Did You Know – Red Sox Opening Day Home Runs

Hitting a round tripper on Opening Day, like hitting one in the World Series or an All-Star Game, is not an unusual feat, but doing it more than once is noteworthy in some respects.

Hitting a round tripper on Opening Day, like hitting one in the World Series or an All-Star Game, is not considered unusual, but doing it more than once is noteworthy in some respects. In the ninth inning of Tuesday afternoon’s 6-2 win for Boston over Cleveland, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit what proved to be his fifth career home run on Opening Day, his third with the Red Sox after hitting two with the Minnesota Twins earlier in his career. After what was a quiet spring (4-for-35 with three extra base hits), the sight of him launching one into the bleachers was a welcome sight to Red Sox fans looking for a positive start to the 2016 season.

The home run also proved to be number 504 in Big Papi’s career, which ties him with Eddie Murray for 26th all-time in MLB history. After Murray, his next target on the all-time list would be Gary Sheffield (509), followed by Mel Ott (511), Ernie Banks (512) and Eddie Matthews (also 512). He now also has 446 home runs with the Red Sox, which puts him six behind Carl Yastrzemski for second place (452) and well behind Ted Williams with 521, whom he has a chance to catch only in the career total category.

Continue reading “Did You Know – Red Sox Opening Day Home Runs”

Time Is Right To Retire Wade Bogg’s Number

The time is right to let bygones be bygones and give one final honor to one of the best players to ever wear a Red Sox uniform.

The Red Sox employ a rather strict policy related to the retirement of uniform numbers; to be considered, you need first to have played a minimum of ten years with the team and you must also be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

To date, only one person has received this honor who has not met these criteria; Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008, was recognized for more than 60 years of nearly uninterrupted time with the franchise as a player, a manager, coach, and instructor.

There is also one player who meets these criteria but whose number is absent from the façade in right field: former third baseman Wade Boggs.

Continue reading “Time Is Right To Retire Wade Bogg’s Number”

Did You Know? – Highest Season Win Totals in Red Sox Franchise History

Majestic Boston Red Sox 2013 AL East Division Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray
Majestic Boston Red Sox 2013 AL East Division Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt – Gray

With Boston’s 15-5 win Wednesday night in Colorado, the Red Sox now stand at 96-63 with three games to play this season.  The 96 wins matches the same number of games won by the 2007 world championship team. This is made even more remarkable given that the team won just 69 games last season, its worst season since 1965, when Boston limped to a record of 62-100.

Continue reading “Did You Know? – Highest Season Win Totals in Red Sox Franchise History”

Today In History – Tom Yawkey Purchases The Red Sox

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.

Continue reading “Today In History – Tom Yawkey Purchases The Red Sox”

Johnny Pesky, Former Red Sox Infielder, Passes Away at Age 92

Former Boston Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky, who was a loyal part of the Boston organization for more than 60 seasons, passed away today at the age of 92.  Pesky played eight seasons between 1942 and 1951, missing time between 1943 and 1945 serving in World War II, and also managed the club twice, first for two years between 1963 and 1964, and then briefly at the end of the 1980 season.

Continue reading “Johnny Pesky, Former Red Sox Infielder, Passes Away at Age 92”

Did You Know? – David Ortiz and His Home Run Totals

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.

Continue reading “Did You Know? – David Ortiz and His Home Run Totals”

Nomar Garciaparra to Retire as Red Sox Player Today

Is Nomar Garciaparra retiring?  Say it isn’t so.  At age 36, with several surgeries having limited his playing time in recent years, the last rock at the shortstop position in Boston is hanging up his uniform for good – maybe, maybe not – with a press conference this morning in Fort Myers.

The legendary Ted Williams touted “NO-mah” as the game’s next great player and he seemed destined for a Hall of Fame career.  First, he easily won Rookie of the Year honors in 1997, then followed that with a second-place finish in the MVP ballot in 1998 and two batting titles in two years (1999 and 2000).  Five times, he was named to the All-Star while with Boston, and he was often compared to other great shortstops of his time, including Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Tejada.

When Garciaparra returned as an Oakland Athletic last July to Fenway Park for the first time since being traded away in 2004, he received a lengthy standing ovation from an appreciative crowd, to which he tipped his cap and graciously clapped along with them.  It reminded us of the moment following a series-ending loss to Cleveland in the 1998 American League Division Series; as the Indians celebrated on the field by the visitor’s dugout, Garciaparra stepped back out from the Boston dugout, turned to the stands, and began clapping in genuine appreciation of the Red Sox fans that had followed the team all season and every season before then.

Boston is still searching for the answer at short while fans search for answers on why such a promising career ended too soon; some might say that Garciaparra is to this generation what Fred Lynn was to the last one and Tony Conigliaro was to the one before then.  Red Sox fans will always have a place in its collective heart reserved for Garciaparra, who gave all he had with the club for eight seasons, but we will always wonder what might have been for him.

Dom DiMaggio, Former Red Sox Center Fielder, Dies at 92

Dom DiMaggio, a seven-time All-Star Red Sox center fielder who played with the likes of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr, passed away Friday morning at the age of 92. Known as “the Little Professor” due to his glasses and his small frame, DiMaggio was the youngest of three brothers who played in the Major Leagues, which included Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio and Vince DiMaggio. He played eleven seasons in the majors, all with Boston, and like Williams and Pesky missed three years between 1943 and 1945 serving with the US Armed Services during World War II.

While his brother Joe is remembered for a 56-game hitting streak that remains unbroken since 1941, DiMaggio holds a record of his own – a 34-game streak set in 1949 – that still stands as the water mark for Boston. In his career, he batted .298 and finished with 1046 runs scored, 87 home runs, 618 RBI, and an OBP of .383; his best season came in 1950, when he batted .328 and led the league in triples (15), stolen bases (11), and runs scored (131). That same year, on 30 June, he and Joe both homered in the same game playing against each other, only the fourth pair of brothers to accomplish the feat, in a 10-2 win for Boston over New York in the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park. In 1946, after returning from active duty, he made his one World Series appearance following Boston’s first pennant in 28 seasons, and batted 7-for-27 with two runs scored and three RBI, including a two-run double that tied the score in the top of the eighth inning of Game Seven of the series. DiMaggio was also part of the inagural class enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995, where he again joined his teammates Williams, Pesky, and Doerr.

Book Review – Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends

So, what in fact happened one October afternoon in 1932 as the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees battled for the World Series title? Did the larger-than-life Babe Ruth really call his shot as legend has laid claim? That is just one story explored by baseball author and ESPN writer Rob Neyer in his latest book, Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends: The Truth, The Lies, and Everything Else.

Continue reading “Book Review – Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends”

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.