Date of birth: 3 February 1952
Primary position: Center Fielder
Elected to Red Sox Hall of Fame: 2002
Fred Lynn made his major league debut in September of 1974 and turned heads as he batted .419 with two home runs and 10 RBI in just 15 games; those numbers were just a prelude to the following season. His 1975 rookie campaign has never been matched since; after batting .331, hitting 21 home runs, knocking in 102 runs, and leading the league in doubles, runs score, and slugging percentage, Lynn became the first player to simultaneously win American League Rookie of the Year and MVP honors as he helped lead the Red Sox to the post-season for the first time in eight years.
Lynn also dazzled in the outfield, making sensational, acrobatic catches on an almost daily basis to earn the first of four Gold Gloves. Perhaps the biggest highlight of that amazing season came in June in Detroit when he drove in 10 runs with three home runs, a triple, and a single and collected 16 total bases, tying an AL record.
Lynn continued to enjoy success at the major league level despite sub-par efforts by his standards over the next few seasons. In 1979, he managed to top his numbers from his rookie campaign, batting a league-leading .333 with an amazing 39 home runs and 122 RBI, but finished a distant fourth in the MVP vote. Over his six-plus seasons in Boston, he averaged .308 and made All-Star appearances in every season.
Lynn left Boston after the 1980 season, longing to play in his native California; though he continued to average 20 home runs per season and finished with 306 for his career, he could never recapture the magic of his days with the Red Sox, as nagging aches and pains limited his playing time. He averaged just .263 at the dish over his last ten seasons and finally hung up his cleats after the 1990 season. What looked like a promising Hall of Fame career ended in disappointment and many would argue that perhaps the outcome may have been different had he remained in Boston.
Career Batting Statistics through 2018 Season
Awards and Recognition with Boston
Batting Champion (.333), 1979
Gold Glove Award (OF), 1975
Gold Glove Award (OF), 1978
Gold Glove Award (OF), 1979
Gold Glove Award (OF), 1980
Most Valuable Player Award, 1975
Rookie of the Year Award, 1975
Memorable Moments for Fred Lynn
- 5 June 1973 - With their second pick of the amateur draft, Boston selects Fred Lynn from USC.
- 15 September 1974 - In his first major league start, Fred Lynn hits a home run as Boston drops a 9-5 decision in Milwaukee.
- 18 June 1975 - Fred Lynn drives in ten runs with three home runs, a triple, and a single in a 15-1 blowout of Detroit at Tiger Stadium. The triple missed being a home run by three feet. The 10 RBI ties a franchise record and the 16 total bases ties an American League record.
- 29 October 1975 - Sensational Red Sox rookie outfielder Fred Lynn is overwhelmingly selected as the American League Rookie of the Year by the baseball writers. Lynn finishes just a half-vote shy of being the unanimous choice as one writer gives teammate Jim Rice a half-vote for first place.
- 26 November 1975 - Fred Lynn becomes the first ballplayer to win Most Valuable Player honors in the same season that he wins Rookie of the Year. The Red Sox outfielder receives 22 of 24 first-place votes.
- 13 May 1980 - Fred Lynn hits for the cycle in a 10-5 win over Minnesota at Fenway Park.
- 22 December 1980 - Boston postmark contracts for the 1981 season to Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk, two days after the due date, which allows the option for both players to declare free agency. Both eventually do so and the Red Sox lose two perennial All-Stars in one fell swoop.
- 23 January 1981 - Boston is forced to trade Fred Lynn to California after the team failed to mail a new contract to the former Rookie of the Year by the deadline due to an oversight by the front office. Lynn, along with pitcher Steve Renko, goes to the Angels in exchange for pitchers Frank Tanana and Jim Dorsey and left fielder Joe Rudi.