Teams: Cincinnati Red Stockings, 1869-1870; Boston Red Stockings, 1871-1875; Boston Red Caps, 1876-1878; 1880-1881; Providence Grays, 1879; 1882
Manager: Providence Grays, 1879
Managerial record: 85-59
The star shortstop of the legendary Cincinnati Red Stockings team that went undefeated for the entire 1869 season, George Wright was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937 for his contributions as both a player and a baseball pioneer. When his brother Harry, a lesser athlete but a more influential trailblazer, joined him in Cooperstown 16 years later, the Wrights became the first pair of siblings to be enshrined.
Known as the first “King of Shortstops" -- considered to be the key position on the diamond even in the 1860s -- George Wright (1847-1937) was without an equal as both a hitter and a fielder. Thus, he was also the highest- paid performer. So talented was George that wherever he went, championships almost always followed.
After the Cincinnati Red Stockings disbanded following the 1870 season, the Wright brothers signed with Boston in the fledgling National Association. After Philadelphia captured the initial NA flag by dint of several forfeit wins, the Wrights took charge and led Boston to four straight pennants.
In his five seasons in the National Association, George consistently ranked among the loop’s top hitters and had no peer as a playmaker. When the league folded after the 1875 season, Wright remained in Boston along with his brother to play for the Red Caps in the newly formed National League. On April 22, 1876, George became the first batter in NL history when he led off the inaugural game at Philadelphia by grounding out to short.
Boston finished fourth in the first National League season but then copped two straight pennants. Wright jumped the club following the Red Caps’ second triumph to become player-manager of the Providence Grays. In his one and only season as a major-league skipper, George brought the Grays home first ahead of brother Harry’s Red Caps.
Although only age 32, Wright never again played regularly after the 1879 season. Unlike most aging shortstops, his fielding skills were not what deserted him. Beginning in 1876, with more and more pitchers learning how to throw curveballs, Wright’s batting deteriorated alarmingly. In 1878, his final full year with Boston, he hit .225. Four years later, when he attempted to make a comeback, he was forced to abandon the notion after hitting just .162 in 46 games.
In 1884, George was one of the backers of the Union Association (a short-lived third major league), buying the Boston Reds franchise. The league collapsed after just one season, but Wright continued his affiliation with the game until his death at age 90 in Boston in 1937.
Here are George Wright's major league totals:
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