Erie entrepreneur Ernest Wright Sr. owned the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro Leagues. In 1942, Mr. Wright also assumed custody of the Pope Hotel following the death of his mother, Jessie Pope. With resources provided in part from a successful numbers game he ran on the side, Wright brought high-caliber talent like Pearl Bailey and Duke Ellington to entertain audiences at the Pope. Following the end of the Negro Leagues, Wright led many former members of the Cleveland Buckeyes to Erie to continue playing professional baseball for the Glenwood League semi-professional Pontiacs. Most famous among them was Sam Jethroe, who had led the Buckeyes to a Negro League championship in 1945. When Jethroe’s brief but remarkable career ended, he came to Erie where he played for the Pontiacs and tended bar for Ernie Wright at the Pope Hotel before opening Sam Jethroe’s Steakhouse on Parade Street.