Whirty: Johnny Wright, U.S. Navy ace

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Home Plate Don’t Move on March 22, 2017:

The first one I picked up on involved the Great Lakes Naval Training Center team in Great Lakes, Ill., which sponsored two baseball teams of naval servicemen during World War II — one white, one black. The African-American squad was formed partially to provide a competitive adversary for the base’s white squad, which was helmed by future Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane.

Not surprisingly to readers of this blog, as well as other Negro Leagues volumes, the Negro Bluejackets did more than just compete — they won the Midwest Servicemen’s League title in 1944, in addition to successfully barnstorming around Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and other Midwestern states.

While the black club’s roster included only one huge name — Larry Doby, future star for the Newark Eagles and the Cleveland Indians, and 1998 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee — the aggregation was definitely studded with a solid core of other Negro League standouts of the day. Capitol University graduate Ensign Elmer Pesek [I haven’t been able to track down the Capitol reference] skippered the squad (I’ve seen other variations on his name, including first names Ernest and Al, as well as last name Peshek).

The African-American Bluejackets’ strength was undoubtedly its pitching staff, which, from all accounts, was comprised of just two guys. One was Herb Bracken, who hurled for the St. Louis Stars before joining the Navy.

The other was one of NOLA’s most prominent hometown lads, Johnny Wright, who first gained fame on a national scale when he posted an eye-popping mark of 30-5 for the Homestead Grays in 1943.

Read the full article here: https://homeplatedontmove.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/johnny-wright-u-s-navy-ace/

Originally published: March 24, 2017. Last Updated: March 24, 2017.