Leaguer of the Month
"Wild Bill" Wright
Born: June 6, 1914 in Milan, Tennessee
Died: August 3, 1996 in Aguascalientes, Mexico
Ht:6'-4", Wt: 225
Batted both and threw right
Teams: Columbus Elite Giants, Washington Elite Giants, Baltimore
Elite Giants, Mexico
Bill spent his entire Negro League career with the Elite Giants
(pronounced "Eee-lite"), from their start in Columbus, to Washington,
D.C., and finally to Baltimore.
tall and powerfully-built switch-hitting outfielder, Wright
was considered one of the top all-around stars in the Negro
Leagues from the mid-30s through the 1940s. Besides having
great power from both sides of the plate, and annually posting
a high average, Wright was an outstanding outfielder and only
Cool Papa Bell could outrun him. He was once timed circling
the bases in 13.2 seconds.*
Bill" got his nickname from his lack of control while
pitching on the sandlots of Milan, Tennessee (many thought
it came from
his super aggressive sliding). When he was offered a tryout
with the Columbus Elite Giants in 1932,
to the outfield, where he stayed his entire Negro League career.
batted in the heart of the order, usually third, for the Elite
Giants for a decade, and batted as high as .400 several times.
He won the Negro National League batting title in '39 with
a .488 average in League games. His lifetime Negro League batting
average, .361, is one of the highest in history; only Josh
Gibson, Chino Smith and Jud Wilson posted higher lifetime percentages.
In 1936, Wright was chosen (along with Bob Griffith, Cool Papa
Bell, Josh Gibson, Raymond Brown and Buck Leonard, among others)
to play with a Negro League All-Star team that entered the
some of the greatest teams outside Organized Baseball. The
Negro League stars cruised through the tourney in seven straight
games, and is considered one of the strongest teams ever assembled,
akin to the "Dream Team" of 1992 that brought Larry Bird, Michael
Jordan and Magic Johnson together.
played in nine East-West all star games, batting .355 combined.
In the '37 game, Wright was the star of stars as he batted
blasted two singles and a double and led the East to a 7-2
win. He also made the defensive gem of the day when he sprinted
in from center to snare a blooper off the bat of Newt Allen.
was the goat in the '45 game when he lost two fly balls in
the sun that led to a West's 9-6 victory.#
who had jumped the Negro Leagues to play in Mexico several
times earlier in his career, only to return to the United States,
left the Negro Leagues for good in 1945 and played another
his many years in Mexico, Wright was one of the most popular
players because of his diverse
talents and charisma.
One season, Wright led the Mexican League in stolen bases and
batting average, and another season he won the Triple Crown
(league leader in average, homers and RBIs). That season he
also only trailed the league leader in stolen bases by one!
He was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
After retiring as a player, Wright continued to live in Mexico,
and opened a successful restaurant named "Bill Wright's Dugout."
There may not have been more than a handful of better all-around
Negro Leaguers in Negro League history than Wild Bill Wright.
*From "The Negro Baseball Leagues," by James
#From "The East-West Game" by Larry Lester
site, and the webmaster, is powered by Xango!!!