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Biofile Roy White Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Note: This Biofile was conducted on June 21, 2011 at Mickey Mantles Restaurant in NYC to promote the third annual Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium.

Status: Former New York Yankees outfielder from 1965-1979.

Ht: 5-10  Wt: 175

DOB: December 27, 1943  In: Los Angeles, CA

First Baseball Memory: “Was watching the Los Angeles Angels, Pacific Coast League. That’s the first baseball, professional, that I remember watching on TV (age 8).”

Baseball Inspirations: “I like all the guys that could hit. And when I really started following the Major Leagues, Stan Musial was one of my guys, with the crouching stance, National League batting champion. I always liked Musial better than I liked Ted Williams.”

Nicknames: “Mine was Whitey, always in the minors. But never in the Majors, not too many guys called me that, that didn’t know me from my minor league career.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “One of the greatest moments – there’s many – but probably one of the first was coming into the Yankee clubhouse for the first time and seeing Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Bobby Richardson, guys that I saw when I was in Little League and never dreamed that I’d be in the same locker room with them.”

Most Painful Moment: “Most painful – really came as a coach, 2004. Being up three-nothing against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, and then getting swept the last four games. Not going to the World Series. So that was the most painful for me. To have to watch that and not be able to do anything about it.”

Favorite Uniforms: “Well, when I was a kid, I liked the Cincinnati Reds and I liked the Cleveland Indians.”

Favorite Ballpark: “Was Fenway Park in Boston. (Why?) Green Monster out there. It was so intimidating and in close. And it felt like you always had a shot when you went to the plate.”

Most Memorable Hit: “Was a home run in the bottom of the ninth that tied the game against the Boston Red Sox (Bill Campbell) in 1977. And we swept them after that. That particular home run – we were down 5-3, bottom of the ninth, two outs, one on. Then I hit the game-tying home run and we won in 11 innings. Swept the Red Sox in that series. And it turned the season around.”

Closest Baseball Friends: “Willie Randolph, Chris Chambliss, Mickey Rivers.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “Mickey Rivers, Sparky Lyle, Lou Piniella [laughs].”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “We had a bunch of ‘em. Thurman Munson would be at the top of the list. But everybody that we had on the ‘77-78 teams were very tough competitors. Graig Nettles, Willie, Sparky Lyle, Gossage, Ron Guidry, Chris Chambliss. I mean, you name it, it was just a tough club.”

Funny Baseball Memory: “We’re at Yankee Stadium. I don’t remember who it was against. Ground ball to shortstop. They threw to first and it was out. So I turned my back and was walking back to my position in left. Because I’d come in when the ball was hit on the ground. And all the sudden Gene Michael yells at me, screaming out my name, ROY! And then there was a ball rolling in left field. So all of a sudden, I thought something had happened and the guy was safe. And I started to run to get the ball. And the guys in the bullpen – I think it was the Orioles – saw that and started yelling – SECOND BASE! SECOND BASE! I took about two steps, then I caught myself. Nol this is wrong! That didn’t happen. So I just trotted in and picked up the ball and threw it back into Michael. Then when I got back to the dugout I said, Don’t ever yell my name like that! I thought the ball was still in play [laughs]!”

Strangest Game: “Probably in 1971 against the Washington Senators. The last game to be played in DC Stadium in Washington. That game ended by forfeit. Because the fans ran onto the field, I think in the eighth inning or something, and stole the bases and everything. And the game was forfeited. I’ve never been in a game like that [laughs].”

Embarrassing Baseball Memory: “Plenty of those. I think my rookie year I had a very embarrassing moment. I was on second base, Joe Pepitone was the hitter. We’re in Yankee Stadium playing the Detroit Tigers. He hit a line drive to centerfield and I took off second, rounded third, came in to score. And was waiting for guys to shake my hand. And I saw everybody grabbing their gloves and going to the outfield. I said, What happened? They said Mickey Stanley came in and made a shoestring catch and you got doubled up [laughs]. So that was pretty embarrassing.”

Favorite Sports Outside Baseball: “I like pro football. And tennis.”

Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Back in the day in football, Johnny Unitas was one of my favorites, when he was quarterback for the Baltimore Colts. I was really kind of a Packers fan though, with Bart Starr as their quarterback and Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Max McGee. In baseball I was a Cincinnati Reds fan because of the uniforms. And they could always hit, they had Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson and guys like that back then. In tennis – I was a McEnroe guy.”

Last Book Read: “Was actually the Derek Jeter book – Captain.”

First Job: “Was actually building trailer trucks, we had to do the van part, doing all the riveting stuff, put ‘em together. Actually, I was playing ball then, that was my off-season job [laughs].”

Favorite Meal: “Many. I guess I was always a steak and potatoes guy.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Vanilla.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Just honesty and integrity.”

Career Accomplishments: Two-time World Series champion (1977, 1978) and two-time All-Star (1969, 1970); Career batting average of .271 with 160 home runs and 1,803 hits; Played three seasons for Tokyo Giants (1980-82).

About Mark Malinowski

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