Born: February 8, 1920
Died: April 5, 1987
James Joseph William White was born February 8, 1920 in Edgewater. Jim got an early start in football playing for the Holy Name Club in his home town. By the time he was a 9th grader, he stood 6’2” and weight 195 pounds. Jim attended All Hallows High School in the Bronx, a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. He was an All-Metropolitan end for coach Jack Lavelle, a former Notre Dame player and part-time scout for the New York Giants. He played almost every position on the field, but mostly on the line. He also handles All Hallows’ punting and placekicking duties.
Jim also competed as a weightlifter and a member of the track team. Though he weighed well over 200 pounds, he was a star quarter-miler and also set a national record in the 12-pound shot put with a distance of 56 feet in 1940. In all, Jim earned four letters each in football, basketball and track at All Hallows. He was also an ace handball player. Jim’s dream was to become a football coach and he took an important step in that direction when he was offered a scholarship to Notre Dame.
Jim became a varsity starter in 1942 and played tackle on both sides of the ball. He pretty much demanded a double-team on every play on defense. He overwhelmed blockers and clogged the left side, forcing Irish opponents to alter the game plans. Sportswriters dubbed him the Irish Bone Crusher. The 1942 team went 7–2–2 and was ranked #6 in the nation. During a 13–0 victory over USC, during which both teams were constantly being flagged for penalties, Jim was ejected after taking off his helmet, handing it to a referee and say, “Here, you wear this. You’re playing more football than I am.”
The 1943 Irish went 9–1 and were recognized as the national champion. The signature play of Jim’s career came in the game that November against Army ay Yankee Stadium. The Irish were clinging to a 6–0 lead and had the Cadets pinned dep in their own end. Army punted on fourth down and Jim burst through the line just a second too late. He was unable to block the kick but slammed into the punter, giving Army an automatic first down. Jim made up for it by breaking up a pitchout to future Heisman winner Glenn Davis by stealing the ball out of his arms and setting up another touchdown. Later Jim admitted that Davis had tipped the play, giving Ji a running start. Notre Dame went on to win the game, 26–0. Jim was a consensus All-American along with linemate Pat Filley and backs Creighton Miller and Angelo Bertelli, who won the Heisman Trophy. Jim finished 9th in the Heisman voting.
Jim was a member of Notre Dame’s V-12 naval training program. He went into the service right after the 1943 season—just in time to suit up for the Honolulu Naval Air Station team. During the war, Jim crossed the Atlantic three times as an armed guard on merchant vessels and also served on several ships in the Pacific. After the war, he finished up his degree at Notre Dame, earned a graduate degree at Columbia and signed to play for the Giants.
Jim made the starting lineup in 1946 and earned All-Pro recognition his rookie year. His play on the line was a big reason the team won the East with a 7–3–1 record and made it to the NFL title game against the Bears. The day before the game, star running back Merle Hapes was suspended for not reporting a bribe attempt to the league. The rattled Giants lost on their home field, 24–14.
A training camp injury limited Jim’s effectiveness in 1947, but he was healthy enough to defend his wife’s honor when they attended a carnival in Lodi that September. Four roustabouts made lude remarks to Marion (a former model) and he and teammate Jim Tobin got into a slugging match. Jim came out of the battle okay, but Tobin required 40 stitches to close a gash suffered during the fight. Jim still earned All-Pro recognition at season’s end and intercepted his one and only pass as a pro.
Jim put his Physical Education degree to work and earned a few extra dollars coaching the linemen at Wagner College in Staten Island for future Giants coach Jim Lee Howell. Jim ran a restaurant in the off-season and lived in Edgewater year-round. In 1949, Jim was named one of the Giants’ team captains. He filled that role again in 1950 as the Giants improved from 6–6 to 10–2, tying the Browns atop the American Division. They lost the postseason play-in game in Cleveland 8–3.
That would turn out to be Jim’s final game as a pro. After leaving the NFL, he went to work for O’Brien Shipyards in Staten Island and stayed in shape playing handball. He moved to Dumont with his wife and three kids and when his son, Jim Jr., began Little League in 1960, he was tabbed as the team’s coach. Jim passed away 1987 at the age of 67.