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.
Tonight marks Game No. 100 on the season for Terry Francona and the Red Sox, who will go for win number 63; that’s even more impressive when you consider that Boston started 0-6 and 2-10. Would that win total mark the most ever for the franchise over the first 100 games of a season? Believe it or not, no. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the 1946 team, led by Joe Cronin, won an astonishing 70 games in that same span on their way to 104 wins and the American League pennant. The 1912 team, which won a team record 105 games against 47 losses, won 68 games in its first 100 games and eventually the second World Series title as a franchise.
Not including this season, the following is a list of all Boston teams that have won at least 62 games in the team’s first 100 games:
Year Wins Final Record ---- ---- ------------ 1946 70 104-50 1912 68 105-47 1915 65 101-50 1903 64 91-47 1939 63 89-62 1978 63 99-64 1979 62 91-69
Three of the four teams – 1903, 1912, and 1915 – went on to win the World Series that fall. Three other teams – 1939, 1978, and 1979 – finished out of the playoffs, though the 1978 team did appear in a one-game playoff.
The Boston Red Sox announced Tuesday that, prior to Friday night’s game at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees, the team will retire number 6 in honor of former shortstop Johnny Pesky, whose name has been synonymous with the club for decades since lacing up his cleats as a rookie in 1942. With his number posted on the façade above the right field grandstand, Pesky will join Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9), Carlton Fisk (27), and Jackie Robinson (42) as the only players to have received this honor from the club. The honor will also be made one day before the legendary Red Sox figure celebrates his 89th birthday.
The move came as a surprise for most familiar with Boston’s long-standing policy for awarding this honor. Until yesterday, numbers have only been retired by the Red Sox if a player spends at least ten seasons in Boston and is then elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (Media outlets continue to state that a third criterion – a player had to finish his playing career with Boston – needed to be met. However, this was dropped to allow Fisk to have his number retired even though he spent the second half of his career in Chicago with the White Sox. A quick check of the official policy at redsox.com confirms this.) Team president Larry Lucchino, in acknowledging that an exception was being made in this instance, stated:
We inherited a set a rules that applied to this question of retiring numbers and we have looked at that and considered that to be useful but as guidelines rather than firm rules… Johnny Pesky’s career cries out as exceptional and its length of term and the versatility of his contributions – on the field, off the field, in the dugout, etc. – are such that we considered Johnny a worthy exception to the rules that were set down before.
As a rookie in 1942, the 22-year-old shortstop amassed an eye-popping 205 hits, tops in the majors, and batted .331, second only to teammate Ted Williams; his efforts were enough to place him third in voting for the American League MVP. After putting his career on hold and serving in the Navy for three years during World War II, Pesky returned in 1946 along with fellow veterans Williams and Dom DiMaggio to help his team finish first in the American League with a record of 104-50. His time away from the diamond had not diminished his abilities; he led the league with 208 hits and batted .335 that season, the third best average in the American League, to finish fourth in the MVP vote. In eight seasons with Boston, he batted .313 and amassed 1227 hits.
Since the end of his playing career in 1954, he has served in several capacities for the club, including stints as manager, broadcaster, coach, and scout. These days, he continues to serve as a special instructor and as an unofficial club ambassador, well-regarded today by fans young and old. He also has the distinction of having a Fenway Park feature, the right field foul pole, affectionately named “the Pesky Pole” in his honor.
Regarding the announcement, a clearly-humbled Pesky said:
I’m very flattered about the whole thing because I didn’t think I was in the Ted Williams or Bobby Doerr class. I played with some good guys and I’m quite flattered by this announcement and I’m really going to enjoy it.
,  Sox to retire Pesky’s number Friday. Boston.com, 23 September 2008.
19 July 1933 – On this day seventy-four years ago, Red Sox catcher Rick Ferrell hits a home run at Fenway Park off his brother Wes Ferrell, who is pitching for the visiting Cleveland Indians. However, Wes will return the favor with a home run of his own later in the game as the Indians edge the Red Sox, 8-7.
Rick, a future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, played 18 seasons in the major leagues, including five seasons with Boston, batting .302 with 16 home runs and 240 in a Red Sox uniform. He was named to the All-Star game four times with Boston, including as a starter at the inaugural Mid-Summer Classic in 1933, just two months after coming to the Red Sox in a trade with the St. Louis Browns. Younger brother Wes, who played 15 seasons in the majors, came to Boston himself less than a year later from Cleveland and twice won 20 or more games in four seasons with the Red Sox, including a career-high 25 games in 1935. Ferrell was also one of a select few pitchers who knew how to wield a bat; he set a major-league record for career home runs by a pitcher with 38, two more than his older brother Rick managed, including 17 with the Red Sox.
Despite the abilities of both players and in part due to Wes’s pronounced temperament, often leading to fiery confrontations with then-manager Joe Cronin, Boston traded Wes and Rick as a package to Washington in June of 1937, ending the Ferrell brothers’ association with the Red Sox.