J. W. Porter
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Oakland Technical High School
- Debut July 30, 1952
- Final Game September 27, 1959
- Born January 17, 1933 in Shawnee, OK USA
- Died October 11, 2020 in Jupiter, FL USA
Originally signed by the Chicago White Sox and heralded as a future star, long, lanky, freckled-faced J.W. Porter broke into the majors with the St. Louis Browns at the tender age of 19 in 1952. Primarily a catcher/first-baseman, he never established himself as a starter during his short career. Traded to the Detroit Tigers in a six-player trade in late 1952, Porter was regarded as a key acquisition in in the Tigers' fledgling youth movement, which would eventually include Al Kaline and Reno Bertoia. Unfortunately, he missed the 1953 and 1954 seasons due to military service, finally joining the team in 1955.
The Browns had earlier acquired Porter from the White Sox in July, 1952, when Porter was on the road in Lincoln, NE. His 18-year-old wife was at their home in Colorado Springs, CO but did not drive, so Browns owner Bill Veeck made arrangements for her father to be flown in from Oakland, CA to drive her to St. Louis. Father and daughter were killed in a head-on collision en route and it fell to Veeck to inform Porter. Veeck and his wife Mary Frances invited Porter to move in with them (they were living at Sportsman's Park at the time).
After his playing career, Porter served as a minor league manager, including with the GCL Expos in 1969 and the West Palm Beach Expos in 1970, for whom he had a combined winning percentage of .604 (110-72). Porter also managed the Montreal Expos' entry in the 1969 Florida Instructional League. Porter's hitting coach in West Palm Beach was Larry Doby. They were among the first interracial roommates in baseball and spent some nights talking about Bill Veeck, with whom they both became good friends (Veeck would give Doby his only opportunity to manage in the majors with the White Sox in 1978). In later life, he worked as an usher at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL, keeping up a life-long connection with baseball. He was a familiar and very popular figure there, walking with the assistance of a cane fashioned from baseball bats and regaling spectators with countless stories.
Porter attended the annual Browns alumni/fan club festivities in St. Louis on a regular basis, along with former Tigers and Brownies teammate Ned Garver. He was one the last eight living members of the team and attended a virtual meeting of the Browns historical society only a few days before his passing at age 87 in 2020. Once a Brownie, always a Brownie!
- Joe Capozzi: "J.W. Porter: 'Court jester of Roger Dean Stadium' mourned as 'a sweet soul'", The Palm Beach Post, October 13, 2020.