Meet the Mormon 'Moonlight' Graham

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

His only regret is that he didn’t swing at the first pitch, an 84-mph fastball over the heart of the plate, because it was the best pitch he would see before he struck out.

In his second at-bat in the fourth inning, Wright just wanted to make contact. There were runners on first and third and he wanted an RBI. He smacked a pitch that bounced up the middle, but Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers snagged the ball and threw to second base for the force out. Ruben Sierra, the runner on third, had drifted off the base and was caught in a rundown, but got tagged for out No. 2. Meanwhile, Wright attempted to reach second and became the last out as the ball was fired back to second base.

Wright’s last opportunity at the plate came in the sixth. This time, he swung at the fastball and connected, but the ball went right to Rangers’ shortshop Alex Rodriguez, who tossed the ball to second and to first for a double play.

Seattle manager Lou Piniella inserted a pinch hitter for Wright after that. A few days later, he was sent back to Tacoma. He never made it back to the major league level.

In the Mariners’ clubhouse after the game, he was presented with a souvenir lineup card signed by Rodriguez. Ben Davis, the Mariners’ catcher that day and now an analyst for CSN Philadelphia, said this of Wright’s big day in the majors: “It was like all these emotions in one. One, we were happy that he’s in the big leagues for this first game. Then he accounted for all those outs, which was not good obviously. But then we chuckled: What are the odds? They're astronomical,” Davis told the Sporting News.

“It stinks. Think about all the hours, all the batting practice, all the bus rides he took in the minor leagues — he finally gets to the big leagues with a chance to do something, and this happens. But I would say probably 99 percent of the people in the world would say they’d still love the opportunity to go and make six outs.”

Wright's one game has also well been documented by Lee Jenkins in the New York Times.

To this day, Wright continues to be grateful for his one MLB appearance.

“I would have loved to get a hit, but it’s a great memory,” he said.

Postgame report

Wright’s career spanned 11 seasons, from 1994 to 2004.

He graduated from pharmacy school at Idaho State in 2009. He and his wife have three daughters and one son with autism. The family lives in St. George, Utah.

Wright was the hitting coach for Dixie State under coach Mike Littlewood in 2004-05 and 2009-10. The team won the National Junior College World Series in ’04. Littlewood, now the head coach at BYU, said Wright was a valuable member of the staff because of his vast professional experience. Littlewood said everyone respected Wright for overcoming injuries and adversity to reach his goals.

“He (Wright) could relate to our guys and had so much to offer them with real-life experience,” Littlewood said. “He also showed you can be a really good (religious) guy and play professional sports.”

Murphy was not aware of his impact on Wright.

"I'm happy to hear about Ron Wright and his success in life and I am grateful to have had any kind of positive impact on him," Murphy said via email. "I don't remember specifically meeting him and, unfortunately, have not been aware of his baseball career. But I am humbled by his words and thankful to have had the chance to help him in some small way."

Wright wouldn’t trade his baseball experiences for anything. A career in minor league baseball has helped him develop the patience to care for his autistic son. It has also taught him persistence, hard work and the importance of priorities.

“I hope people see to never give up and that lessons you learn in hard work stay with you. That (the) glass is always half full. Be grateful. Keep priorities straight with church and family,” Wright said. “As much as it would have been nice to stay in the big leagues, I would never trade my family for it.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com

Twitter: tbtoone

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