18 April 1888 – On this day 125 years ago, former Boston Red Sox outfielder Duffy Lewis is born in San Francisco, CA. Lewis was the starting left fielder for three world championships with Boston (1912, 1915, and 1916) and played as part of the team’s “Million Dollar Outfield” for six seasons with Tris Speaker in center field and Harry Hooper in right field beginning in 1910.
Lewis is perhaps best remembered for a forgotten feature of Fenway Park known as “Duffy’s Cliff,” which was a ten-foot-high mound that formed an incline in front of the left field wall, better known today as the Green Monster. It extended from the left field foul pole over to the left field flag pole and permitted standing-room crowds, who commonly stood within a few feet inside the boundaries of fair territory during the early days of the 20th century, to see over each other’s heads during play.
During his tenure with the Red Sox, Lewis mastered the incline to the point that sports cartoons of the time depicted the celebrated flycatcher as a mountain climber making catches amid sheep and snowcaps. The mound was significantly lowered in 1934 as part of Tom Yawkey’s extensive Fenway Park renovation project and was eventually eliminated completely when the entire field was dug up and replaced following the 2004 season.
As for the man himself, beyond the value of his glove, Lewis batted .289 over eight seasons with the Red Sox with an OPS+ of 117 and he holds the frachise record for career sacrifice hits with 219. Arguably, his best season with Boston at the plate happened in 1912, when he scored 85 runs, batted in 109 runs, and led the American League with 31 sacrifice hits.