Denton True "Cy" Young -- More commonly known as "Cy," the big right hander spent nearly 20 years in the big leagues and set the pitching standard for all of baseball to follow. He was the only pitcher in baseball's first 100 years to win 500 games, including three no-hit shutouts and a perfect game on May 5, 1904.
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More commonly known as "Cy," the big right hander spent nearly 20 years in the big leagues and set the pitching standard for all of baseball to follow. He was the only pitcher in baseball's first 100 years to win 500 games, including three no-hit shutouts and a perfect game on May 5, 1904.
"Of all the 879 games I pitched in the big leagues," Young said of his perfect game against the Philadelphia Athletics, "that one in Boston stands clearest in my mind."
Though he only led the majors in victories once in his career, Young posted mind-boggling numbers. He completed 751 games, pitched 7,356 innings and threw over 300 innings a year for 15 years; all this while pitching typically on two days rest, sometimes even one.
Known for his durability, the Ohio farmboy's name on modern baseball's annual award to the top pitchers in baseball pay tribute to his greatness. He died in 1955 at the age of 88.
In his eight years with Boston, Cy Young posted a 192-112 mark. No pitcher wearing a Red Sox uniform has come close to that record.
Originally with Cleveland in the National League from 1890-1898, Young racked up 25 or more wins in each year. When Young was transferred to St. Louis, which, like Cleveland, was owned by James Robinson, he complained that, "It's too damn hot there." And thus the Red Sox picked him up at age 34 where he played from 1901-1908.
Young lived up to the hype his first year in Boston, posting a 33-10 record, a 1.62 ERA, 5 shutouts and 158 K's. In 371 innings he walked a mere 37 batters.
Tris Speaker -- "Spoke" was born in a center fielder's mold, which he broke soon after he retired in 1928. Nobody manning center field has been able to recreate it since.
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"Spoke" was born in a center fielder's mold, which he broke soon after he retired in 1928. Nobody manning center field has been able to recreate it since.
Tristram "Tris" Speaker had all of the tools which he used to be the greatest of all time to field his position (with all due respect to Mantle and DiMaggio). Blessed with blazing speed and a cannon of an arm, Speaker played so shallow in center he frequently acted as an extra infielder. On several occasions he turned unassisted double plays. "'Spoke' was something extra special," said the great Babe Ruth. "Only those who played with or against him really appreciated what a great player he was."
"In my Red Sox pitching days, I would hear the crack of the bat and say, 'There goes the game.' But Tris would turn his back to the plate, race for it out to the fences and at the last moment make a diving catch. Not once, but a thousand times."
"I figured that 98 percent of all safe hits to the outfield drop in front of the outfielders," Speaker said after his playing days. "Only two percent go over their heads or between them. That's why I played close in."
Teamed with Harry Hooper in right and Duffy Lewis in left, Speaker was one third of what many consider to be the greatest defensive outfield of all time.
His greatest moment came in the 1912 World Series against the New York Giants. Down 2-1 in the 10th inning of the final game with one man on, Speaker lofted a foul ball between home and first. It would have been an easy out for first baseman Fred Merkle but Giants' pitcher Christy Mathewson called for catcher Chief Myers to make the play. Merkle made a last-minute attempt, got a glove under it, but couldn't hang on. The play became known as "Merkle's Muff," as Speaker used his new life to hit a game-tying single and the Sox later went on to win the game and the Series.
"Spoke's" numbers speak volumes of his talent: his 448 lifetime assists still stand as a record, his .344 lifetime batting average was notched over a 22-year playing career and nobody has even come close to threatening his 793 career doubles. Speaker set major league records in 1909 and 1912 by gunning down 35 baserunners.
What isn't in the record books, however, are the number of runners who didn't dare run against him.
Smokey Joe Wood -- He arrived in Boston at the end of the 1908 season with a load of talent in his right arm, making him the successor of the great Cy Young.
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He arrived in Boston at the end of the 1908 season with a load of talent in his right arm, making him the successor of the great Cy Young.
