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Harry Bright

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Harry James Bright

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Before the 1946 season, Harry Bright was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. He was just 16 years old when he began his long career in pro ball. Harry was originally a catcher who also could play just about every position on the field.

He hit a league-leading .413 with the Clovis Pioneers in the West Texas-New Mexico League in 1950]and two years later, at age 22, was a player-manager for the Janesville Cubs in the Wisconsin State League. His team finished seventh (54-66) but Bright had a league-leading 101 RBI.

He moved up through the minor leagues settling in with the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League. After starting the season by hitting .309 in 1958, Bright was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates in July and finally got his first taste of the big leagues at age 28 after 12 years in the minors. He spent the final two months of the 1958 season with the Pirates as a back-up third baseman, starting 5 games and going 6 for 24 (.250) with 1 HR and 3 RBIs. Bright remained with the Pirates for the entire 1959 season. But he was basically a pinch-hitter, starting only 3 games and appearing in the field in only 8 games. 1960 saw Bright back in AAA with the Pirates' Salt Lake City Bees affiliate. He dominated AAA pitching, hitting 27 HRs with 119 RBIs and batting .313 while splitting his time between shortstop and third base. With the Pirates in a pennant race, Bright earned a September call-up as a pinch hitter within weeks of his 31st birthday. Although the Pirates won the National League pennant and went to the World Series, Bright was not on their post-season roster.

After the 1960 season, the Pirates traded Bright to the expansion Washington Senators. He spent the 1961 season with the Senators as a utility player starting 45 games at third base 6 at catcher. In 1962, at age 32 and in his 16th professional season, Bright finally got his chance to start. He began the season on the Senators' bench but soon took over as the regular first baseman. He tied for the team lead with 17 home runs and was second on the team in RBIs with 67. He batted .273 in 392 at-bats.

The Senators traded Bright to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1962 season. In April 1963, the Reds sold his contract to the New York Yankees. The 1963 Yankees were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Bright was a back-up at first base and third base. He hit .236 with 7 HRs and 23 RBIs at age 33. He was hitless in two World Series pinch-hitting attempts. Bright remarked, "After all those years in baseball, I make it into a World Series game and the whole country was pulling for me to strike out." In the 9th inning of the Series' opening game, Sandy Koufax fanned him for his 15th K of the game to establish a World Series single-game record.

Bright had persevered for 17 years and finally established himself with three consecutive full seasons as a major leaguer, including an appearance in the World Series as a Yankee. But it was back to the minors in 1964, with the Richmond Virginians of the International League. He finished his major league career as a pinch-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 1965 until being released in mid-season. He returned to the minors in 1965 and 1966. And in 1967, at age 37, he became a minor league manager.

Bright spent 8 seasons in the major leagues (1958-1965) and built a .255 career batting average with 32 home runs and 126 RBIs. From 1946 through 1976, he was either an active player or manager for 30 seasons, missing only 1948, when records show he was out of baseball. He was back in 1985 for one season as manager of the class A Durham Bulls. Rather than retire, Bright remained in the game and for several years was a West Coast scout for the Montreal Expos prior to his death on March 13, 2000, at age 70 in Sacramento, CA.

[edit] Year-by-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1952 Wisconsin State League Janesville Cubs 54-66 7th Chicago Cubs none
1967 Quincy Cubs Midwest League 58-63 6th Chicago Cubs
1968 San Antonio Missions Texas League 53-86 8th Chicago Cubs
1969 Elmira Pioneers Eastern League 70-71 3rd Kansas City Royals /
San Diego Padres
Cancelled
1970 North Bend-Coos Bay Athletics Northwest League 45-35 1st Oakland A's none League Champs
1971 Burlington (IA) Bees Midwest League 71-50 2nd Oakland A's
1972 Burlington (IA) Bees Midwest League 65-63 6th Oakland A's
1973 Birmingham A's Southern League 50-88 8th Oakland A's
1974 Birmingham A's Southern League 54-81 8th Oakland A's
1975 Sacramento Solons Pacific Coast League 59-85 8th Milwaukee Brewers
1976 Tucson Toros Pacific Coast League 39-68 -- Oakland A's replaced by Lee Stange (15-20)
1985 Durham Bulls Carolina League 66-74 5th Atlanta Braves

[edit] Sources

Baseball-Reference.com
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

[edit] Further Reading

  • Charles Faber: "Harry Bright", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 13-15. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

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