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Three Players, Long-Time Broadcaster Earn 2014 Red Sox Hall of Fame Honors

The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is stacked with some impressive honorees, at least one who will be inducted into Cooperstown next year.

Nike Boston Red Sox 2014 Spring Training Grapefruit League Dri-FIT Performance T-Shirt - Red
Nike Boston Red Sox 2014 Spring Training Grapefruit League Dri-FIT Performance T-Shirt – Red

The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is stacked with some impressive honorees, at least one who will be inducted into Cooperstown next year. Announced by the team this morning, this year’s class includes pitchers Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, and radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione. The team also selected one of Martinez’s greatest single game pitching performances as this year’s featured moment.

The Red Sox Hall of Fame, opened in 1995, honors players who spent at least three years with the Red Sox and have been out of uniform as an active player at least three years. Non-uniformed honorees and the memorable moment are chosen by a unanimous vote of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Selection Committee, a 15-member committee of Red Sox broadcasters and executives, past and present media personnel, and representatives from The Sports Museum of New England and the BoSox Booster Club.

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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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Did You Know? – The Red Sox and Losing Seasons

The 2012 Boston Red Sox season is likely one that the organization and fans alike will want to soon forget.  In celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the team finished 69-93, which broke a stretch of 14 straight winning seasons.  Before that, the last Red Sox team to suffer through a losing season was in 1997, when first-year manager Jimy Williams and rookie Nomar Garciaparra ended the season with a disappointing 78-84 record.  The team also finished in last place for the first time since 1992, when another first-year manager, Butch Hobson, and pitcher Roger Clemens finished in seventh place in the American League East.

Continue reading “Did You Know? – The Red Sox and Losing Seasons”

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”

2012 Red Sox Opening Day Roster Set

With Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox set to square off against reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 PM this afternoon at Comerica Park, manager Bobby Valentine has announced his Opening Day roster (asterisk denotes starters).

Pitchers (13)
Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Daniel Bard, Josh Beckett, Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester*, Mark Melancon, Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla, Justin Thomas

Catchers (2)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia*, Kelly Shoppach

Infielders (6)
Mike Aviles, Adrian Gonzalez*, David Ortiz*, Dustin Pedroia*, Nick Punto, Kevin Youkilis*

Outfielders (4)
Jacoby Ellsbury*, Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross*, Ryan Sweeney*

On the disabled list to begin the season are outfielders Carl Crawford (left wrist) and Ryan Kalish (left shoulder) and pitchers Andrew Bailey (thumb), Chris Carpenter (right elbow), Rich Hill (left elbow), Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow), and Andrew Miller (left hamstring).  Crawford, Hill, Matsuzaka, and Miller begin the season on the 15-day DL, while Bailey, Carpenter, and Kalish are on the 60-day DL.

Red Sox Set for Opening Day and the 2011 Season

With great anticipation, the Boston Red Sox will open the 2011 season this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers.

With great anticipation, the Boston Red Sox will open the 2011 season this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers.  The revamped Sox, who last season missed the playoffs for only the second time under manager Terry Francona, have the baseball world abuzz as they are considered the pre-season favorite by many, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline, FOX Sports, and The Hardball Times, to win the World Series this fall.

The Opening Day lineup includes two of the newest Red Sox players, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford, as well as several familiar faces, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia, third baseman Kevin Youkilis, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and designated hitter David Ortiz.  On the mound will be Jon Lester, who is another pre-season media favorite as the 2011 Cy Young Award winner.

Here is the complete Opening Day roster for Boston (asterisk denotes Opening Day starters):

Starting Pitchers: Lester*, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Relief Pitchers: Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Papelbon, Dennys Reyes, Tim Wakefield, Dan Wheeler

Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia*, Jason Varitek

Infielders: Gonzalez*, Jed Lowrie, Pedroia*, Marco Scutaro*, Youkilis*

Outfielders: Mike Cameron*, Crawford*, J.D. Drew, Ellsbury*, Darnell McDonald

Designated Hitter: Ortiz*

Did You Know? – Red Sox Cy Young Winners

Baseball’s Cy Young Award was first introduced by MLB Commissioner Ford Frick in 1956 following the death of former Red Sox player and Hall of Fame pitcher Denton True “Cy” Young, who amassed 511 wins during his 22-year career, in 1955. Initially, it was given to a single pitcher chosen from the major leagues; in 1967, the new commissioner of baseball, William Eckert, announced that winners from each league, the American and the National, would be chosen.

