There are a number of men who can lay claim to the title of “The Father of Baseball.” Harry Wright is certainly one of them. Born in England in 1835, the son of a cricket player, it was when he started to watch the baseball teams that played on the Elysian Fields of Hoboken, New Jersey that he found his true calling. After spending time playing for the New York Knickerbockers and Gothams, he briefly left baseball to pursue cricket in Ohio. Recognizing the opportunity that existed during this nascent stage of baseball’s development, he returned to the sport and organized the first professional baseball team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. They would win all seventy games they played that season. When the team folded, Wright would move to Boston and became the manager of the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association, where his team would dominate the league from 1872 until 1875 when the NA folded. With the birth of the National League in 1876, Wright created a whole new Boston Red Stockings where he would win two more pennants in 1877 and 1878. He would never again lead a team to the title, spending two seasons with the Providence Grays in 1882 and 1883 before finishing his career managing the Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies until 1893. He ended his career as the National League Chief of Umpires before dying from a lung disease at age sixty. His contributions towards making the game an honest, viable profession cannot be understated.
Wright’s impressive grave was financed by the National League gate receipts that were generated on “Harry Wright Day,” May 13, 1896.
September 10, 2010
Bala Cynwyd, PA