George Wright

George Wright was baseball’s first franchise player. His older brother Harry was asked to form the first pro team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, and the first player Harry recruited was George, a shortstop. The Wrights transferred operations to Boston when the National Association was formed and won four of five pennants. George was the team’s sparkplug, Harry the manager. They joined the National League in its first season, 1876, and won pennants in 1877 and 1878, with George leading the league in at-bats. George managed Providence to a pennant in 1879, with Harry’s Boston club finishing second.

George gave up baseball almost entirely to establish a sporting-goods business. Since Albert Spalding and A.J. Reach already had strong footholds in baseball, Wright looked to other sports for development. He was helped in this goal when his son, Beals, became an early tennis star. When the Hall of Fame opened in 1939, Wright was one of its first inductees.