Purchased from Kansas City, "Smokey" Joe Wood lived up to all of the promise that surrounded his name. His record for his rookie year was only 1-1, but the victory he notched was a shutout.
By the 1911 season, Wood was smoking and he showed his golden arm for the baseball world to see. His 23-17 record that year included a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns on July 29. He also recorded 15 strikeouts in one game -- a record which wouldn't be broken until Boston's Bill Monbouquette fanned 17 in 1961. In 1912, his 34-5 record was the best in the league.
Smokey" Joe's most memorable game came on September 6, 1912. Carrying a 13-game winning streak, the Washington Senators came to town and challenged the Red Sox to throw their bright, young talent a day ahead of his scheduled start against their staff's ace: Walter "Big Train" Johnson. Johnson's record-setting 16-game consecutive win streak had just been snapped. Wood accepted the challenge and the newspapers went wild. They compared the two hurlers to prize fighters.
In the sixth inning, Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis traded doubles off of Johnson and scored a run. It would be the only time either team crossed the plate that afternoon as Wood won his 14th straight. "That was the only game I remember at Fenway Park, or anywhere else for that matter," Wood said after retiring. "The fans were practically sitting along the first baseline and third baseline." Wood went on to notch two more wins, tying Johnson's 16-game record, before losing.
While fielding a bunt in July of the 1913 season in Detroit, Wood slipped on wet grass and broke his thumb. Many speculate he was rushed back into the lineup too quickly, for though he still possessed tremendous speed with his fastball, it typically took him weeks to recuperate. He posted respectable numbers the following three years but never again topped the 20-win plateau. His next best year was 1915 when he posted a 15-5 record. Because of his ailing arm, "Smokey" Joe took up playing the outfield for a number of seasons. But the Red Sox eventually sold him to Cleveland.
Though he really only had that one true great season with the Red Sox, Boston remembered with him a standing ovation on Old Timers Day at Fenway Park in 1984, nearly 75 years after the 1912 season.
Joe Wood was 94 that day and he was happy that Boston remembered him as "Smokey."
Fenway Park Opens. Built on his own land in the Fenway section of Boston, John Taylor, moved his Boston Red Sox from the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which they leased, to Fenway Park in 1912. The new stadium was built specifically for the Red Sox.
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The 1912 Boston Red Sox couldn't have picked a better way to christen their new ballpark.
Built on his own land in the Fenway section of Boston, John Taylor, moved his Boston Red Sox from the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which they leased, to Fenway Park in 1912. The new stadium was built specifically for the Red Sox.
The season opener was delayed two days by rain and when the New York Highlanders (who later became known as the Yankees in 1913) touched up starter Buck O'Brien for three runs in the top of the first, the "Fenway Faithful" numbering 27,000 must have been praying for more rain that Saturday afternoon. But the Home Town Team didn't disappoint their fans as they cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom half of the first.
The Highlanders got to O'Brien again in the third inning for two more runs improving their lead to 5-1. But the Sox wouldn't quit. As O'Brien was replaced by Charley Hall in the fourth, the Sox started to heat up. They tagged New York for three runs in the fourth, added another in the sixth and traded runs in the eighth.
The game was knotted at six after nine innings.
Second baseman Steve Yerkes, who put up an impressive 5-for-6 performance batting No. 2, got into scoring position in the 11th inning. Tris Speaker ended the three hour and 20 minute game by knocking in Yerkes for a 7-6 victory. The big win was kept off the front page due to the sinking of the Titanic.
The 1912 Red Sox went on to post their best record ever: 105-47, (a mark which stands today). They also beat the New York Giants that year in the first true World Series match of the National and American League champions.
One writer called it "Louis and Dempsey in spiked shoes." Walter Johnson was the champion and "Smokey" Joe Wood was the challenger in one of the most hyped pitching matchups in baseball history.
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One writer called it "Louis and Dempsey in spiked shoes." Walter Johnson was the champion and "Smokey" Joe Wood was the challenger in one of the most hyped pitching matchups in baseball history. "Big Train" Walter Johnson was the legendary Washington Senator fireballer, and Wood was the new kid on the block. Earlier that year Johnson won 16 straight games, and now Wood was in the middle of a 13-game streak.
