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.

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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”

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.

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).

Did You Know? – Red Sox Shutouts

With a no-hitter thrown in May and last Thursday night’s win over New York at Yankee Stadium, starting Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has pitched two shutouts in 2008, the first Boston pitcher to toss more than one in a season since Hideo Nomo threw two in 2001. He is also the first Red Sox southpaw to toss multiple shutouts in one season since Bruce Hurst threw three in 1987. As pitch counts have limited the opportunities for starting pitchers to throw a complete game, let alone toss a shutout, these feats have become more and more the rarity in today’s ball game. Over the past 25 seasons going back to 1984, only 12 pitchers have multiple shutouts to their credit as a Boston starter; of those pitchers, only seven have at least three and only two, Roger Clemens (38) and Hurst (11), have a double-digit total. Former ace Pedro Martinez is third in that span with eight, throwing four in 2000; fourth is Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, who tossed six over the 1984 and 1985 seasons and fifth is another former Red Sox lefty, Bob Ojeda, who recorded his five career shutouts with Boston in 1984.

In team history, Clemens is tied with another former Boston great, Cy Young, for the most shutouts in team history, although Young did that over eight seasons while Clemens accomplished his total over 13 seasons with the club. Standing alone in third place in Smoky Joe Wood with 28 over eight years with the club, while Luis Tiant is fourth with 26 over eight seasons and Dutch Leonard is fifth with 25 over six seasons. The single season record for the franchise is 10, accomplish by Young in 1904 and Wood in 1912; Babe Ruth is third with nine in 1916, and Clemens (1988) and Carl Mays (1918) are tied for fourth with eight.

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 – Pedro Martinez Debuts with Win in Oakland

01 April 1998 – On this day ten years ago, Pedro Martinez makes his debut with the Boston Red Sox, strikes out 11 batters, and allows only three hits in a 2-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland. Martinez, who had pitched the previous four seasons in Montreal, had signed as a free agent with Boston over the off-season in a deal that guaranteed six years and $72.7 million, with a club option for a seventh season at $17.5 million. The previous season, he had posted 17 wins in 31 starts with a 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts, easily winning the National League Cy Young award. With the game starting late on the West Coast at 10:40 PM ET, Martinez set down the first eleven batters he faced before giving up a line-drive single to left field to Ben Grieve. The only real threat came in the seventh when back-to-back singles followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out; however, facing his last two batters of the night, Martinez struck out catcher A.J. Hinch and center fielder Jason McDonald to keep Oakland off the board. Darren Bragg provided the only run the Red Sox would need in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Darren Lewis, and John Valentin added an insurance run in the seventh with a sac fly that plated Bragg.

Martinez would go on to finish second in the American League Cy Young vote that season behind former Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 33 starts. The following year, he joined Randy Johnson as the first pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues, the first of two consecutive awards for the ace. In seven seasons with Boston, Martinez would win 117 games against 37 losses, post a 2.52 ERA, and strike out 1683 batters in nearly 1400 innings of work. He would also be part of the club in 2004 that won Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years, winning Game Three of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals with seven scoreless innings of work. Through 2007, his won-loss percentage of .760 puts him first in franchise history, his win total puts him tied for sixth, and his strikeout total puts him second behind Clemens, though just three ahead of current Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.