|Born:January 10, 1835|
|Died: October 3, 1895 60) (aged|
Atlantic City, New Jersey
|May 5, 1871, for the Boston Red Stockings|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1877, for the Boston Red Caps|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
William Henry "Harry" Wright (January 10, 1835 – October 3, 1895) was an English-born American professional baseball player, manager, and developer. He assembled, managed, and played center field for baseball's first fully professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. He is credited with introducing innovations such as backing up infield plays from the outfield and shifting defensive alignments based on hitters' tendencies. For his contributions as a manager and developer of the game, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 by the Veterans Committee. Wright was also the first to make baseball into a business by paying his players up to seven times the pay of the average working man.
Born in Sheffield, England, he was the eldest of five children of professional cricketer Samuel Wright and his wife, Annie Tone Wright.His family emigrated to the U.S. when he was nearly three years old, and his father found work as a bowler, coach, and groundskeeper at the St George's Cricket Club in New York. Harry dropped out of school at age 14 to work for a jewelry manufacturer, and worked at Tiffany's for several years.
Both Harry and George, 12 years younger, assisted their father, effectively apprenticing as cricket "club pros". Harry played against the first English cricket team to tour overseas in 1859.
Both brothers played baseball for some of the leading clubs during the amateur era of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP). Harry was already 22 when the baseball fraternity convened for the first time in 1857, at which time he joined the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. He did not play in a game with the Knickerbockers until July 8, 1858, playing the outfield against Excelsior of Brooklyn. The Knickerbockers lost the game, 31–13.
In 1863, the Knickerbocker club all but withdrew from official competition, and Wright joined Gotham of New York, primarily playing shortstop.Here, he joined his brother George, who had become a member of the team the previous year. During the winter of 1864/65, the Wrights played the curious game of "ice base ball".
Wright left New York on March 8, 1865, bound for Cincinnati, where he had been hired on salary at the Union Cricket Club.When baseball boomed less than a year later in 1866, the first full peacetime season, he became, in effect, club pro at the Cincinnati Base Ball Club, although he is commonly called simply a baseball "manager" from that time. By now, Wright was 31, probably past his athletic prime.
Cincinnati fielded a strong regional club in 1867. With Wright working as the regular pitcher, and still a superior player at that level, the team won 16 matches and lost only to the Nationals of Washington, D.C. on their historic tour. For 1868 he added four players from the East and one from the crosstown Buckeye club, a vanquished rival. The easterners, at least, must have been compensated by club members if not by the club.
When the NABBP permitted professionalism for 1869, Harry augmented his 1868 imports (retaining four of five) with five new men, including three more originally from the East. No one but Harry Wright himself remained from 1867; one local man and one other westerner joined seven easterners on the famous First Nine. The most important of the new men was brother George, probably the best player in the game for a few years, the highest paid man in Cincinnati at $1400 for nine months. George at shortstop remained a cornerstone of Harry's teams for ten seasons.
The Red Stockings toured the continent undefeated in 1869 and may have been the strongest team in 1870, but the club dropped professional base ball after the second season, its fourth in the game. As it turned out, the Association also passed from the scene.
During this early era, the rules of the sport for many years prohibited substitution during games except by mutual agreement with opponents, and the role of a team manager was not as specifically geared toward game strategy as in the modern era; instead, managers of the period combined the role of a field manager with that of a modern general manager in that they were primarily responsible for signing talented players and forming a versatile roster, as well as establishing a team approach through practice and game fundamentals.
In 1869 Wright became the first to make written mention of the Seventh-inning stretch in a game he watched.
From an invitation in 1870 by Ivers Whitney Adams, the founder and President of the Boston Red Stockings, Wright moved from managing the "Cincinnati Red Stockings" to work professionally with the first-ever base ball team in Boston, the "Boston Red Stockings". The team was to play in the newly formed National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, now known more often as simply the National Association.
The Red Stockings finished third in the NA's inaugural season. Wright, now 36 years old and the second-oldest player in the league, was the team's regular center fielder, playing 30 of the team's 31 games at that position.He also pitched in nine games in relief of Albert Spalding, notching one win.
In 1872, the Red Stockings won its first championship, beating Maryland's Lord Baltimore Club by 7½ games. They won again the next season, finishing four games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics.
1874 turned out to be Wright's last year as the team's regular center fielder. He had been the oldest player in the NA for three years running. It was also his third straight championship as a manager. That year, he organized what turned out to be a fairly disastrous attempt to take baseball back home to the British Isles.
In 1875, the final year of the NA, the Red Stockings were an amazing 71-8, finishing a full 15 games ahead of the Athletics. Wright, now the oldest player in the league, continued to play regularly in center field for Boston until 1874. After that, he played in just three more games, one in each of the next three seasons.
