Harry James Bright
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut July 25, 1958
- Final Game June 30, 1965
- Born September 22, 1929 in Kansas City, MO USA
- Died March 13, 2000 in Sacramento, CA USA
“It’s a hell of a thing... I wait 17 years to get into a World Series. Then when I finally get up there, and 69,000 people are yelling—yelling for me to strike out.” - Harry Bright, to Time magazine, October 11, 1963
Before the 1946 season, Harry Bright was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. He was just 16 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 hitting .309 in 1958, Bright was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates in July and finally got his first taste of the bigs, at 28, after 12 years in the minors. He spent the last two months of the season with the Pirates as a backup third baseman, starting 5 games and going 6 for 24 (.250) with a home run and 3 RBI. Bright remained with the Bucs for the entire 1959 season but was basically a pinch-hitter, starting only 3 games and appearing afield only 8 games. 1960 saw Bright back in AAA with the Pirates' Salt Lake City Bees affiliate. He dominated, hitting 27 bombs with 119 RBI 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 the postseason roster.
After the season, the Pirates traded Bright to the expansion Washington Senators. He spent the 1961 season in the bigs as a utility player, starting 45 games at third base plus 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 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 RBI with 67, batting .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 squad was swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Bright was a backup at first base and third base. He hit .236 with 7 homers and 23 RBI at age 33 and was hitless in two World Series pinch-hitting attempts. In the 9th inning of the Series' opening game, Sandy Koufax fanned him for his 15th strikeout 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 at midseason. 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 average with 32 home runs and 126 RBI. 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 70 in Sacramento.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|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
|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|
- 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