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The First Big Hitter In The Game:

 GEORGE WRIGHT

         

In professional baseball's infancy, probably the best player in the game was George Wright, a 5-foot-9-inch, ISO-pound infielder. All accounts produce the profile of a player far ahead of his time, a player with skills considerably more advanced than his contemporaries.

He was a natural to come to Cincinnati to be the shortstop on the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional team. The manager was George's brother, Harry Wright.

 

George Wright had gained quite a reputation in the East as a young cricket player, proclaimed as one of the best in the world at the age of 16 in 1863. Three years later he was recognized as one of the best baseball players. He began a career with the Olympics in New York and his reputation spread far and wide.

 

When older brother Harry founded the Red Stockings, one of the first players contacted was George Wright. He moved to Cincinnati from Morrissiana, New York, and became the top-paid professional player - earning a first-year salary of $1,400.

 

George Wright was an incredible hitter. When the Red Stockings played from coast to coast in 1869, traveling more than 12,000 miles, Wright was the team's primary gate attraction and the game's first great hitter. In 52 games, George Wright batted .518, scored 339 runs and

hit 59 home runs. Granted, the game wasn't played as it is today, but the team as a whole produced only 169 home runs and Wright hit 59 of them.

 

George Wright stayed in Cincinnati through 1870 and moved on to Boston in 1871 when the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed. That association was the forerunner of the National League, founded five years later.

 

George Wright eventually played seven seasons in the National League with Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. His last year was 1882. Then he embarked on another career that made him almost as famous as did his baseball playing.

 

George Wright opened a sporting goods store with a partner, founding the Wright and Ditson Sporting Goods Company.

 

Soon after opening his store, Wright placed an order for some cricket bats through a firm in Scotland. While leafing through the Scottish catalogue, an advertisement for golf clubs caught his eye.

 

 

 

Golf was still unknown to American sport and it intrigued Wright. Eventually, he was sent a rule book. Soon after that, Wright and a group of his sporting friends laid our a nine-hole golf course near Boston.

The following year the prestigious Brookline Country Club began promoting the new game and the sport officially was introduced to America's sportsdom.

Wright lived to see baseball and golf change dramatically. He was still around in 1936 when the Baseball Hall of Fame was founded. The following year, at the age of 90, Wright died, but not before being recognized by the Hall of Fame as one of the game's greats. He was one of the first members inducted into this exclusive Valhalla of baseball's heroes.

 

 

       

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