In 1876, the Boston club joined the new National League. Sportswriters tended to refer to them as the "Red Caps" now, in deference to the resurrected Red Stockings name for the new Cincinnati Club.Although they once again stumbled in their first year in a new league, finishing fourth in 1876, they went on to win two more pennants in the following two seasons with Wright at the helm. The team finished second in 1879, but then slipped badly, finishing sixth in the next two seasons, which wound up being Wright's last two seasons in Boston.
After leaving the Red Caps, Wright quickly picked up with the Providence Grays, one of the stronger NL teams of the era. In 1882, his first season as Grays manager, the team finished in second place, just three games behind the powerful Chicago White Stockings led by Cap Anson. The team dropped to third the following year, and Wright moved on again.
While in Providence, Wright instituted the concept of a farm team. Wright assembled a team of amateurs, which would play at Messer Street Grounds while the Grays were on the road, with the intention that if one of the senior members was injured, he could be easily replaced from among these players.
In 1884, Wright was brought in to manage the new Philadelphia team. Philadelphia had joined the National League the previous year, finishing dead last with an abysmal record of 17-81. Under Wright, they improved enough to finish in sixth place in 1884 while winning 20 games more than they had done the previous year. In 1885, the team finished above .500 for the first time, going 56-54 and finishing in third place, a distant 30 games behind the White Stockings and 28 games behind second-place New York Giants.
Philadelphia continued to improve under Wright in 1886, finishing with a record of 71-43, although their position in the league fell to fourth. In 1887, the team finished in second place, just 3½ games behind the champion Detroit club. Unfortunately, that was to be the high-water mark of Wright's tenure in Philadelphia, as the team hovered in the middle of the pack, finishing between third and fifth every year from 1888 until 1893 (although he missed a large portion of the 1890 season due to problems with his eyesight ).
During Wright's tenure in Philadelphia, he often clashed with team owners Al Reach and Colonel John I. Rogers. After the 1893 season, his contract was not renewed. The National League, in recognition of Wright's standing, offered him the position of Chief of Umpires. During his career, Wright had often served as umpire, even for games involving rival teams, due to his high ethical standards.
In 23 seasons of managing in the National Association and National League, Wright's teams won six league championships (1872–75, 1877, 1878). They finished second on three other occasions, and never finished lower than sixth. Wright finished his managerial career with 1225 wins and 885 losses for a .581 winning percentage.
|Games||Won||Lost||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|BOS||1871||31||20||10||.667||3rd in NA||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1872||48||39||8||.830||1st in NA||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1873||60||43||16||.729||1st in NA||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1874||71||52||18||.743||1st in NA||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1875||82||71||8||.899||1st in NA||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1876||70||39||31||.557||4th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1877||61||42||18||.700||1st in NL||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1878||60||41||19||.683||1st in NL||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1879||84||54||30||.643||2nd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1880||86||40||44||.476||6th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|BOS||1881||83||38||45||.458||6th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PRO||1882||84||52||32||.619||2nd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PRO||1883||98||58||40||.592||3rd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1884||113||39||73||.348||6th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1885||111||56||54||.509||3rd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1886||119||71||43||.623||4th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1887||128||75||48||.610||2nd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1888||132||69||61||.531||3rd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1889||130||63||64||.496||4th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1890||68||36||31||.537||3rd in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1891||138||68||69||.496||4th in NL||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1892||77||46||30||.605||3rd in NL||-||-||-||-|
|78||41||36||.532||5th in NL||-||-||-||-|
|PHI||1893||133||72||57||.558||4th in NL||–||–||–||–|
Wright died of a lung ailment on October 3, 1895 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Wright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2005. His brother George is also a member of both Halls; a third brother, Sam, also played professionally.
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or known simply as the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several professional clubs from the previous National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) of 1857–1870, sometimes called "the amateur association"; in turn several of its clubs created the succeeding National League of Professional Baseball Clubs in 1876. Later shortened to the National League, it joined with the American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1901 to form Major League Baseball (MLB).
The Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 were baseball's first openly all-professional team, with ten salaried players. The Cincinnati Base Ball Club formed in 1866 and fielded competitive teams in the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) 1867–1870, a time of a transition that ambitious Cincinnati, Ohio businessmen and English-born ballplayer Harry Wright shaped as much as anyone. Major League Baseball recognized those events officially by sponsoring a centennial of professional baseball in 1969.
George Wright was an American shortstop in professional baseball. He played for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first fully professional team, when he was the game's best player. He then played for the Boston Red Stockings, helping the team win six league championships from 1871 to 1878. His older brother Harry Wright managed both Red Stockings teams and made George his cornerstone. George was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. After arriving in Boston, he also entered the sporting goods business. There he continued in the industry, assisting in the development of golf.
