league in sacrifice flies while topping his position peers in RBI and batting average. With his eye honed to perfection in 1972, Roy led the American League with 99 walks which pushed his on-base percentage up to the enviable mark of .384 (4th in the AL). His 1973 season was adequate, as he paced AL left fielders in hits despite his batting average falling to an un-Roy White like .246.
But it took Roy twelve years in pinstripes before he made his first postseason appearance. The lean years for the Yankees finally came to an end in 1976 when they captured the AL East flag. During the regular season Roy led the league in runs scored and he added an extra four more footprints on home plate in an ALCS victory over the Royals. The Yankees had finally become a good team again but it was at the twilight of Roy’s career.
They repeated as AL champs in 1977 and Roy won his first World Series ring that year. The following season he hit .318 in the ALCS then had his finest hour in the ’78 World Series. Roy hit .333 during the Fall Classic with a .429 on-base percentage. His great on-base skills during the ’78 World Series allowed him to score nine runs during the contest. His skills eroded quickly in 1979 and he lost playing time to other players. He left the Yankees for Japan after the ’79 season and played a few years in the Land of the Rising Sun.
G 1,881/R 964/H 1,803/2B 300/3B 51/HR 160/RBI 758/SB 233/BB 934/SO 708/BA .271/SA .404/OBP .360