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Today In History – Duffy Lewis Is Born

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.

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Today In History – Pedro Martinez Debuts With The Red Sox

01 April 1998 – On this day fifteen years ago, pitcher Pedro Martinez makes his debut with Boston and strikes out 11 Oakland batters while allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings; the Red Sox go on to win 2-0 over the Athletics at Networks Associates Coliseum.

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Today In History – Tom Yawkey Purchases The Red Sox

25 February 1933 – On this day eighty years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, Bob Quinn sells the Red Sox franchise for $1.5 million to Thomas Austin Yawkey, who had celebrated his 30th birthday four days earlier. Yawkey served as the sole owner of the team for the next 44 years and became a Boston institution as well as a pillar of Major League Baseball, though the legacy of his ownership was not without controversy.

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Today In History – Pedro Martinez Strikes Out Side On Nine Pitches

18 May 2002 – On this day ten years ago, Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning of a 4-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  To date, he is the only pitcher to accomplish this remarkable feat in a Boston uniform. Continue reading “Today In History – Pedro Martinez Strikes Out Side On Nine Pitches”

Today In History – Fenway Park Officially Debuts

20 April 1912 – On this day one hundred years ago, the Boston Red Sox played their first game at Fenway Park, defeating the New York Highlanders (later to be named the Yankees) 7-6 in 11 innings.  It is often noted that the opening was overshadowed in Boston by a much bigger news story at the time: the recent sinking of the RMS Titanic, a British passenger ship, in the North Atlantic Ocean five days earlier.

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Today In History – Harry Hooper Makes His Red Sox Debut

16 April 1909 – On this day one hundred years ago, future Hall-of-Fame outfielder Harry Hooper makes his major league debut for Boston in a 3-2 loss to the Senators in Washington. A graduate of St. Mary’s College in Oakland, CA with a degree in civil engineering, Hooper was lured to the Red Sox by owner John Taylor who, in addition to a generous salary, promised the youngster the opportunity to work on the design for a new ballpark he was planning for his club. Hooper never did contribute to the construction of Fenway Park, opened three years later, but his contributions as a player for 12 seasons with the Red Sox made him legendary.

Among his career accomplishments, which included being the only player to compete on all four Red Sox World Series teams between 1912 and 1918, he still stands today as the club leader in stolen bases with 300, 33 more than teammate and fellow flycatcher Tris Speaker, and triples with 130, 24 more than Speaker. He also remains in the top ten for games played (1647), at-bats (6270), plate appearances (7330), runs scored (988), hits (1707), total bases (2303), base on balls (826), singles (1301), times on base (2587), hit by pitch (54), and sacrifice hits (180). Despite hitting only 30 home runs in his time with Boston and 75 total in his career, he was also the first player to lead off both ends of a doubleheader with home runs, a feat matched only by Rickey Henderson 80 years later.

Hooper was also a top-notch defensive player, spending most of his career playing right field, and joined Speaker (center field) and Duffy Lewis (left field) in creating Boston’s “Million Dollar Outfield,” also known as the “Golden Outfield,” between 1910 and 1915. Besides being part of the greatest defensive outfields in the game’s history, all three were integral for Boston’s championship teams in 1912 and 1915. In the first series, Hooper batted .290 with two doubles and a triple, while Speaker batted .300 with a double and two triples while Lewis batted just .188 but hit three doubles and scored four runs. The second and final time they played (Speaker would be sent Cleveland following the season over a contract dispute), Hooper batted .350 with two home runs, while Lewis batted an astonishing .444 with a double, a home run, and five RBI and Speaker hit .294 with two runs scored. Hooper would finish his career with five solid years in Chicago, batting .302 with 45 home runs and another 75 stolen bases for the White Sox, and later joined Speaker in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 upon election by the Veterans Committee.

Today In History – Bill Carrigan Is Born

22 October 1883 – On this day one hundred twenty-five years ago, former Boston Red Sox player-manager William Francis Carrigan, better known as Bill Carrigan or “Rough” Carrigan, is born in Lewiston, ME. Carrigan spent ten years in professional baseball as a catcher for Boston between 1906 and 1916; in that span, he caught three no-hitters and played for three world championship teams, two of which he managed. He is the only manager in franchise history to lead Boston teams to back-to-back world championships and the only manager other than current skipper Terry Francona to win more than one World Series at the helm of the Red Sox.

Carrigan started his career as a platoon catcher for Boston in July of 1906 and caught a career-high 110 games in 1910. Never an offensive threat, he collected just over 500 hits and batted only .257 in his career. Midway through the 1913 season, he was asked to replace Jack Stahl as manager of the then-defending world champion Red Sox after it was turned down by Fielder Jones, who had guided the 1906 Chicago White Sox to a World Series title; like his predecessor, Carrigan assumed his position as player-manager. After a second-place finish in his first full season at the helm in 1914, he guided the team to a 101-50 record and the American League pennant before leading his team to a 4-1 World Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The following season, his team finished 91-63 and won its second straight World Series title over the Brooklyn Robins. Following that season, he retired from baseball, returned to his hometown of Lewiston, and began a second career in the banking business. In 538 games, he had compiled a 322-216 record as manager for a .599 winning percentage.