Wood was scheduled to pitch on Saturday, but the Senators challenged the Red Sox to throw Wood against Johnson. The press went wild in anticipation of this pitching duel. The two players were compared in "tale of the tape" fashion, with height, weight, biceps, triceps all being compared. The brand new Fenway Park had to be altered to accomodate the crowd. Parts of the outfield were roped off to allow more standing room. In fact, the crowd spilled over into foul territory forcing the players out of the dugout in order to see the action.
The game lived up to all the hype as "Smokey" Joe beat the "Big Train" 1-0. The Sox scored the only run with two outs in the sixth when Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis hit back-to-back doubles off Johnson. It was one of the many games that the "Big Train" lost 1-0 while playing for a terrible Washington Senator team.
Babe Ruth -- You'll rarely find a name in baseball recognized by so many people. From his portly physique to his legendary swing, to his affection for fans, George Herman "Babe" Ruth has often been called the best baseball player of all time.
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You'll rarely find a name in baseball recognized by so many people. From his portly physique to his legendary swing, to his affection for fans, George Herman "Babe" Ruth has often been called the best baseball player of all time.
Though many baseball fans remember his accomplishments in pinstripes, keen observers will recall the "Babe" started his major league baseball career with the Boston Red Sox -- as a pitcher, in fact.
For $8,000 in 1914, the Red Sox purchased catcher Ben Egan, right hand pitcher Ernie Shore and 19 year-old "Babe" Ruth from the Baltimore Orioles, which was then a minor league franchise. The Orioles had discovered the young Ruth while he was enrolled at St. Mary's School, a Baltimore institution for wayward boys which had a strong athletic program. At 6' 2" and 200 pounds (reportedly all muscle in his youth), Ruth was a large presence with tremendous ability. He excelled on the mound, hit with power at the plate and showed agility in the outfield. He was the complete package.
When the big lefthander took to the mound for the Sox he threw with terrific velocity. In 1915 he went 18-8 for the Sox and along with Dutch Leonard, Ernie Shore, "Rube" Foster and "Smokey" Joe Wood, the staff combined for a league-leading low ERA of 1.49. When it was his turn in the pitching rotation, Ruth added some punch to the offense hitting .315 with four home runs that year (three off the league lead) in 92 at-bats. With the likes of Duffy Lewis, Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker, Larry Gardner, Everett Scott, Dick Hoblitzell and "Babe" Ruth the Sox would go on to win the World Series in 1915, 1916 and 1918.
During those late teens, Ruth led the pitching staff, especially in 1916 with his 23-12 record and 1.75 ERA. His 29 2/3 scoreless innings in World Series play was a record that went unmatched until 1961. "Home runs didn't provide 'Babe' with his biggest thrill in baseball," his wife said. "The 29 consecutive scoreless innings he pitched in World Series competition for the Red Sox was the exploit he cherished most."
"Babe Ruth probably gave me more trouble than any other left-hand pitcher," said premiere hitter of the era Ty Cobb. "He would have been the greatest left-hander of the generation if he hadn't moved to the outfield."
And his offensive numbers were just as impressive. The "Babe" hit .325 in 1917, .300 in 1918 and .322 in 1919 while bashing 43 homeruns in that three-year span. In 1919 he led the league with 114 RBI, 103 runs scored and 29 home runs (which more than doubled his total from the previous year).
Boston embraced their young superstar, and the "Babe" was always quick to tip his cap and wave to the crowd, making him all the more endearing to fans.
In a poignant ceremony in September of 1993, the Red Sox invited the family members of the 1918 World Series team back to Fenway Park. Due to the World War I efforts overseas in 1918, the World Champion Red Sox became the only team in baseball history to never receive a pin commemorating their accomplishment. The Red Sox welcomed 18 relatives of the 21-man roster back to the park to receive their World Series pin.
Among them was Julia Ruth Stevens, the daughter of "Babe" Ruth.
