Having been foiled in their efforts to acquire a shortstop of some quality, the Elm Citys turned to the foremost baseball playing family in the National Association: the Wrights.
In early April, the club announced the acquisition of 26-year-old Sam Wright Jr. to be their starting shortstop. “He has been a member of the Boston juniors for the past two seasons and is considered a first class man for that position,” the Daily Palladium reported.
What Sam Wright lacked in professional game experience, he made up for in pedigree. His father Sam was a famous cricketer. His older brothers Harry and George were mainstays of the Boston Red Stockings, the most successful club in the five year history of the National Association. The New York Clipper wrote that Wright would “undoubtably become as famous as his two brothers.” That kind of acheivement would be impressive, given the success the Wright brothers enjoyed in the early days of the game.
English-born Harry, the 39-year-old captain of the team, led the Red Stockings to a record of 154 wins and 52 losses from 1871 through 1874, batting .275 as an part-time outfielder. He would move into management full time in 1875. Evolving into baseball from cricket, Harry Wright was the first player to openly receive payment for playing, an event that took place in New York in 1863. He also formed the first professional team in Cincinnati in 1869, an excellent club for which Elm Citys captain Charles Gould played.
George Wright, 27, was the best player of the three brothers up to that point, hitting .345 and leading the league in triples in 1874. Harry constructed his successful Cincinnati and Boston franchises around George’s uncanny offensive ability and his revolutionary work at the shortstop position, then thought of as a kind of defensive rover.
Both Harry and George would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously for their contributions to the development of the sport.
Even though Sam Wright was a rookie, one understands why the Elm Citys signed him. To echo the scouts in Moneyball, perhaps he had “the good face.” It is more than likely Sam Wright had a personal relationship with Gould goind back to his teen years. There could be another motivation for the signing. Giving another member of the famous Wright family a chance to play couldn’t have been bad for the box office.
With addition of Wright, the Elm Citys finally have a full lineup for opening day in two weeks, one featuring five rookies, three very marginal players, and a single player on the downswing of a distinguished career.