Ten years later, the Red Sox convinced Carrigan to manage the club once again, but fortunes had changed dramatically at that point for the once-proud club; the franchise had not enjoyed a winning season since its last championship in 1918 and the celebrated skipper could do nothing to reverse its fortunes given the lack of talent at his disposal. Three straight seasons that averaged 95 losses convinced Carrigan to permanently retire from baseball after the 1929 season, and he returned to Lewiston to spend the rest of his life, passing away in 1969 at the age of 85. In 2004, the Red Sox posthumously honored the former manager with induction into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Today In History – Cy Young Throws No-No at 41

30 June 1908 – On this day one hundred years ago, Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young, at the age of 41, throws his third career no-hitter against the Highlanders in New York as the visitors win 8-0. Four years earlier, the veteran pitcher and future Hall of Famer had thrown the team’s only perfect game to date against the Philadelphia Athletics; he had also pitched a no-hitter in 1897 with the Cleveland Spiders. Young started his afternoon on the mound by issuing a walk to Harry Niles on a 3-2 pitch, who was later thrown out on an attempted steal; no other batter reached first and, as a result, he faced the minimum number of batters possible in a game (27). By official definition, for a pitcher to be credited with a perfect game, no batter can reach base safely for any reason, so Young’s win was credited only as a no-hitter. In baseball history, only he and John Montgomery Ward have retired 27 consecutive batters in a game on two separate occasions; Ward’s feat was accomplished after he allowed a lead-off single to Blondie Purcell.

Today, Young stands as the second-oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a game; Nolan Ryan threw one at the age of 43 and then another one at age 44. He also stands as the second-old pitcher to throw a perfect game after throwing his at age 37; that record was only recently broken by Randy Johnson, who pitched one at age 40 in 2004. 1908 was his eighth and final season with the Red Sox; he would finish the season at 21-11 with a 1.26 ERA and 30 complete games to his credit. In total, Young won 192 games in a Boston uniform, which ties him with Roger Clemens for a club record, and finished his career with 511 victories, the most by any player in baseball history.

Today In History – Fenway Park Winning Streak Begins

25 June 1988 – On this day twenty years ago, a solid, if uneventful, 10-3 Boston win over Baltimore at Fenway Park begins a home winning streak that would stretch into August, a span of 24 games that saw the beginnings of “Morgan Magic.” After losing the first game of a three-game set to the Orioles, which puts them at 34-34 and fifth in the American League East, the Red Sox win the next five by a combined score of 40-11 over Baltimore and Cleveland. However, following a 4-8 road trip leading to the All-Star break that puts them at 43-42 and nine games out of first place, management decides that they have had enough. John McNamara, the 1986 American League Manager of the Year who had led that Red Sox squad to the World Series, is fired and replaced by interim manager “Walpole” Joe Morgan.

Morgan had managed Boston’s AAA club in Pawtucket for nine seasons between 1974 and 1982, then served two years as a scout before being brought on as a coach for Boston in 1985; this was to be his first and only major league managing position. Boston’s post-All-Star break schedule starts off with eleven games at home; the Sox win in Morgan’s debut, 3-1 over Kansas City, and then proceeded to come out on top night after night at Fenway. When the homestand ends, Boston has moved into third place and sits just 1-1/2 games out of first place; the Sox have also strung together 16 straight wins in front of the home crowd. Boston then takes the first game of a quick road trip to Texas before a 9-8 loss to the Rangers end the 12-game win streak for the Sox.

The defeat does nothing to slow down the Red Sox or Morgan, who has the interim tag removed by the front office. Taking two-of-three against Texas, Boston returns home and wins six straight to improve to 19-1 under its new manager; these efforts on the field also moves the club into a tie for first place with Detroit while the Fenway faithful have enjoyed 22 straight wins at home. Morgan Magic becomes synonymous with the resurgence of a team who seemed out of the race for the postseason only one month earlier.

Back on the road, Boston slips for the first time under Morgan with seven losses in nine games, including four straight in Detroit to start the trip, but the Red Sox exact revenge a week later, opening a three-game home series with a 9-4 win over the Tigers. The next day, 13 August, Boston thumps its American League East rival by a score of 16-4, and the result gives the Red Sox an unprecedented 24-game winning streak. Though Boston’s stretch of luck ends the next day with an 18-6 loss in the series finale, the Red Sox go on to take the American League East title for the second time in three years.

Today In History – First-Pitch Home Run for Rookie LeFebvre

10 June 1938 – On this day seventy years ago, Boston Red Sox rookie pitcher Bill LeFebvre makes his major league debut a memorable one as he hits a home run on the first pitch he sees over the left-field wall at Fenway Park, the only one of his career. LeFebvre, who had just recently graduated from Holy Cross College, is less effective on the mound, however; he goes four innings in relief and gives up six runs on eight hits, including two gopher balls, as Boston is bested by the Chicago White Sox, 15-2. LeFebvre returned to the minors shortly after that and would not be called up again until the following summer. On the mound, he would eventually finish his career with a 5-5 record and a 5.03 ERA over four seasons, two with Boston in 1938 and 1939 and two with the Washington Senators in 1943 and 1944, appearing as a major league replacement player during World War II. His bat proved only slightly more effective, hitting .276 in 87 career at-bats with eight runs scored, 11 RBI, and a .382 OBP.

In Red Sox history, only two other players have hit home runs in their first professional at-bat. On 22 April 1946, Eddie Pellagrini, a 28-year-old rookie shortstop and Boston College alumnus, comes in during the fifth inning to replace an injured Johnny Pesky and then goes deep in the seventh inning to break a 4-4 deadlock as the Red Sox win 5-4 over the Senators. On 19 May 1962 versus the Los Angeles Angels, catcher Bob Tillman also sends one out of Fenway Park in the fourth inning but Boston loses 6-5 in ten innings. Officially, the freshman had appeared as a pinch-hitter four days earlier in Baltimore in the ninth inning and then led off the bottom of the second that day but, in both instances, Tillman had drawn a walk, meaning that he had no official at-bats to that point.