The 1915 World Series was marked by the strong hitting performances of the legendary Sox outfield of Duffy Lewis, Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper. After dropping Game 1, the Sox won the next four to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies for the championship.
Babe Ruth was the season and World Series hero, with a 23-12 regular season record and a 1.75 ERA. In Game 2 of the Series, Ruth pitched a 14-inning, complete game 2-1 win against the Brooklyn Dodgers, while the Sox went on to take the Series four games to one for the second straight year. The Sox played their World Series games in 1915 and 1916 in the new and larger capacity National League Braves Field on Commonwealth Avenue, which held 40,000 fans.
Babe Ruth extended his streak to 29 2/3 scoreless World Series innings, a record that stood until 1961, and also tied for the league lead with 11 home runs. In the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Ruth and Carl Mays each won two games to lead the Sox to their fourth world championship in seven years.
Babe Ruth is sold to the New York Yankees.
Tom Yawkey -- Tom Yawkey took over a struggling Boston franchise in 1933 and spent the following four decades building a successful ballclub that mirrored the passion of its owner.
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Tom Yawkey took over a struggling Boston franchise in 1933 and spent the following four decades building a successful ballclub that mirrored the passion of its owner.
The revered sportsman had a strong financial backing, but lived with the heart and admirable disposition of a simple fan of the game. He cared for his players, mixing the emotion of a cheering spectator with the business smarts of a successful major league owner. And Boston loved him for it.
At age 30, Yawkey took the reins from the struggling Bob Quinn with a desire to guide the Red Sox back onto the winning path. He hired Eddie Collins away from Philadelphia to become the team's vice-president and general manager and then dipped into his pocket, as he did many times in Boston, to bring a solid squad to Fenway Park.
Yawkey purchased the contract of catcher Rick Ferrell and followed by acquiring speedy Billy Werber. The moves helped Boston climb out of the basement and marked the beginning of a process whose goal was regaining the team's historical winning form.
Yawkey followed by picking up hard-nosed pitchers Lefty Grove and Wes Ferrell. He brought Joe Cronin and Jimmie Foxx to Boston a few years later. The moves brought immediate success to the Red Sox organization as the club continued to rise in the standings.
The process continued for 44 years.
By 1976, Tom Yawkey had turned a floundering club into a winning franchise that annually contended for championships. He brought Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski to Fenway Park and showed an off-the-field compassion for his ballplayers often lacking in major league owners. He was a regular guy that loved baseball, and a businessman that could build a champion.
Lefty Grove -- He came to the Red Sox with a resumé that was as impressive as the fastball his left arm uncorked.
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He came to the Red Sox with a resumé that was as impressive as the fastball his left arm uncorked. A member of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1925-1933 (he didn't make the big leagues until he was 25), Grove led the American League in strikeouts for seven consecutive years (1925-1931). Nine times he led AL pitchers with his stingy ERA in his 17-year career. Only two other pitchers led the league in ERA as many as five times.
Known for his ferocious temper (which included kicking buckets, screaming at teammates and re-arranging locker rooms), Grove came to the Red Sox for $125,000 with lefthanded pitcher "Rube" Walker and second baseman Max Bishop when Connie Mack sought financial relief with his Philadelphia A's. It was quite a steal for Boston to pick up a pitcher who posted 20 wins or better from 1927 through 1933, including 31 wins in 1931. His winning percentage led the league five times and four times he led in wins. In that same magical year of 1931, he tied "Smokey" Joe Wood's and Walter "Big Train" Johnson's record of 16 consecutive wins. A misjudged fly ball by a substitute fielder accounted for the winning run crossing the plate and the end of the streak.
Due to arm problems, Grove's first year with the Sox with new owner Tom Yawkey was a struggle -- so much so that Connie Mack offered Tom Yawkey a refund. Yawkey kindly declined the offer as Grove pitched to an 8-8 record, the first time he failed to reach 20 wins since 1926. Despite the setback, Grove was back to form in 1935, posting a 20-12 mark and a league-leading 2.70 ERA.