In 53 years, three Red Sox pitchers have won a total of six awards; Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez. Lonborg was not only the first Boston pitcher to receive the honor, but he was the first pitcher honored by American league voters when the award was split between the leagues in 1967. Clemens won the first of seven total awards in 1986 and repeated as the honoree in 1987, the first since Baltimore’s Jim Palmer won back-to-back awards in 1975 and 1976. Clemens would win one more with the club in 1991 before winning four more as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays (1997 and 1998), New York Yankees (2001), and Houston Astros (2004). Martinez is the only other pitcher in franchise history to win the honor; he won in 1999 and 2000, considered two of the best seasons by a pitcher in modern baseball history, after winning the award with Montreal in 1997.

Red Sox pitchers have also finished twice in five separate votes. In 1990, Clemens finished with a 22-7 record, a 1.93 ERA, and 209 strikeouts, but lost to Oakland’s Bob Welch, who despite winning 27 games finished with an ERA+ nearly half that of Clemens. Martinez also finished twice in the vote during his Red Sox tenure, once in 1998 when he finished second to Clemens, then playing in Toronto, and again in 2002 when Oakland’s Barry Zito won the award. In 2004, Curt Schilling finished his first season in Boston with 21 wins, but was easily bested by Minnesota’s Johan Santana, who finished with a lower ERA and a higher strikeout total.

Most recently, Cleveland’s CC Sabathia finished 2007 with near-identical numbers (19-7, 3.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 209 SO, 143 ERA+) to Boston’s Josh Beckett (20-7, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 194 SO, 145 ERA+); the latter then went 4-0 in four starts during the 2007 postseason, while the former went 1-2 in the playoffs, with both loses coming against the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. However, as voting takes place before the postseason starts, Sabathia was named the winner with 19 first-place votes to eight for Beckett.

Former Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling Officially Retires

With “zero regrets,” former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announced his retirement Monday morning on his official blog hosted by sports radio station WEEI Boston (MA). The 42-year-old Schilling, who signed with Boston after being drafted in the second round of the 1986 amateur draft, spent sixteen seasons away from the Red Sox following a mid-season trade in 1998 before an off-season trade with Arizona in November 2003 brought him back into the fold with the self-imposed expectation that he would help the team win its first championship since 1918.

In four seasons with Boston between 2004 and 2007, Schilling went 53-29 with a 3.95 ERA, an average of 143 strikeouts per season, and an ERA+ of 121. He was also signed to play a fifth season but missed all of 2008 due to a shoulder injury. In total, he finished with 216 career wins, a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts. More importantly for the Red Sox, Schilling delivered as promised during the postseason. In 2004, Schilling went 3-1 during Boston’s march to its elusive championship, winning both Game Six of the ALCS and Game Two of the World Series with the tendon in his right ankle stabilized by an advanced surgical procedure and blood seeping through his sock in both games. Schilling would also finish second that season in the Cy Young vote to Minnesota’s Johan Santana.

Schilling also figured prominently in the 2007 postseason, going 3-0 in four starts, with a win in each series for Boston. In all, Schilling finished 11-2 in 19 starts and 133-1/3 innings pitched in his post-season career, making him one of the most successful pitchers in post-season history. His other highlights with the Red Sox include a one-hitter in 2007 in which he went 8-2/3 innings against the Athletics in Oakland before yielding a hit, the closest he came to pitching a no-hitter in his career, as well as career win number 200 in May of 2006, the 104th pitcher in major league history to reach that mark.

Did You Know? – Red Sox MVP Honorees

The 2009 season begins with second baseman Dustin Pedroia set to defend his title as American League Most Valuable Player, the first since former first baseman Mo Vaughn began the 1996 season in the same position. In team history, only ten Boston players have received the AL MVP award. The first was outfielder Tris Speaker, who received the Chalmers Award in 1912, created as a promotional gimmick by an automobile company owner, Hugh Chalmers, in recognition of a player from each league who proved himself as “…the most important and useful player to his club and to the league at large in point of deportment and value of services rendered.”[1] Speaker was one of only eight players recognized over a four-year span in which the honor was made, which included the awarding of a Chalmers Model 30 automobile for that player’s efforts. (The award was discontinued after the 1914 season due to diminished interest.)

Efforts by the Baseball Writers Association of America eventually led to the creation of the MVP award as it is recognized today, decided by 28 seasoned sportswriters using a positional voting system where each voter ranks his or her top ten players. Jimmie Foxx was the first Boston player recognized by the baseball writers who gave him the honor in 1938, though for him it was his third award after having been recognized twice before with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1932 and 1933. Ted Williams remains the only Red Sox player to have been named twice (1946 and 1949). Other winners have included Jackie Jensen (1958), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Fred Lynn (1975), Jim Rice (1978), and Roger Clemens (1986). Clemens remains the only Boston pitcher to earn the distinction, though since 1967 only seven pitchers have been so honored.

