Tuesday, December 05, 2006

John Wright: The Forgotten Dodger Prospect

I figured that sooner or later I would take some time to scan some of my other collectibles. Including the above wirephoto of Negro League pitcher John "Needle Nose" Wright. Pictured in a Homestead Grays uniform, Wright also pitched for the Crawfords, Newark Eagles and Black Crackers.

He has an important place in Dodger history. John Wright was the 2nd African-American player to be signed by the Dodgers. In fact, I believe Wright and Jackie Robinson where signed on the same day. He went along with Jackie to Montreal to play for their minor league affiliate, the Royals. John pitched in 2 games, but I could not find any statistics about those games. He then left the team and returned to the Negro Leagues.

From my understanding, John Wright was not expected to be brought up to the "Bigs," although he was very good, by all accounts. (Update: John Wright won 18 and lost 5 in 1943 for the Grays.) Branch Rickey and other Dodger executives where worried about the impact the game, and its fans, would have on Jackie Robinson. Afterall, Jackie would have to face some pretty crazy things, and they felt it might be too much of a burden for one man to carry. It was hoped that John Wright could help shield Jackie, or at least be able to carry some of the burden.

At the end of the day, John decided to go home and Jackie ended up being more than capable in handling the constant taunts and derisive comments.

UPDATE: Here is an excellent article about John Wright's time with the Dodgers, via Ryan Whirty at Baseball America.  He has far more information that what I was able to gather.  Go here to check out that article.
The above photo features 3 players from the New York Cubans Baseball team. It was taken in 1950 and features New York Central Park in the background. The back of the photo states that the players are Rene Gonzales, Carlos Blanco and Carlos Colas, but I am not so sure. Carlos Colas was much older and did not play for the Cubans in 1950. Carlos Blanco is a member of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame and resembles the man in the center, but it's hard to say if it really is him. Rene Gonzales, though, appears to be the gentleman on the right. He was 6'2" and played in the Negro Leagues, and for the NY Cubans, in 1950.

Even without knowing exactly who is pictured it is still a rare and important Baseball item. Negro League cards, photos and memorabilia are scarce and highly sought after.

Please fell free to check out some of the other Negro League items I downloaded here:


  1. Tom Meany, sports columnist for the left-wing New York daily newspaper PM, wrote this about Wright in the April 7, 1946 issue: "There are two Negro candidates working out with the Montreal Royals in camp here, but you'd never know it from the newspapers. Jackie Robinson, the first Negro signed to a contract in organized ball, continues to be the spearhead, while John Wright, the second Negro signed by Branch Rickey, remains an afterthought ..."

  2. interesting comment above. i am john wright's daughter and there are many stories floating out there. my thought - do the research. my dad can be googled and many articles pop up. check the stats.

    1. Thanks for writing. I'd love to hear about your father; especially from your family's perspective. Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    2. i have books, newspaper articles and pictures of my dad and other negro league players. i salvaged what i could after hurricane katrina. but i have also googled, visited the negro league museum in KC, as well as corrected information at the smithsonian website. recently i found stats from several teams but just today i located a baseball card online. waiting to hear from the company. C. W. Robinson

    3. Hi CW... I am writing a comprehensive biography on John Wright for the Society of Baseball Researchers (SABR) and would love any insight you or any of your family can provide, my email is nadler1744@yahoo.com

  3. Ms. Wright Please contact me I have several interesting items and photos of your Dad I have collected I would not mind making copies for you since you said sadly Katrina took most of your stuff.


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