With his overpowering fastball and temperamental days behind him, Grove became a smarter pitcher as his career progressed. He went 17-12 in 1936 for Boston, 17-9 in 1937, 14-4 in 1938 and 15-4 in 1939. In four of his eight years with the Red Sox he led the league in ERA.
On July 25, 1941, at 41-years old, "Lefty" Grove put the finishing touches on his spectacular career. Pitching through nine innings and 90-degree heat, Grove notched his 300th win in a 10-6 win over Cleveland and became the fifth all-time winningest pitcher in baseball history.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.
Joe Cronin -- If ever there was a man who deserved to be called "Mr. Baseball," it was Joe Cronin. His playing career as a shortstop began in 1926 in Pittsburgh. In 1928, Cronin joined the Washington Senators and was appointed player/manager in 1933, capturing his first pennant that year.
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If ever there was a man who deserved to be called "Mr. Baseball," it was Joe Cronin.
His playing career as a shortstop began in 1926 in Pittsburgh. In 1928, Cronin joined the Washington Senators and was appointed player/manager in 1933, capturing his first pennant that year. He continued that role the following year in Boston when new Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey looked to toughen up his club, purchasing the hard-hitting Cronin for $250,000. The Sox named him general manager in 1947; by 1959 he was the president of the American League. His ascent through baseball's ranks pays tribute to his love of the game.
Cronin was a seven-time all-star at shortstop and led the American League in fielding at that position in 1931 and 1932. He posted more put-outs and double plays than any other shortstop in the A.L. in 1930, 1931 and 1932. Cronin was named League MVP in 1930 and retired from baseball with a .302 lifetime batting average.
In 1943, near the end of his playing days, he demonstrated his toughness with the bat as a pinch hitter. Cronin set an American League record by belting five pinch-hit homeruns -- a record that still stands. His playing days ended at Yankee Stadium on April 19, 1945 when his spikes caught second base as he attempted to run through the bag to third, fracturing his leg.
As a manager for 13 seasons, Cronin amassed 1,071 wins, participated in 12 All-Star Games and led the Sox to the 1946 pennant. When he was told he was going to Boston, Cronin said, "I'm delighted. Boston is one of the greatest sports towns in the world. A fellow with an Irish name like mine ought to get along there."
In his 11 seasons with the Sox, Cronin hit over .300 seven times, drove in over 90 runs six times, and scored 90 or more runs five times.
How could Boston not like a guy like that?
At first glance it would appear Jimmie Foxx and Fenway Park were made for each other. In fact, on his arrival in Boston after owner Tom Yawkey purchased the big first baseman from Philadelphia, Foxx said, "My dream has come true."
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At first glance it would appear Jimmie Foxx and Fenway Park were made for each other. In fact, on his arrival in Boston after owner Tom Yawkey purchased the big first baseman from Philadelphia, Foxx said, "My dream has come true." Foxx was a mainstay in the middle of the lineup from 1936-1942.
As powerful a right-handed hitter as there ever has been, Foxx became an immediate threat to the Babe's record of 60 homers in one season when he joined Boston.
Evident by the 58 homers he hit in 1932 for the A's, Foxx did not need the help of Fenway's short left field. Ted Williams on Foxx: "Next to DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx was the greatest hitter I ever saw. With all those muscles, he hit drives that sounded like gunfire."
Commonly referred to as "the most liked man in baseball," "Double XX" provided the Red Sox with the bona-fide star they had lacked since Ruth's departure. In 1938, Foxx gave the Red Sox the kind of season they were looking for as he won his third MVP. Foxx set Boston records for home runs (50) and RBIs (175) in his MVP season. Even after the careers of Williams, Yastrzemski and Rice, those numbers remain tops in Red Sox history.
Often overlooked when all-time teams are compiled, Foxx has to be considered along with Lou Gehrig as the top two first basemen ever. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951. When he retired, Foxx trailed only Babe Ruth in career home runs with 534. Not just a slugger, Foxx won the triple crown in 1933, another batting title in '38. His Red Sox days produced a .320 average and 222 home runs.
