Cieradkowski: Wild Bill Wright, the neglected Negro Leagues star

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on September 26, 2016:

Ever since I was a kid researching the Negro Leagues on microfilm and ancient bound newspaper volumes, I always wondered how certain players would have done had there not been a color barrier. I’m not talking about guys like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Leon Day or Martin Dihigo – those guys were sure-fire big league stars. I’m talking about those second-tier stars, you know, the Dale Murphy’s to the Wade Boggs’.

One of those players I often wondered about was a fella named Wild Bill Wright. I had first discovered Wright through old box scores, but it wasn’t until I met a few oldsters in Baltimore who saw him play firsthand that I really came to appreciate him. For a time Wright was one of the premier stars of the Negro National League, and looking at his numbers and testimony from his peers, the name “Wild Bill Wright” should be well-known today. Yet for a few reasons it isn’t.

Burnis Wright was born in Milan, Tennessee in 1914. By the time he reached his teens he grew to the then enormous height of 6′-4″. Because of his imposing stature, Wright was put to work as a pitcher where he earned the moniker “Wild Bill” from his inability to find the strike zone. In spite of being built like a football player he possessed lightening speed and graceful agility, making him perfect for covering outfield pastures.

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Originally published: September 26, 2016. Last Updated: September 26, 2016.