On the last play of Wednesday afternoon’s game in Oakland, Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis collected a ground ball from Athletics left fielder Jack Cust and recorded the out at first unassisted; in the process, he set a new major league record for consecutive error-free games by a first baseman with 194. That mark breaks the old mark held by former big leaguer Steve Garvey, who set the mark between June 1983 and April 1985 with the San Diego Padres. Youkilis also went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI single in Boston’s 5-0 win over Oakland.
In 2007, Youkilis broke Stuffy McInnis’s old team record of 119 games and then surpassed the old American League mark of 178 straight games by Mike Hegan. At season’s end, Youkilis not only finished with a 1.000 fielding percentage but was awarded a Gold Glove, the only Red Sox first baseman other than George “Boomer” Scott to win the award at that position. Oddly enough, Youkilis originally joined Boston as a third baseman in 2004 but transitioned to first base full-time in 2006, though he did have some minor league experience at that position.
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis strung together 135 errorless games and 1,094 errorless innings at first base during the 2007 regular season for a fielding percentage of 1.000, a feat of perfection that has been duplicated only once before in major league history. He has also played 190 consecutive errorless games in the regular season at first base, three shy of Steve Garvey’s major league record, and has easily surpassed the old Red Sox record (120 games by Stuffy McInnis) and American League record (178 games by Mike Hegan). For his efforts, American League managers and coaches last week honored the four-year veteran his first Rawlings Gold Glove award, one year after making the full-time switch from the third base position where he was raised as a professional player. He is the first Red Sox player to earn the honor since teammate Jason Varitek won the honor at the catcher’s position in 2005 and only the second Red Sox first baseman to be recognized, the other being George Scott, who won it three times between 1967 and 1971.
Since the awards were first handed out in 1957, 16 Red Sox players have captured the honor a total of 36 times. The first year the awards were given, only one award was made for both leagues, and Frank Malzone won the inaugural honor at third base. Five Boston players have won the award multiple times, with former outfielder Dwight Evans holding the team record with eight Gold Gloves won between 1976 and 1985 and Carl Yastrzemski capturing seven in his 23 seasons with the club. Nine times, the Red Sox have had more than one honoree in the same season; twice they have had three. Yastrzemski, Scott, and outfielder Reggie Smith all won at their positions in 1968 and Evans, outfielder Fred Lynn, and shortstop Rick Burleson each capture the honor in 1979. The last time the Sox had more than one winner in a single season came in 1990, when pitcher Mike Boddicker, the only Boston player to ever win a Gold Glove as a pitcher, and outfielder Ellis Burks both won. Gold Gloves have been at a premium for Boston players since averaging better than one per season between 1957 and 1985; catcher Tony Pena in 1991 had been the last Red Sox player to capture the defensive honor before Varitek ended a 14-year drought in 2005, giving the team a total of just five awards in the last 22 seasons.