Bobby Doerr -- Although he played in the shadow of players like Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr has to be considered one of the greatest Red Sox players ever. During his 14 year Hall of Fame career, Doerr established himself as one of the most productive and consistent second basemen of his era.
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Although he played in the shadow of players like Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr has to be considered one of the greatest Red Sox players ever. During his 14 year Hall of Fame career, Doerr established himself as one of the most productive and consistent second basemen of his era. Only a back injury that forced him into early retirement at age 33 kept Doerr from being hailed as the top second baseman of all time.
Best known for his big bat, Doerr was a smooth fielder who set American League records for chances and games without an error twice during his career. Doerr broke his own record in those categories in 1948 when he played 73 straight games without an error. During that time, he handled 414 chances without so much as a bobble.
When you combine his play in the field with his ability at the plate, it is easy to see why Bobby made nine trips to the All-Star Game. It was a home run in the 1943 mid-season classic that gave Doerr his biggest thrill in baseball, and the A.L. a 5-3 win.
Of course, Doerr hit a lot of home runs during his career. The hard-swinging infielder holds the Red Sox record for home runs in a career by a second baseman with 223. Twice Doerr connected for 27 home runs to establish a single season mark for Red Sox second baseman that has stood for more than 40 years.
Big plays and clutch hits was what Doerr was all about. Making the most of his one trip to the World Series, Doerr hit .409 and collected at least one hit in each game he played. One person who did not want to see Doerr come to bat in a clutch situation was the Indians' Bob Feller. Doerr twice broke up no-hit bids by Rapid Robert.
Doerr's abilty to deliver in pressure situations was one reason why he drove in 100 or more runs six times. To put that feat into perspective, take all the second basemen who have played since Doerr retired in 1951. Add up all the years they drove in 100 or more runs, and they have only reached the century mark seven times.
A member of both the Red Sox Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Bobby was honored like only three other men in Red Sox history when his number 1 was retired in 1988. Like his number, Doerr stands side-by-side with the greatest Red Sox of all time.
Ted Williams -- Considered by many to be the greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball, Ted Williams is a true personification of the Red Sox mystique. He amassed 521 home runs, including a dramatic farewell homer on his last at bat in 1960.
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Considered by many to be the greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball, Ted Williams is a true personification of the Red Sox mystique. Williams played with the Fenway Boys from 1939-1960. His tremendous career was interrupted twice -- once when Williams served in World War II from 1942-1946, and again in 1952-1953 when he missed almost the entire seasons serving in the Korean Conflict. Nevertheless, Williams still amassed 521 home runs, including a dramatic farewell homer on his last at bat in 1960.
Adored by the fans, pursued by the press, "Teddy Ballgame" thought of only one thing upon entering the batter's box: 'I am Ted Williams, the world's greatest hitter.' In 1941 he compiled a batting average of .406, the last player ever to cross the .400 barrier. Not having an overwhelming physical presence, Williams proved that hitting is indeed an art. As Luke Salisbury wrote in A Certain Alienated Majesty, "The high average hitters are artists. They do not hit so high because they have physical gifts others don't. They have mental gifts others don't."
Williams never offered a dull moment, whether he was on or off the field. The explosive drive that helped transform him into one of the best the world has seen also affected his relationship with the media. In retrospect, this occurred because Williams was as close to perfection as a ball player could get. His every move was tracked in order to satisfy the insatiable appetite the public had for him. No other man of his day was followed or photographed more: each day Williams was hounded by some 20-25 journalists whose sole mission was to find both the good and bad within him. Perhaps this contributed to Ted's constant determination to be the best he could be.
Ted Williams retired from the Boston Red Sox at the end of the 1960 season with a lifetime batting average of .344, a lifetime home run count of 521 and a reputation that will span generations to come.
"Teddy Ballgame" Goes .406. In just his third year, at only 23 years of age, Ted Williams went into the last day of the 1941 season hitting .3996, an average that officially rounds up to .400.
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In just his third year, at only 23 years of age, Ted Williams went into the last day of the 1941 season hitting .3996, an average that officially rounds up to .400. The days of hitting .400 were over. The last major leaguer to hit over .400 was Bill Terry in 1930. The last American League player was Harry Heilmann in 1923.
