April 25, 1902: Rookie Gene Wright is backed by Zaza Harvey’s six hits as Cleveland dominates St. Louis

This article was written by Andrew Harner

Zaza Harvey (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)At the turn of the twentieth century, Bill Armour was putting together a minor-league dynasty in Dayton, Ohio.

Despite his roster’s best players getting pillaged by the major leagues year after year, Armour won three championships in five seasons with Dayton1 before being hired to manage the American League’s Cleveland Bronchos for the 1902 season.

Known as an expert talent evaluator, Armour had a process for developing unknown pitching prospects, and by becoming Cleveland’s manager, he twice got to enjoy the spoils of discovering Gene Wright, a 6-foot-2 native of Barberton, Ohio, near Akron.

“In my mind, the principal requisites for successful pitching are strength and size. Give me a big strong twirler with lots of speed, and nine times out of ten he will make good,” Armour said. “You know a minor league manager receives every year a bushel of applications from aspiring amateurs looking for a chance on a professional team. If the applicant is a pitcher, I write back asking about his weight and size. If he is a big fellow, I tell him to come and I give him a trial. In this way I picked up [Earl] Moore, Wright and [Patsy] Dougherty. … This same policy I shall pursue with the Clevelands.”2

Based on Wright’s first start with the Bronchos, fans had no choice but to trust Armour’s strategy.

Despite “freakish” winds that sent dust clouds blowing through Sportsman’s Park on April 25, 1902,3 Armour watched with delight as Wright stifled the St. Louis Browns with a two-hitter. Combined with an offensive outburst that included six hits from Zaza Harvey, Wright and the Bronchos picked up a 10-0 victory for their first win of the young season after opening with losses to the Browns in their first two games.4

Wright came to Dayton after winning an amateur championship with Barberton in 1897 and pitching admirably with independent teams in Erie and Greenville, Pennsylvania.5 He pitched a partial season for Armour in 1900 before he was loaned to the Montana League in June. After a successful return to Dayton in 1901, a fight arose for his services as major-league clubs continued to jockey for the best players to fill rosters in the National League and the upstart American League. Armour sold the pitcher’s rights to Cleveland in September, but the Brooklyn Superbas of the National League also staked a claim to him and even had him pitch their season finale on October 5, 1901.6 Wright’s breach was a “shock” to Armour.7

Brooklyn President Charlie Ebbets made additional efforts to secure Wright for the 1902 season, but “Big Gene” reported to Cleveland, and he quickly showed why more than one team wanted to sign him.8 His first start reminded fans of “the days when Cy Young first set the base ball people wild with his marvelous pitching.”9

Wright mixed “terrific” speed and “mystifying” drop curves10 to prevent the Browns from picking up a third straight victory to open the 1902 season. No St. Louis batter reached second base during the game and very few hitters got the ball to the outfield – much to the dismay of around 3,000 fans in attendance.

“Wright is second to [Amos] Rusie for speed, and for a youngster he uses his head well,” said St. Louis second baseman Dick Padden, who recorded one of his team’s singles and drew one of two Browns walks. “Cleveland has three great twirlers in Moore, Wright and [Luther] Taylor,11 and we were extremely lucky to get two games.”12

Browns manager Jimmy McAleer – who spent 1901 as Cleveland’s manager before announcing what turned out to be a short-team “retirement”13 – had turned to soft-tossing Bill Reidy, who confidently predicted, “They will break their backs going after my slow ones.”14

The winds instead made Reidy’s slow pitches ineffective,15 allowing Cleveland to pound out 21 hits, backing the brilliant effort by Wright – who set down the first 11 Browns batters before Davy Jones singled.

In the top of the third, Jack McCarthy walked and Harvey doubled for the Bronchos, and Osee Schrecongost lifted a wind-aided single to left field to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.16

In the fourth, Reidy was able to get two quick outs, but Ollie Pickering singled and stole second. McCarthy’s single brought him home, and after Harvey singled, Schrecongost drove in two more runs with a single for a 5-0 advantage. Frank Bonner singled and Bill Bradley walked to load the bases, but Reidy escaped the jam by getting John Gochnaur to ground out to first.

Pickering again singled and stole second with two outs in the fifth, and he pushed the lead to 6-0 by scoring when McCarthy’s short fly landed in left.

In the eighth, Pickering led off with a double and McCarthy reached on a sacrifice attempt after Browns catcher Billy Maloney tried to retire Pickering at third instead of taking the easy out at first base. Harvey and Schrecongost followed with singles, and after Bonner reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Schrecongost, Bradley and Gochnaur added RBI singles for a 10-0 lead.

Harvey, who was used primarily as a pitcher by the Chicago White Stockings in 1901 before he came to Cleveland and was permanently converted to a right fielder, became the third player in the American League’s two-season history to record six hits in a game and the first to do so without an extra-base hit.17

“To think I had a man with a [Napoleon] Lajoie batting eye,” said White Stockings owner Charles Comiskey, “and did not know it.”18

Unfortunately for Harvey, he never got to play in front of a home crowd in 1902;19 he was forced off the field after just 12 games by a stomach ailment that was causing “excruciating pains” with his every move.20

Despite such offensive promise, Harvey never returned to professional baseball.

“It is with the greatest regret that I leave Cleveland for my associations with the local club have always been of the pleasantest,” Harvey said.21

Wright maintained a 2.13 ERA in his first five starts, despite a 1-4 record,22 but for him and the rest of the Bronchos, the 1902 season provided a lot of ups and downs. Cleveland started the season 12-25 and was in the league’s cellar for all of May and June and the first 10 days in July. But a late-season rally saw the Bronchos playing like a pennant contender and they finished the season above .500.

