This is part of a series highlighting this year’s class of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. The 13-member class will be inducted Nov. 7. Tickets are available at GBSHOF.com.
Professional baseball in the United States blossomed in the 1860s. In the early 1870s, a pair of brothers from Caton, a tiny town just north of the state line with Pennsylvania, became professional baseball players.
The paths of James and Will White ultimately brought them to the Buffalo Bisons, and kept them in here. Now the White brothers are two of five posthumous inductees into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
James “Deacon” White was known as one of the best catchers during what was known as the barehanded era of baseball, when players didn’t use gloves to field the ball. He played for Cleveland, Boston, Chicago and Cincinnati, and caught more games than any other player during the 1870s. He also played for five championship teams, three in the National Association and two in the National League, and signed with the Buffalo Bisons in 1881 as a third baseman. He hit .301 in 1,994 at-bats in 463 games with the Bisons.
James White was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, as voted by the Veterans Committee.
Will White, James’ younger brother, was a pitcher who earned 30 wins in 52 complete games in 1878 for the Cincinnati Reds. The next season, he completed all 75 games he started and finished 43-31 with a 1.99 earned run average. With the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association in 1882, Will White went 40-23 with an earned run average of 1.54 and led the league in wins, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. He joined the Bisons in 1890.
Will White founded the Christ Mission in Buffalo, and is the answer to a baseball trivia question: he was the first major league baseball player to wear eyeglasses during a game. So, it should come as no surprise that the White brothers founded the Buffalo Optical Company.
Adam Beattie Gunn: Gunn was an accomplished athlete who emigrated from Scotland in the 1890s, and became a U.S. citizen in 1899. He became known as one of the top athletes in Buffalo of his generation.
Gunn won the Amateur Athletic Union’s U.S. All-Around championship – the predecessor of the decathlon – at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 in Buffalo, and won the 1902 championship in New York. Two years later, he finished second and earned the silver medal in the All-Rounder (100-yard run, shot put, high jump, 880 walk, hammer throw, pole vault, 120 hurdles, 56-pound weight throw, long jump and mile run) in the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis.
Gunn worked for Buffalo General Electric Company and became an athletic official in Western New York.
Ed “Bud” Hughes: Hughes coached professional football for 30 years, and was a standout in football, track and baseball at Kensington High School in the 1940s.
Hughes was a two-way player on the University of Tulsa football team and played for two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and three seasons with the New York Giants as a defensive back. He went into coaching in 1959 as an assistant at Tulsa.
Hughes was an assistant coach in the American Football League and the NFL from 1960 to 1989, including a stint as head coach of the Houston Oilers in 1971. He helped two teams win championships. Hughes coached defensive backs for the Dallas Texans when they won the AFL title in 1962. He joined the Chicago Bears as the team’s offensive coordinator in 1982 and helped the Bears win the Super Bowl in 1986.
Hughes died in 2000 at the age of 72.
Peggy Wattles Pulleyn: Pulleyn won her first golf tournament when she was 11 years old, and went on to become one of New York’s top amateur golfers in the 1920 and 1930s, twice reaching the quarterfinals of the United States Women’s National Golf Tournament.
Pulleyn won back-to-back Western New York Golf Association championships when she was 16 and 17 years old. She went on to win six more titles from 1926 to 1932, only missing the 1930 tournament to be a bridesmaid in a wedding. She also competed in multiple international tournaments, finishing second in the 1936 British Colonial women’s tournament, the Princess Hotel Invitational and the Belmont Manor tournament in 1938 in Bermuda.
But her biggest accomplishment came outside of golf. Pulleyn and her daughter opened the Princeton Child Development Institute in 1970, after her family learned that her grandson was autistic and sought adequate care for him. The New York Times wrote in her obituary in 1996 that the Princeton Child Development Institute “has grown into a nationally recognized center that has served as a model elsewhere in the country. Its science-based program, backed by research and staff training, was recognized by the federal government in 1983 when it cited the Institute as one of 60 exemplary private schools in the country.”