With a .400 average safely in the record books and the Red Sox eliminated from the post-season, no one expected Ted to play in the September 28th season ending double header against the Philadelphia A's. Manager Joe Cronin suggested Ted should take the day off. Never having backed into anything, there was no doubt in Williams' mind that he was going to play.
As Ted came to bat for his first at bat, he got advice from the umpire and a message from the catcher. The home plate umpire called time out and bent over to brush off a clean home plate and whispered to Ted, "In order to hit .400, you have to be loose." Ted then got his message from the A's. Catcher Frank Hayes told Ted that A's manager Connie Mack was going to make him earn it. The A's would not walk him, but they would be doing their best to stop him.
Of course Ted's best was better than theirs as Williams went 4-5 with a home run in the first game of the double header to raise his average to .404. Would he sit out the second half -- fat chance. Ted was going for it all.
"The Kid" doubled and singled in three at bats to raise his average to a blistering .406. After the game Williams shouted to reporters, "Ain't I the best damn hitter you ever saw?"
No one could dare disagree that day.
Few would argue it still.
Johnny Pesky -- If anyone can say he eats, sleeps and breathes Red Sox baseball it is Johnny Pesky. Pesky started his Red Sox career in 1942 and with a few years off here and there, it has never ended.
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If anyone can say he eats, sleeps and breathes Red Sox baseball it is Johnny Pesky. Pesky started his Red Sox career in 1942 and with a few years off here and there, it has never ended. "Needlenose," as he was called by his Boston teammates, has served the Red Sox in every conceivable fashion.
As a player, Pesky was the tablesetter for the big bats of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Vern Stephens. Leading the league in hits his first three seasons, Pesky set a pretty mean table. After breaking into the Sox lineup at shortstop in 1942, Pesky went off to fight in World War II. When he returned in 1946 it was like he never left, leading the league in hits for the next two years. In his eight seasons as a Red Sox player, Johnny hit .313 and had an on-base percentage of .401.
Always the team player, Pesky moved to third when the Sox acquired the heavy hitting shortstop Vern Stephens. The two eventually switched positions and Pesky helped Stephens set an American League assist record for third baseman. Knowing that Stephens needed one more assist to break the record, Pesky fielded a hot shot at short and flipped to Stephens who gunned it to first, securing the record.
Pesky was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1952, but would return to the Red Sox organization to serve as a coach, announcer and assistant general manager. It was rumored that Pesky was even collecting tickets and selling popcorn at home games.
As special assistant for player development, this Red Sox legend can often be seen now working with young infielders on the game's finer points -- something Johnny Pesky knows a lot about.
Mel Parnell -- He is the winningest left-hand pitcher in Red Sox history and prior to the emergence of the hard-throwing "Rocket" Roger Clemens in the '80s and '90s, it was Mel Parnell who stood second on the Red Sox all-time wins list, second only to the immortal Cy Young.
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He is the winningest left-hand pitcher in Red Sox history and prior to the emergence of the hard-throwing "Rocket" Roger Clemens in the '80s and '90s, it was Mel Parnell who stood second on the Red Sox all-time wins list, second only to the immortal Cy Young.
Though many lefthanded hurlers feared taking the mound in front of Fenway Park's "Green Monster," Parnell found comfort there. Led by his slider, he pitched his way to a 70-30 record at Fenway over his 10-year career in Boston. "I take pride in being the winningest lefthander in Red Sox history while pitching half my games in a ballpark that a lot of southpaws would bypass," Parnell once said.
A graceful pitcher with a gentlemanly demeanor, Parnell's shining moment came on July 14, 1956 in what would be his final year with the Sox. The 34-year old pitcher threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox -- a 4-0 Red Sox win -- despite a variety of arm problems over the three previous years. It was the first no-hitter for a Red Sox pitcher since Howard Ehmke's gem in 1923. A torn muscle in his left elbow shortly thereafter ended his career, but not before he amassed 123 career wins.