Of course, due to the subjective native of the MVP vote, Red Sox players have found themselves the focus of controversial outcomes, more often as the odd man out. Though Williams was honored twice in his illustrious career, there were also four instances in which he finished second in the voting where he might have been considered the more deserving candidate. In 1941, he batted .406, the last player to hit .400 or better in the regular season, but lost to New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio, who has amassed a 56-game hit streak that same year. The next year, he finished second again, this time to Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon, despite having won the batting Triple Crown with more hits in fewer at-bats, twice the number of home runs, and an OPS almost 250 point higher. In 1947, Williams again won the batting Triple Crown, the only player other than Roger Hornsby to win that recognition twice, yet he again lost to DiMaggio by a single point in the vote, again with far better numbers across the board. Finally, in 1957, he won the batting title with an impressive .388 average and hit 38 home runs while setting a modern-day record of reaching base in 16 consecutive at-bats, all at the age of 39, yet finished second once more to another legendary Yankees outfielder, Mickey Mantle.

Other Boston players who fell just shy in the voting include Pedro Martinez, who had one of the best seasons ever by a pitcher in modern baseball history and won the pitching Triple Crown and the Cy Young award. Yet, despite having more first-place votes, he lost to catcher Ivan Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers by a narrow 13-point margin in the vote. It was later discovered that two sportswriters, which included George King from the New York Post, had omitted Martinez from their ballots with the argument that the contributions made by pitchers were not significant enough to earn MVP consideration, though King had included two pitchers on his ballot the previous season. David Ortiz also fell just short of the honor in 2005 as he finished behind Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the vote. Though both players finished the season with impressive numbers, the argument was made that Ortiz, as a designated hitter, did not contribute as much to his team’s success as Rodriguez, so much that two sportswriters left Ortiz off their ballots.

On the flipside, Vaughn finished a mere eight points ahead of Cleveland slugger Albert Belle in the 1995 vote, despite Belle having far more impressive numbers on offense, including a higher number of home runs, runs scored, RBI, slugging percentage, and total bases; he had also become the first player in major league history to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same season that same year. Vaughn, however, had a far better relationship with fans and the media, whereas Belle routinely refused to grant interviews to reporters and had engaged in several controversial incidents with fans both at and away from the park. Ted Williams was also well-known for his sour relationship with the media, whom he mockingly referred to as the “kinights of the keyboard,” and, like Belle, may have been the reason in part for losing several close MVP ballots.

[1] Deane, Bill, Thron, John, and Palmer, Pete. Total Baseball. HarpersCollins Publishers, New York, 1993.

Did You Know? – Tim Wakefield

Since 1995, there has been one consistent presence in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse: pitcher Tim Wakefield, who currently stands as the longest tenured player in the organization. Oddly enough, he might never have seen a big league diamond if it weren’t for his ability to throw the knuckleball, a pitch that has almost no spin in flight, which causes it to float erratically from the pitcher’s hand into the catcher’s mitt. Drafted as an infielder by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988, a scout pulled him aside and told him that he didn’t have what it took to be a positional player above Double-A ball. Determined to play in the majors, Wakefield eventually punched his ticket as a mound jockey, pitching the ball in the same manner as Hall-of-Fame pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm, Phil Niekro, and Jesse Haines. After enjoying moderate success with the Pirates, struggles on the mound eventually led to his release; less than a week later, just as the strike-shortened 1995 season began, he signed as a free agent with Boston, where he has remained for 14 seasons, now the longest tenure of any pitcher in franchise history.

Through his last start Friday night against Toronto, an eventual 7-0 win over the Blue Jays, Wakefield has a record of 163-144 with an ERA of 4.32 and 1681 strikeouts in 364 career starts and 501 total appearances as a pitcher in Boston. He also owns 22 saves, including 15 he collected in 1999 after then-closer Tom Gordon went down with an injury at mid-season and before Derek Lowe was moved to that role by manager Jimy Williams. His win total puts him third in franchise history behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young, both with 192, and his total appearances ranks him second behind Bob Stanley, who had 637 trips to the mound over 13 seasons with the club. He is also third in innings pitched (2568-1/3), second in strikeouts with 1786, and second in games started with 364. Unfortunately, he also owns some less-desirable marks with the club, including the most home runs allowed (342), walks allowed (961), losses (144), and wild pitches (95).