On Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit career home run number 400, making him the 49th player in MLB history to reach this milestone. It was also his 342nd home run in a Boston uniform, which ranks him fifth all-time in team history behind Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452), Jim Rice (382), and Dwight Evans (379). “Big Papi” also ranks second behind Manny Ramirez in number of at-bats per home run at 14.7, just ahead of Jimmie Foxx and Williams.
In a move reminiscent of the trade that sent former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs just before the 2004 trading deadline, Boston made a three-way trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers that sent future Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Manny Ramirez out west to join Garciaparra and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre in L.A., while the Sox received Jason Bay from Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Brandon Moss and reliever Craig Hansen. The Pirates also received two players from the Dodgers to complete the deal, third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris.
Ramirez, who earlier this season hit career home run number 500 to become just the third player to reach that mark in a Boston uniform, had recently and publicly voiced his unhappiness with team management for failing to pick up his option for the 2009 season; he had even offered to waive his option to void the trade as a 10/5 player (ten years in the league, five years with the same club). In the end, the Red Sox decided that it was better to part ways with the disgruntled slugger, who was batting .299 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI through action on Wednesday; in return, they get the 29-year-old Bay, who was batting .282 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI to this point in the season with the Pirates. Bay is expected to join the club in time for the opener of a three-game weekend series with the Oakland Athletics beginning Friday night at Fenway Park and will play left field in front of the Green Monster where Ramirez stood for many years.
Despite the ugly departure of the eight-time Boston All-Star, Ramirez will be remembered as one of the greatest right-handed batters in club history. Over seven-plus seasons, the eccentric flycatcher hit 274 home runs, which currently places him fifth all-time amongst Boston sluggers past and present, at an amazing rate of 14.4 at-bats per home run. His other numbers with the club speak for themselves; amongst franchise career leaders, he ranks ninth all-time in batting average (.312), sixth in runs batted in (868), fifth in on-base percentage (.411), and fourth in slugging percentage (.588). The respect opposing pitchers had for Ramirez also had a hand in building the career of David Ortiz; after a sub-par start to his career in Minnesota, Ortiz joined the Red Sox in 2003 and, with the perennial All-Star hitting behind him, developed into one of the most feared left-handed power hitters in the game. Eventually, the two sluggers became one of the greatest one-two punches in recorded baseball history, hitting a combined total of 422 home runs in five-plus seasons together; the two also combined over 40 times for home runs in the same game, the most by two teammates over that span.
Notably, Ramirez was at his best when it counted most for the Sox: the post-season. In 165 at-bats over nine playoff series, he batted .321, averaging .375 or better four times, hit 11 home runs, drove home 36 runs, and even won World Series MVP honors in the 2004 Fall Classic batting .412 with a home run and four RBI. In part due to his efforts, the Red Sox won two world championships in four years after the team went 86 years between titles.
Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game was first played in 1933 at old Comiskey Park in Chicago and future Hall of Fame catcher Rick Ferrell became the first (and only) player from the Red Sox named to the American League team. Since then, a total of 97 players have made 257 appearances representing Boston. The player who has made the most appearances for Boston is Ted Williams, who played on 19 All-Star teams between 1940 and 1960; 12 times, he was named the starting left fielder for the Junior Circuit representatives, also a team record. In second place is Carl Yastrzemski, who was named to 18 All-Star squads and started seven games at three different positions; left field, center field, and first base. Bobby Doerr is third with nine appearances and five starting roles, while Wade Boggs and Jim Rice each represented Boston eight times, Boggs starting seven times at third base and Rice starting four times in the outfield.
With regards to the number of All-Stars named from Boston in a given season, the 1946 squad includes eight All-Stars: Williams, Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Boo Ferriss, Mickey Harris, Johnny Pesky, Hal Wagner, and Rudy York. Three times, the Red Sox sent seven players: 1977, 1978, and 2002. Twice, they sent six players: 1949 and 2007. Only ten times has the requisite single representative been named from Boston, most recently as 2001 when perennial All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez was sent to Safeco Field in Seattle to represent the Red Sox in his first season with the club.
When career home run number 500 left the bat of Boston Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez on 31 May versus the Orioles in Baltimore, two things were made clear. The first is that he is all but assured a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown when he makes his first appearance on the ballot; given the likelihood that he will play another four years, in Boston or elsewhere, that places him in line for 2018, so be sure to reserve your tickets now. The only question might be how they are going to design in those long-flowing dreadlocks he wears today, but I digress. The second is that when the time comes for the powers that be at the Hall to chose what cap Ramirez will be fashioned atop those dreads, it’s all but assured that he will be sporting the spoked “B” that he wears on his cap today as a member of the Red Sox.
Besides winning the final game of a home series against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park this afternoon, 11-8, to complete a four-game sweep, the game also featured grand slams from Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew and third baseman Mike Lowell in the second and sixth innings, respectively. Drew’s home run came after Manny Ramirez, Lowell, and Kevin Youkilis hit consecutive singles off starter Brian Bannister, his third career grand slam. Lowell’s base-clearing blast came with two outs after the Royals intentionally walked a struggling Ramirez, who remains stuck on 498 career home runs; it was Lowell’s sixth career slam and his third since joining Boston.
It marked the first time since 2003 that the Red Sox hit two grand slams in a single game when Bill Mueller hit grand slams from both sides of the plate on 29 July, the first player in major league history to accomplish the feat. The last time two separate Boston players hit grand slams in the same game was in 1995 when former infielder John Valentin and first baseman Mo Vaughn did it on the road at Yankee Stadium on 02 May, accounting for the only runs in an 8-0 shutout of New York. The last time it happened at Fenway was nearly 24 years ago when Bill Buckner and Tony Armas each hit one off Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris in the first and second inning, respectively, of a 12-7 win.