Friday, March 06, 2009

The Mystery Of George Wright

I was doing some research for some weird thing or another, and I came across a mid-eighties Texas Ranger named George Wright. He was their "center fielder of the future," but quickly disappeared. I was collecting cards years before his career started, and was still collecting years after. Yet I can't remember this guy. Just looked up his cards on ebay, and none looked familiar to me.

Even more curious is that I have no recollection of a crazy game he was a part of in June 1986. Charlie Hough had a no-hitter going against the Angels, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, up by a run. Wright had replaced Gary Ward in left field for defensive purposes at the start of the inning. Jack Howell hit a fly ball down the left field line. Wright ran all the way over to the line for it, but he ran too far. He reached back, but the ball fell to earth, just fair. Howell was on third base with the tying run. But getting the next two batters would save the game and the no-hitter. Birthday boy Wally Joyner came up, though, and with two strikes on him, lined a single to center, ending the no-hitter, and tying the game. But it gets weirder. A Hough knuckler got away from the catcher, allowing Joyner to go to third, before Doug DeCinces struck out for the second out. Reggie Jackson was intentionally walked. Then on a 3-2 pitch, George Hendrick swung and missed. That should have sent the game to extra innings...but the catcher missed it, too. Joyner, of course, was off with the pitch, and seeing it get by the catcher, kept right on going around third. Hough forgot to cover the plate. The catcher raced toward the plate with the ball, but Joyner beat him to it, and the game was over. Angels 2, Rangers 1.

George Wright wouldn't play any more games for Texas. Two days later he was sent to the Expos "as part of a conditional deal." (The player to be named later was never named.) He played out the rest of '86 with the Expos and their triple-A team. The following March, he broke his foot, and never played in the majors again. Before the '88 season, the Expos sent him to, well, Baseball Reference says, "Sent from the Montreal Expos to ??? in an unknown transaction." It's kind of fitting that they triple the uncertainty. He ended up on with the Giants, who then traded him to the White Sox, but he saw no action with either team. Wikipedia says he spent some time in the Japanese League as late as 1993.

After looking all that up, I then found out that Wright was also part of another crazy play that I do remember. It was the month before the blown no-hitter--remember when Steve Lyons and Marty Barrett both slid into second at the same time? And then both ended up scoring when the throw from the outfield went into the dugout to end the game? George Wright threw that ball. I don't know how I don't remember this guy.

I remember George Wright. He seemed like a decent player when he started out with Texas in '82 and '83. He had his good years around the same time Billy Sample had his big years with Texas.

I remember the play you mentioned, when Barrett and Lyons slid into second, but I never would have thought of it again if you hadn't brought it up. Funny how memory works.

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