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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.

Jim Rice Finally Gets Call from Hall of Fame

Years of waiting finally paid off for former Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice; on Monday, in his 15th and final year of eligibility, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with 76.4 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rice, a 16-year veteran who retired after the 1989 season, follows in the footsteps of two other Hall of Fame outfielders who spent their entire careers in Boston: Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Rice fell 16 votes shy of election in 2008 but earned seven more than the minimum this year and will join first-ballot inductee Rickey Henderson and Veterans Committee inductee Joe Gordon this summer for enshrinement in Cooperstown. Had he failed again to reach the minimum 75 percent for eligibility, his only chance for induction after this would have been through the Veterans Committee, which has proven to be a challenge for other former players not elected by the writers to find themselves added to the Hall.

Proponents had lobbied for Rice based on the fact that, between 1975 and 1986, Rice was one of the most feared hitters in the American League as he averaged .304 with 29 home runs and 106 RBI each season. He also finished in the top five of the MVP vote six times during that stretch, winning his only award in 1978 when he stroked 46 home runs, led the league with 139 RBI, and batted .315, just twenty points behind league-leader Rod Carew. He also collected an amazing 406 total bases that season, the first to have 400 or more total bases in a single season since Hank Aaron in 1959 and a feat that’s been matched since only six times.

Drafted and signed by Boston in 1971, he earned Triple Crown, Rookie of the Year, and MVP honors as a member of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 1974. The following season, Rice broke into the majors and, along with fellow rookie sensation and “Gold Dust Twin” Fred Lynn, helped Boston return the World Series for the first time in eight years (unfortunately, a wrist injury due to an errant pitch in September forced Rice to miss the remainder of the season as well as the 1975 Fall Classic between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds). Eleven years later, appearing for the only time in the playoffs, Rice hit a 3-run home run in the seventh game of the ALCS to help Boston win the AL pennant, then batted .333 and scored the lone run in a 1-0 Game 1 victory for Boston against New York in the World Series. He was also an eight-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger award winner in 1983 and 1984.