Cieradkowski: Johnny Wright, more than just ‘the other guy’

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on April 20, 2016:

Since we just passed the 70th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson took the field for the Montreal Royals in Jersey City, I think it’s important to celebrate an often overlooked event that occurred a few days later on April 24, 1946. That was the day Johnny Wright emerged from the bullpen in Syracuse’s MacArthur Park and became organized baseball’s first black pitcher in the 20th century. 

Now, I’m not going to go over the “forgotten man” ground that often is the gist of any piece on Johnny Wright. Instead I’ll try to retell his story as comprehensively as possible. That’s not an easy task – many modern articles about Wright have confusing and sometimes just plain wrong details. Even the black press at the time seemed to drop Wright like a hot potato after he was demoted from Montreal. In writing this piece I dug up as many contemporary newspaper sources as I could, not only about his brief stint in organized baseball, but for his Negro League career as well. 

Today, Wright’s time in Montreal is seen as a brief footnote to Jackie Robinson’s story. But the way I want to tell this story is a little different – I’m going to attempt to flip it the other way around – that those six weeks with Montreal was just a brief footnote in Johnny Wright’s story

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 20, 2016. Last Updated: April 20, 2016.