Douglas L. Allison was an American professional baseball player. He played as a catcher for the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first fully professional baseball team. Allison was one of the first catchers to stand directly behind the batter, as a means to prevent baserunners from stealing bases. He was considered a specialist, at a time when some of the better batsmen who manned the position normally rested, or substituted at other fielding positions. Allison was the earliest known player to have used a glove, when he donned buckskin mittens to protect his hands in 1870.
Calvin Alexander McVey was an American professional baseball player during the 1860s and 1870s. McVey's importance to the game stems from his play on two of the earliest professional baseball teams, the original Cincinnati Red Stockings and the National Association Boston Red Stockings. He also played on the inaugural National League pennant-winning team, the 1876 Chicago White Stockings.
The Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia was a prominent National Association, and later National League, professional baseball team that played in the second half of the 19th century.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1881 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1879 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1875 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1871 throughout the world.
Asahel "Asa" Brainard, nicknamed "Count", was the ace pitcher of the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first fully professional baseball team, after having pitched for the Excelsior club of Brooklyn, New York.
The Olympic Club of Washington, D.C., or Washington Olympics in modern nomenclature, was an early professional baseball team.
Andrew Jackson Leonard was a professional baseball player of the 19th century, who played outfield and was also a utility infielder. He played left field for the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first fully professional baseball team. He was one of five men to play regularly for both the Cincinnati and the Boston Red Stockings, the latter winning six championships during his seven seasons. He played several infield positions on lesser teams in his early twenties but left field was his regular professional position.
Charles James Sweasy, born Swasey, played second base for the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first fully professional baseball team. He returned to Cincinnati in 1876, hired by the new club that was a charter member of the National League. In the meantime he played for six teams during the five seasons of the National Association, so he may be considered one of the first "journeyman" ballplayers. A right-handed thrower and batter, he almost exclusively played second base.
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Charles Harvey Gould, nicknamed "The Bushel Basket", was an American Major League Baseball player during the 1860s and 1870s. He was the first baseman for the original Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 and 1870, the first team consisting entirely of professional players. He was the only native Cincinnatian on the club.
Robert Edward Addy, nicknamed "The Magnet", was an American right fielder and second baseman in Major League Baseball, whose professional career spanned from 1871 in the National Association to 1877 in the National League. He is credited as the first player to introduce the slide in an organized game, and later attempted to create a game of baseball that would have been played on ice. He is also credited as the first person born in Canada to appear in a major league game.
The Cincinnati Reds, a Major League Baseball team, were originally members of the American Association from 1882 to 1889; the team has played in the National League ever since, being one of only five 19th-century teams still playing in its original city.
The Lincoln Park Grounds, commonly known as Union Grounds, was a former baseball park, part of Lincoln Park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Grounds were built for the Union Cricket Club in 1856; they "were used for cricket and baseball in the summer and were flooded for skating in the winter." In 1865 Harry Wright became the professional of the Cincinnati Cricket Club, which also used the grounds, and the next year Aaron Champion, president of the new Cincinnati Base Ball Club, "approached Wright to propose a limited use of the grounds if the CBBC and Live Oaks club would put in $2000 each to revamp the Lincoln Park Grounds."
A year later the [Red Stockings] leased the grounds of the Union Cricket Club for its home tilts. Most club members referred to the field as the Union Grounds, although it also was known as the Union Cricket Club Grounds and the Lincoln Park Grounds, given the fact that the eight-acre, fenced grounds were located in a small park behind Lincoln Park in Cincinnati, near the Union Terminal. It was a twenty-minute ride by streetcar to the Union Grounds from the heart of downtown Cincinnati. Aaron Champion ordered that approximately $10,000 worth of improvements be made to the home grounds for the 1867 season, including grading and sodding of the field and building of a new clubhouse and stands.
The St. Louis Cardinals, a professional baseball franchise based in St. Louis, Missouri, compete in the National League (NL) of Major League Baseball (MLB). As the game of baseball garnered interest in the United States in the 19th century, professional baseball in St. Louis became rooted chiefly in one disestablished Major League club – named the Brown Stockings, the same as the Cardinals' earliest name – which is loosely connected, but does not fall within the scope of, today's Cardinals. The Brown Stockings became St. Louis' first fully professional baseball club when they gained accession in the National Association (NA) in 1875. However, the NA folded after that season. That winter, with five other former NA teams, St. Louis established a new, eight-team league called the National League (NL) and began play the next season. Despite early success, Brown Stocking players were found to be connected to game fixing scandals, which forced bankruptcy and the club's expulsion from the NL. This scandal also abrogated their professional status but some members maintained play as a semi-professional team, primarily operated by outfielder Ned Cuthbert, until 1881.
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| Oldest recognized verified living baseball player |
May 5, 1871 – October 30, 1871