(Redirected from Johnny Wright)
Note: This page discusses Negro League and minor league pitcher John Wright. For the Swedish pitcher of the same name, click here.
John Richard Wright
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 172 lb.
Pitcher John Wright is best known for his role in the integration of organized baseball. On October 30, 1945, he was signed to a minor league contract by the Brooklyn Dodgers alongside Jackie Robinson. They were the first two black players to be signed by a Major League team in the 20th Century. However, unlike the great Robinson, Wright failed to reach the major leagues.
Wright was already 29 when he was signed. He was a veteran of the Negro Leagues and actually played in an East-West Game . However, he was signed to ensure that Robinson would not be the lone black player in the Dodgers' organization, not because he was a prospect. His main job was to room with Robinson in spring training and help him in dealing with the pressure of being a black man in a white universe. The fact that Wright was older was a plus there. Like Robinson, he began the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals of the International League, but he was sent down after two games. The Dodgers had set up what was in effect a farm team for the Royals that season, the Trois-Rivières Royals of the Can-Am League, which were also based in the province of Quebec, where hostility against black players was almost nonexistent. That's where Wright was sent, and had a very good year. He went 12-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 32 games there. Like Robinson in Montreal, he was well accepted by the local fans and treated as a star.
When Wright was sent down to Trois-Rivières, the Dodgers signed another black pitcher to be Robinson's roommate in Montreal, Roy Partlow. Partlow stayed a month in Montreal, before being sent down himself to Trois-Rivières where, like Wright, he was quite successful. By then, Robinson was being treated like a superstar in Montreal as he was one of the International League's best players.
In spite of his solid results, Wright did not come back to play in 1947. He decided to return to the Negro Leagues and played some more years there before retiring. Still, his role as a pioneer of integration is significant.