MLB

$207 Million Infielder David Wright Went Unrecognized While Coaching a Tee-Ball Team

If his goal in retirement is to spend quality time with his family and fade into relative anonymity, then David Wright is 2-for-2. Considering that he was a .296 career hitter for the New York Mets, that’s right in line with his proficiency at the plate.

Wright now lives 3,000 miles away from where he made his reputation as one of the best third basemen in the business. Still, it’s amazing that he has been forgotten so soon after injuries forced him into retirement while he should have still been in his prime.

David Wright reached the majors and stardom quickly

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The New York Mets looked to be set at third base for a decade or more when David Wright arrived in the major leagues sooner than expected at the age of 21.  Wright was the 38th player selected in the 2001 MLB draft, which says something about his career at Hickory High in Chesapeake, Virginia. Still, getting to the big-league team by 2004 was nothing less than impressive.

Wright played the first half of the 2004 season in the minors and then chalked up a .293 average and 14 homers in 69 games with veteran Mike Piazza and the New York Mets. He batted between .302 and.325 in each of the next five seasons to earn the first four of his seven All-Star Game appearances as well as a pair of Gold Gloves. The high point was 2007, when he notched a spot in the 30-30 club with 30 home runs and 34 stolen bases.

The first sign of trouble for Wright would come in 2011, when he sustained a stress fracture in his lower back and missed two months. He finished the season with just a .254 average and 14 homers. A hamstring injury in 2013 sent Wright to the sidelines for seven weeks down the stretch, dooming the Mets to their fourth straight losing season.

Spinal stenosis ended his MLB career too soon

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That 2013 season was a busy one for David Wright even before the injury. The New York Mets picked up his $16 million option for the season and sweetened the deal with a seven-year, $122 million extension that would ultimately push his career earnings to $207 million.

Wright played in the World Baseball Classic alongside Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Braun, and Joe Mauer in early March, where he slugged a grand slam in a preliminary-round game and drove home five runs in a game against Puerto Rico in the second-round opener, earning him the nickname “Captain America.

A little more than a week later, the nickname took on added meaning as the Mets selected Wright as just the fourth captain in team history.

Unfortunately, the 2014 season would be Wright’s last as a full-time player. A series of back ailments began to limit him in 2015, and he went on to play just a combined 75 games over two seasons before receiving a diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

Wright finished with career numbers of 242 homers, 196 stolen bases, and a .296 average in 1,585 games.

$207 million infielder David Wright went unrecognized

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Former New York Mets star David Wright lives in Manhattan Beach, California with wife Molly and their young daughters, Olivia and Madison. Having earned $207 million with the Mets, it’s easy for Wright to stay retired at the age of 37 beyond some appearances on behalf of the team. However, he stays active.

Wright recently told the story of volunteering to coach 3-year-old Olivia’s co-ed tee-ball team.  He showed up early for the first game to help set up the field and get his bearings. The opposing coach showed up shortly afterward and they struck up a conversation.

“So he goes, ‘I played a little college ball, I was pretty good,’” Wright recalled, as recounted by Radio.com, “and then he asked me, ‘Did you play?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I dabbled a little bit,’ and I got a nice chuckle out of that.”

Wright seems to enjoy the relative anonymity in everyday life, which would be impossible had he stayed in New York. Having adoring fans is nice, but being able to focus his time and energy on the kids is even better.

“It was kind of fun to just turn on that dad moment, where you’re just coaching a team, and they’re running the wrong way on the bases and don’t know where the positions are. But they get the biggest smiles on their faces when they finally make contact off the tee for the first time, and it’s pretty rewarding.”

David Wright

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.