After Rickey announced the signing of Robinson in October 23, 1945, he would later announce the signing of a right hand pitcher by the name of Johnny Wright. Wright was 30 years old and had spent the past nine seasons pitching in the Negro Leagues. The signing was announced on January 29, 1946- though it is quite possible Wright signed with the Dodgers as early as November 20, 1945. Wright had a lot of success pitching for the Newark Eagles, Toledo Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.
A lot of evidence supports the claim that Wright was signed so Robinson was not the only black player on a white team in an all white (to that point) league. Wright was on the 1946 Montreal Royals opening day roster and stayed through the middle of March. Unlike Robinson, who prospered during his time in Montreal, Wright struggled in his spring training outings and during his two appearances for the Royals. After just two outings, Wright was demoted to the Trois Rivieres Royals where he had a very good season, going 12-8 while walking just 58 in 154 IP. That was stark contrast to his 6 innings while in Montreal, where he walked 5 batters. Though baseball reference does not give his total minor league stats while pitching for Montreal, research has shown that Wright likely gave up 4 runs in 3+ innings in his first outing and pitched 2+ scoreless relief in his next appearance. After finishing the season with Trois Rivieres of the Class C Canadian American League, he went back to pitch in the Negro Leagues before calling it a career.
When Wright was demoted, he was replaced on the Montreal roster by LHP Roy Partlow, another African American pitcher. Parlow was Wright's teammate on the 1943 Grays team that won the Pennant. Robinson himself mentioned Wright once in his autobiography talking about how he didn't think Wright had the temperament to handle the constant insults without being able to retaliate. Robinson added that he felt it effected his pitching.
Though there are some who think Wright was not an outstanding pitcher, others remember his talent, including Monte Irvin- who felt that he had a MLB curve ball. Other said he threw harder than Satchel Paige. Some of the teams that Wright played on in the Negro Leagues were the best the game had ever seen. The Grays had won 9 consecutive Pennants, with players such as Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Jud WIlson and Wright.
I'd like to know is Wright really could handle the difficulty of dealing with those unfair circumstances. The fact that he returned to the Negro Leagues in 1948 leaves the possibility that he had some difficulty dealing with the hatred from the Southern bigots. Perhaps Robinson's views were correct in regards to Wright's temperament. Later on in his life, Wright made very few, if any, remarks about his time playing baseball. He was soft spoken man who worked at the National Gypsum Company after he was finished playing. Though he was considered level-headed and objective, the fact that he traveled by himself while Robinson had his wife at his side could have made things more difficult mentally. Johnny Wright was a better man than I will ever be- as he had to face adversities I will never have to.