When you are 22 years old with five years of pro experience and an organization turns over the reigns of a team to you, even a Class D minor league team, it's clear that someone sees you as a 'baseball guy'. And so it was with Harry Bright. In 1952, six years after signing his first contract with the Yankees (at 16!), Bright was named player/manager of the Janesville Cubs in the Wisconsin State League. One of his opposing managers, btw, was Hall of Famer Travis Jackson who, at 48, likely had spikes older than Bright.
Despite some impressive numbers it took Bright 12 years to make the major leagues after his signing in '46. He played some for the Pirates in the second half of 1958 and spent the whole of '59 with them playing on a limited basis.
He was traded to the Senators and in '61 was a platoon guy but in '62 he had his best big league year hitting 17 homers to go with a .273 average as the Nats' regular first baseman. He bounced around with several different clubs through 1965. That included a stint with the Yankees that got him his only post-season action, two at bats (both whiffs) in the '63 Series against the Dodgers. He was Sandy Koufax' 15th strike out in Game One, ending the game as a footnote to what was then a new Series single game K record. He later lamented that after waiting so long to make it to a Series the whole country was pulling for him to strike out.
Following his retirement as an active player Bright coached and managed in the minors and served as a scout for the Expos up until his death in 2000 at the age of 70.
And finally, just because it's a challenging read, here is Harry Bright's transaction log, as seen on Baseball Reference. Please take notes as a quiz will follow.
- Before 1946 Season: Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent.
- May, 1947: Released by the New York Yankees.
- Before 1950 Season: Sent from Miami (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri) to the Chicago Cubs in an unknown transaction.
- December 3, 1951: Drafted by York (Interstate) from the Chicago Cubs in the 1951 minor league draft.
- Before 1952 Season: Returned (earlier draft pick) by York (Interstate) to the Chicago Cubs.
- Before 1953 Season: Sent from the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago White Sox in an unknown transaction.
- November 30, 1953: Drafted by the Detroit Tigers from the Chicago White Sox in the 1953 rule 5 draft.
- May, 1955: Purchased by Sacramento (PCL) from the Detroit Tigers.
- July 21, 1958: Purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates from Sacramento (PCL).
- November 30, 1959: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1959 rule 5 draft.
- April 7, 1960: Returned (earlier draft pick) by the Chicago Cubs to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- December 16, 1960: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with Bennie Daniels and R C Stevens to the Washington Senators for Bobby Shantz.
- November 24, 1962: Traded by the Washington Senators to the Cincinnati Reds for Rogelio Alvarez. Rogelio Alvarez returned to original team on April 20, 1963.
- April 21, 1963: Purchased by the New York Yankees from the Cincinnati Reds.
- September 11, 1964: Released by the New York Yankees.
- March 15, 1965: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.
Harry Bright Transactions quiz:
- How many times was Harry 'returned' to his original team within months of a transaction?
- How many times was Harry released by the Yankees?
- How many times times was Harry involved in an 'unknown transaction'?
- How many of Harry's transactions involve the Cubs?
- How many years elapsed between Harry first being acquired by the Cubs and the first game he played for them?
- ...Which of these transaction methods did the Cubs employ in deals involving Harry?
---Sent to the Cubs---Sent from the Cubs
---Drafted from the Cubs
---Returned to the Cubs
---Returned by the Cubs
---Signed as Free Agent by the Cubs
It's easy to see that Bright's card has escaped my 'upgrade purges' over the past few years. Condition-wise it sits right in between "I'm OK with it" and "Maybe I should I'll spring for the $3.75 to get a better one". I think I'll just keep this copy. Harry's bright-eyed 'happy-to-be-in-majors-after-eleven-years-in-the-minors' look seems fitting on a card that's much closer to "F" than it is to "G" on the Fair-to-Good scale.