Thoughts on latest Sol White developments

Baseball researchers, including MLB official historian John Thorn and Jim Overmyer, have found a lead on possible descendants of Hall of Famer Sol White, who recently received a burial stone thanks to the efforts of the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project. Here is a link to Thorn’s blog post on the matter, and check out some info on the marker ceremony here and here.

These developments and efforts regarding White’s legacy and possible relatives are fascinating, revelatory and quite possibly groundbreaking. A couple things strike me about this …

One, I’d have to imagine that if any living descendants are found, chances are that, given the previously futile efforts to find any such people, those relatives would have no idea they’re related to one of the most important and influential figures in baseball history. The revelation that Sol White is in their lineage could very well blow them away.

Second, with my efforts focused on the discovery of what exactly happened to Sol White to land him in a Long Island psychiatric hospital until his death, I’m ecstatic on one level, because the latest research developments unearthed this — a burial record, which lists his cause of death, “pulmonary embolism”: 

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A pulmonary embolism is basically a blockage of an artery or arteries in the lung, most likely by a blood clot that has traveled from the legs to the lungs.

What strikes me is the fact that, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site, pulmonary embolisms are very treatable and even preventable if proper, swift efforts are undertaken. On one hand, that makes me wonder if Sol received shoddy treatment at Central Islip State Hospital that could have contributed to a possibly preventable death. For example, what if he had surgery at CISH that led to the clot or clots that killed him. But on the other hand, he was 80 years old, so such a cause of death isn’t really all that unusual for a guy his age, especially six decades ago.

Overall, though, while the uncovering of this burial record and immediate cause of death is certainly crucial, it doesn’t reveal why Sol was in a mental ward or what the contributing factors were to his pulmonary embolism. Those are details that are included only in a complete, unredacted death certificate, a copy of which has yet to be obtained by anyone.

The other way of procuring such facts is through the obtaining of medical records from the hospital at which a patient was treated and/or died. That’s something I’ve been trying to do with both Sol and Cannonball Dick Redding, who died at another New York state psychiatric facility and about whose fate is even less known. I aim to change that, and I’ll post an update to my quest over the next day or two …

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