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February 13, 1921: Bandit holds up gamblers in den of former baseball star

On this day in Duluth in 1921, a gambling den operated by Rasty Wright, former professional baseball player, was held up by a masked bandit. Wright moved to Duluth in 1908. According to Duluth baseball historian Anthony Bush, “In the early morning of February 13, 1921, a craps game at Wright’s apartment at 224 West Third Street was interrupted when an unwelcome guest—wearing a handkerchief over his face and a wig on his head—entered the room, pulled a gun, and robbed the 15 players gathered there. The robber fired three shots during the incident, two at fleeing participants who presumably thought the robbery was a police raid. The third struck the floorboards near Wright’s feet—he had not moved fast enough when the gunman demanded he put his hands up and face the wall. Duluth plain clothes officers later stopped known gamblers on the street and asked for the time; nine who could not produce their pocket watches were suspected of being among the victims and booked on gambling charges. William “Reddy” Bownes, a 25-year-old African American veteran of World War I, was convicted of the hold up and sentenced to five to 40 years in prison. Wright was arrested for keeping a gambling place. You can read more about Wright here.

William “Rasty” Wright. (Image: Public Domain)