19. HARRY WRIGHT, Manager
Born in Sheffield, England, Wright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. He is considered one of baseball’s true forefathers as in 1869 he organized, managed, and played centerfield for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first truly professional team in history. His brother George, 12 years his junior, was also an early star who is enshrined in the Hall.
Harry Wright is credited with being the innovator who came up with ideas such as backing up infield plays, and putting on infield defensive shifts, and of course that pro aspect, actually paying his players.
When the first Phillies/Quakers team finished in last place at 17-81 in their inaugural season of 1883, Reach brought in Wright as the manager to turn things around. The club moved up to 6th place in his first season, then to their first-ever winning record at 56-54 and 3rd place in 1885.
The following year they improved again to 71-43, and then in 1887 he guided the club to a 2nd place finish in the National League, just 3 1/2 games back of the eventual champion Detroit club. From 1888-93, the club hovered between 3rd and 5th place.
While Harry Wright never won a championship in Philadelphia, he made the team a truly professional outfit for the first time, and he brought the city its first winner. By 1893 his inability to actually deliver a winner was causing clashes with Reach and Rogers, and his contract was not renewed.