As manager of the Washington Senators in 1933, at the age of 27, Joe Cronin led his team to a 99-53 record, winning the American League pennant before losing the World Series to the New York Giants in five games; Cronin ended that season with a .309 average and 118 RBI and was second to Philadelphia’s Jimmie Foxx for MVP honors.
Just two years later, Cronin was traded to the Red Sox to replace Bucky Harris as Boston’s field general. During the next seven seasons, Cronin split time between making game-day personnel decisions on the field and playing shortstop at an average rate of 136 games per season, earning MVP consideration in 1937 and 1938. He also drove in better than 100 runs three times in that span and made the American League All-Star roster five times. After years of lackluster teams, Boston improved dramatically in the standings, with winning seasons in all but one year under Cronin during this stretch.
With the arrival of rookie sensation Johnny Pesky in 1942, Cronin started to play fewer games, appearing in just 173 games between 1942 until his retirement from his playing career in 1945. The following season, now serving as full-time manager and with several of his All-Stars back from war, Cronin led the Red Sox to a record of 104-50 and the American League pennant before losing a seven-game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cronin managed just one more season with the Red Sox, compiling a team-record 1071 wins for Boston, and then moved to the front office, where he served for eleven more years. For his many accomplishments, Cronin was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1956 and is one of only seven former Red Sox players to have his number (4) retired by the team.