Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thank You Saito

The Saito "pump" stays in LA.

Takashi Saito signed a 1 year contract today. I can't tell how happy I am to know he is coming back. He was a breath of fresh air. His smile and constant enthusiasm was an inspiration for the fans, and his stellar performance inspired the whole team. Thank you for a great year.

Photo Link: eTopps:

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: