October 14, 1922: Death of Duluth professional baseball player and gambling den proprietor Rasty Wright

On this day in Duluth in 1922, former Duluth White Sox standout Rasty Wright died at his home after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 59 years old. Born William Smith Wright in Birmingham, Michigan, Smith bounced around baseball’s’s major league from 1884 to 1899. According to baseball historian Anthony Bush, Wright’s best years in baseball were as player-manager of the Grand Rapids squad, where during the 1894 and ’95 seasons he batted over .400 and accumulated a combined total of 389 runs, 457 hits, 89 doubles, 35 triples, 11 home runs, and 67 stolen bases. The club was called ‘Rasty Wright’s Rustlers’ or ‘Rasty Wright’s Rippers.’” Following baseball, Wright made his living running illegal poker games (he didn’t gamble himself), and by 1908 he was in Duluth, cooling his heels inside the St. Louis County Jail. A year later he was found guilty of “conducting a gambling establishment.” He spent the rest of his life in and out of jail and avoiding police, all because of his gambling operations. He was last arrested in February 1921, after his poker game was held up by a masked man. Police tracked down Wright after undercover officers approached known gamblers and asked them for the time. If they could not produce a watch, the detectives knew they had lost it to the hold-up man the night before. Pressured, one of them had identified Wright as the man who organized the game. Read more about the adventures of Rasty Wright here.

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