Akers: The forgotten men who broke baseball’s color line along with Jackie Robinson

From W.M. Akers at VICE Sports on April 15, 2015:

On March 4, 1946, Jackie Robinson took the field for the first time as a Montreal Royal. He talked to reporters, joked about his weight, and took practice swings. Robinson was the story, but he was not the only black player on the field. There was also John Wright, a lean right-handed pitcher who spent the day throwing batting practice and playing pepper. As he would be throughout spring training, Wright was in the background.

For the next few months, Wright would travel with Robinson, play with him, room with him, and endure every abuse Jim Crow threw their way. The night a white man came to Robinson’s boarding house to announce, “We want the niggers out of town,” Wright and Robinson left town in the same car. It was the first step on a journey that would take one man to stardom, and the other to obscurity.

Wright was a former ace for the Homestead Grays, the greatest team in the Negro Leagues. When he is remembered, it is as Jackie Robinson’s roommate, the scrub brought in to take the pressure off Branch Rickey’s chosen crusader. Along with Roy Partlow, another former Gray, Wright was one of the men who broke baseball’s color line. Both were pitchers, and both had been stars. They were more than Robinson’s roommates, and more than the footnotes they’ve become.

Read the full article here: https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-forgotten-men-who-broke-baseballs-color-line-with-jackie-robinson

Originally published: April 15, 2015. Last Updated: April 15, 2015.