Spurred on by the acquisition of Lajoie, who came to Cleveland in a legal maneuver in early June,23 the Bronchos took off down the stretch, going 31-20 in August and September24 to finish the year at 69-67 and fifth in the standings. With much of the roster intact for 1903, Cleveland was expected to contend for the pennant but was never atop the standings while finishing an improved 77-63.

Though Wright kept his ERA respectable, he struggled with command after his shutout. He walked six batters in each of his next two starts and acknowledged that his arm had “not been quite right” since the St. Louis start.25 His arm remained troublesome, and he did not pitch after August 11. Wright closed the season at 7-10 with a 3.94 ERA and was 3-10 for Cleveland in 1903 before being traded to the Browns on August 1.26

The Browns, who were in their first year of existence after relocating from Milwaukee, lost to Cleveland the next day to split the season-opening series, but became the most improved team in the AL in 1902. After finishing 48-89 and last in the league in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers, the new St. Louis Browns vaulted to second in the 1902 standings with a 78-58 record, which was five games behind the pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics.



This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted the Baseball-Reference.com, Stathead.com, and Retrosheet.org websites for pertinent material and the box scores noted below. He also used information obtained from game coverage by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, St. Louis Republic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Cleveland Plain Dealer.





1 Armour led Dayton to Interstate League titles in 1898 and 1900, and a controversial Western Association championship in 1901 that was at first incorrectly awarded to Grand Rapids. His team finished second in 1897 and seventh in 1899.

2 “Review of the Week,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 3, 1901: 28.

3 “Wright a Puzzle to McAleer’s Men,” St. Louis Republic, April 26, 1902: 4.

4 The final score was the most lopsided shutout win to that point for Cleveland, though it was quickly surpassed with a 14-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on May 17.

5 “A Giant Vet,” Dayton Daily News, March 27, 1900: 3.

6 In that game for Brooklyn, Wright earned the victory with a complete-game effort in a 4-2 win. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out six.

7 “Up-to-Date Gossip of the World of Sport,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 13, 1901: 28.

8 The interference continued into the season. Ebbets induced Wright to travel to Pittsburgh on May 8, where the struggling Superbas were amid a four-game series, but Wright again returned to Cleveland. At the same time, Ebbets also tried to get Gochnaur and Addie Joss to jump their contracts. “Wright Still a Clevelander,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 10, 1902: 8.

9 “Big Gene Wright’s Wonderful Feat,” Akron Beacon Journal, April 26, 1902: 5.

10 “Held Browns in His Hand,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 26, 1902: 6.

11 Taylor jumped back to the New York Giants after making just four starts for Cleveland.

12 “Held Browns in His Hand.”

13 It was reported on September 14, 1901, that McAleer had sold his stake in the Cleveland franchise and would step down as manager at the end of the season because his business interests in Youngstown, Ohio, would not allow him to continue an active interest in baseball. He was signed as manager of the Browns on October 8. “M’Aleer Will Quit Baseball,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 14, 1901: 6.

14 “Five Singles and a Defeat,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 25, 1902: 8.

15 This was in part due to Reidy’s often inducing hitters to hit the ball into the air, though the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, “[I]t was noticeable that a big majority of the safe ones scored against him yesterday needed no assistance from the wind to fall safe.” “Willie Sudhoff to Be in the Box for Browns Today,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 26, 1902: 3.

16 “Browns Played Poorly,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 26, 1902: 15.

17 In 1901 Baltimore’s Mike Donlin went 6-for-6 on June 24 in a 17-8 win over the Detroit Tigers and Detroit’s Kid Nance went 6-for-6 on July 13 in a 19-12 win over Cleveland. In 1902 two others from the AL recorded six hits in a game: Philadelphia’s Danny Murphy on July 8 in a 22-9 win over Boston and Baltimore’s Jimmy Williams on August 25 in a 21-6 win over Chicago. 

18 “Thinks Well of the Clevelands,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 9, 1902: 12.

19 Harvey played 18 games at League Park in 1901, including the first 12 games of a 13-game hitting streak from September 3 to 14.

20 “To Welcome the Bluebirds,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 6, 1902: 6.

21 “To Welcome the Bluebirds.”

22 For his career, Wright went 14-26 with a 4.50 ERA over four seasons. His only other shutout came on September 6, 1903, when he threw a four-hitter in a win over Detroit in his first start with the Browns.

23 Before the 1901 season, Lajoie jumped his contract with the Philadelphia Phillies to join the Philadelphia Athletics. Phillies owner John I. Rogers brought suit against Lajoie, and it was ruled on an appeal in 1902 that Lajoie could not play for any other team but the Phillies. But because that ruling was binding only in Pennsylvania, Lajoie was transferred to Cleveland and skipped games that were held in Philadelphia.

24 The only teams to finish better in the final two months were Philadelphia (41-19) and St. Louis (35-24).

25 “To Welcome the Bluebirds.”

26 After finishing 1903 with the Browns, Wright made his final major-league start in 1904 – which came against Cleveland in the fourth game of the season. He returned to professional ball with Spokane of the Class B Northwestern League from 1907 to 1909.

Additional Stats

Cleveland Bronchos 10
St. Louis Browns 0

Sportsman’s Park
St. Louis, MO


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

If you can help us improve this game story, contact us.


1900s ·