A couple days ago, I did more research on baseball and the United Kingdom than I ever had. Granted, before yesterday, I had done basically zero research, so that’s not saying much. Still, I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of sorts on a topic I had never thought about before MLB announced a London series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees for next June.
As I started to get lost in Baseball-Reference pages I had never seen before, I found out that the United Kingdom has produced 48 MLB players. That’s more than South Korea, Taiwan and Colombia, among others. I clicked through to see this list of 48 and see if I recognized anyone. Bobby Thomson, a three-time All-Star for the New York Giants in the late 1940s and early 1950s, who also played for Boston for 40 games in 1960, was the the only one I was particularly familiar with.
That meant most players were new to me, although there were plenty of fantastic old timey baseball names. Hobe Ferris played nine seasons and had 1,1145 hits for the Boston Americans (who would become the Red Sox) and St. Louis Browns. Lance Painter actually played as recently as 2003. Irish McIlveen only played in 53 games from 1906 to 1909, and most of that was with the Yankees. Those were some of my favorites.
But there was one player who stuck out the most. His name is Harry Wright and he is the only Hall of Famer to ever come out of the UK. Wright earned that honor not so much for his playing, but for his work as a pioneer in the early years of baseball. He helped create the Cincinnati Red Stockings and started playing organized baseball in the 1860s with the New York Knickerbockers and New York Gothams.
He eventually moved the Red Stockings to Boston where he played for seven years, slashing .276/.307/.336 with an OPS+ of 90. He was a pitcher as well, working mostly in relief. He produced a 3.68 career ERA in 100 1/3 innings and is credited with 14 career saves, including league-leading marks in 1871, 1872 and 1873, according to Baseball-Reference. He then became a manager with several teams, including the Red Stockings as well as the Philadelphia Phillies. While the Red Stockings were the precursors to the Braves and not the Red Sox, the fact that he helped bring professional baseball to the city is nothing to overlook.
Last night’s game was lost in the eighth inning. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
Finding a better solution in the penultimate inning will be important going forward. (Sean McAdam; Boston Sports Journal)
Jackie Bradley Jr. is really struggling to find success at the plate. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. (Cam Ellis; BP Boston)
The Red Sox are still figuring out what to do with Steven Wright once he comes back from suspension for domestic violence. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)