Team: Boston Red Stockings, 1871-1875; Boston Red Caps, 1876-1877
Manager: Boston Red Stockings, 1871-1875; Boston Red Caps 1876-1881; Providence Grays, 1882-1883; Philadelphia Quakers, 1884-1893
Managerial Record: 1,000-825
Harry Wright's 18-year manager career
introduced many rituals to baseball.
Harry Wright was a good player in his heyday but certainly never in the class of his younger brother George. When Harry was selected for the Hall of Fame in 1953, it was largely for his contributions as a baseball pioneer and innovator.
A case can be made, though, that he is worthy of inclusion for his managerial record as well. Wright managed baseball’s first all-professional team, the undefeated 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, and later won four championships in the National Association and two in the National League while serving at the helm of the Boston Red Caps.
Born in Sheffield, England, William Henry Wright (1835-1895) was the son of a professional cricket player; hence his sport of choice was cricket after the family emigrated to New York. When baseball became the new rage in the 1850s, he joined the amateur Knickerbockers club as an outfielder while continuing to make his living in the jewelry trade.
In 1865, Harry took a position as an instructor at the Union Cricket Club in Cincinnati. The following year, he organized the Cincinnati Red Stockings Base Ball team and soon found himself devoting all his energy to the diamond sport.
In his desire to put his newly formed team on the map, Wright recruited the finest baseball players in the country, beginning with his brother George. The result was that from 1869 to 1870, the Red Stockings won a record 130 consecutive games before losing a violently disputed extra-inning contest to the Brooklyn Atlantics.
Soon thereafter, the Red Stockings disbanded and Harry moved on to help form the National Association, the first professional league. Taking the reins of the Boston entry, he lost the 1871 flag to Philadelphia but then proceeded to sweep four straight pennants before the loop folded in 1875 due to competitive imbalance, player drunkenness, and rumors of fixed games.
Harry was nearly through as a player in 1876 when the National League began in the stead of the National Association, but he managed for 18 more seasons, first with Boston, then with Providence and Philadelphia. He introduced many elements that have become integral parts of baseball, such as having his teams take pregame batting practice and fungo-ing fly balls to outfielders before a game.
Following the 1893 season, his vision failing, Harry retired as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and became chief of umpires. After serving for two years in the newly created post, Wright died in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 3, 1895.
Here are Harry Wright's major league totals:
|BA||G ||AB ||R ||H |
|.261||181 ||858 ||182 ||224 |
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