Atlanta Braves Franchise Top 10 Managers–#1 Harry Wright
The Quakers (Phillies)
After two years at Providence, the club went out of business. Wright Moved to the Philadelphia Quakers – Phillies – and spent the 10 seasons with them even though they often failed to pay the players or their manager.
While managing the Phillies, an illness caused Wright to temporarily lose his sight in May. It gradually returned over time and fully returned in March of 1891. Over the same period, his wife became ill and passed away.
Wright and minority owner John Rogers never got along. Rogers thought he knew a lot about baseball and tried to micromanage Wright . . . that sounds familiar . . . and Rogers made sure the Phillies didn’t renew his contract after the 1893 season, incurring the ire of fans and the local press.
The National League wasn’t happy about the Phillies’ treatment of Wright either, so they created a position called Chief of Umpires that would only last until Wright’s death. It was a way to guarantee Wright some income and keep him in the game. In 1895, Wright and the job died.
Before his death, Wright donated his personal belongings to the league he helped found and nurture. Possibly the first donation of such memorabilia to the league. On April 13, 1896, the National League held Harry Wright Day, with proceeds going towards a memorial. According to his SABR bio, in 1886, a newspaper said Wright was. “undoubtedly the best known baseball man in the country.”
Even Rogers, his determined enemy, declared, “It has therefore truly been said, that so identified was he with the progress and popularity of the game its history is virtually his biography.”
Typical of the BBWAA, they ignored Harry Wright. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis was unhappy with the BBWAA’s lack of action in every way, so he formed the Pioneer/Executive committee and . . . selected Harry’s brother George to enter the Hall of Fame.
Harry Wright was finally given his long overdue plaque in 1953.
Henry Chadwick wrote of Wright’s death:
"“No death among the professional fraternity has occurred which elicited such painful regret. (He was) the most widely known, best respected, and most popular of the exponents and representatives of professional baseball, of which he was virtually the founder.”"
That’s a Wrap
No Atlanta Braves manager met and conquered challenges like those Harry Wright faced. The Civil War remained an open wound, and reconstruction hadn’t begun when he built the Boston Red Stockings.
His team dominated the NA with such ease that opposing fans demanded the league Break-Up the Red Stockings. When other teams poached his players, he rebuilt with lesser talents and still won the pennant.
Players and executives of that era knew the name of the father of professional baseball. It was also the name of the manager of the Bostons. Harry Wright.