His best year was 1949 when Parnell led the American League in wins with his 25-7 record and 2.77 ERA. He pitched to 18-10 and 18-11 records in '50 and '51 respectively before suffering a down year in '52. But he was back in Parnell form in 1953 with a 21-8 record and a 3.06 ERA.
A Record Breaking Day -- Giving new meaning to the term 7th inning stretch, the Red Sox scored 17 runs in one inning against the Detroit Tigers.
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Giving new meaning to the term 7th inning stretch, the Red Sox scored 17 runs in one inning against the Detroit Tigers. The Sox sent 23 batters to the plate as the Tigers tried to stop the bleeding with three different pitchers. None of them worked. The Sox had 14 hits and six walks in the record-setting inning.
Leading the charge was Dick Gernert and Gene Stephens. Stephens set a major league record with three hits in one inning, while Gernert knocked in four of the 17 runs. The Sox finished with 27 hits and 23 runs. It is too bad that only 3,626 fans showed up to see the barrage of runs.
The Sox broke or tied 17 major league records that day, even though the greatest hitter in Sox history, Ted Williams was fighting in the Korean War. Some of the records they set were most runs in one inning (17) and most hits in a game (27).
Frank Malzone -- Not since the World War I days of Larry Gardner (1908-1917) had the Red Sox seen so reliable a third baseman as they had in Frank Malzone.
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Not since the World War I days of Larry Gardner (1908-1917) had the Red Sox seen so reliable a third baseman as they had in Frank Malzone.
He came up through the Sox farm system and immediately established a name for himself at the hot corner. With teammates like Jimmy Piersall, Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen and Pete Runnels, Malzone was a perfect compliment to a strong nucleus.
In his Boston debut in 1955 Malzone batted 6-for-10 in a doubleheader against the Orioles, giving Boston fans a taste of what was to come.
His rookie year wouldn't come until 1957, and by then Malzone was ready to do it all. Leading his position in games played, putouts, assists, errors, double plays and fielding percentage, Malzone became the first player in modern baseball history to lead in all of those categories as a third baseman. And if that wasn't enough, he hit a career-high 103 RBI and won the first of his three consecutive Gold Gloves. His high mark defensively that year came on September 24 when he tied an American League record with 10 assists.
Malzone continued his brilliance in his sophomore season of 1958. His 627 at-bats was tops in the American League and his .295 batting average was a career high. Malzone's impressive numbers earned him a trip to the All-Star Game every year from 1957-1960 and again in 1963.
In 1961 he led third basemen in double plays for the fifth straight year, tying another American League record. He rarely missed games and averaged over 80 RBI for eight years.
Malzone was a mainstay at the hot corner for the Sox for nine years before spending the final year of his career in 1966 with the Angels.
A "Parting Shot" -- Never has an athlete finished in such style. In his last at bat of a Hall of Fame career, Ted Williams sent 10,454 fans into a frenzy when he launched a 1-1 pitch from Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Jack Fisher high into the damp gray sky and into the Red Sox bullpen for a home run.
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Never has an athlete finished in such style. In his last at bat of a Hall of Fame career, Ted Williams sent 10,454 fans into a frenzy when he launched a 1-1 pitch from Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Jack Fisher high into the damp gray sky and into the Red Sox bullpen for a home run..
In his customary fashion, Williams quickly circled the bases with his head down. Those who braved the cold that afternoon cheered wildly in an attempt to stir a show of emotion from the 42 year-old retiring star, but the "Splendid Splinter" kept it all inside..
Before the game, Ted did express his feelings toward the city of Boston and its fans saying he could not think of a better place to spend his 21-year career. What the fans did not know, was that this would be Williams' last game.
Having decided that he would not be accompanying the team to New York for the final series of the year against the Yankees, Ted wanted to go out with a bang. Having just misssed a home run his last time up, Ted came to bat in the eighth inning and put the finishing touches on his brilliant career with homer No. 521. At the time of his retirement, his 521 homers placed him third on the all-time list behind Babe Ruth and former teammate Jimmie Foxx..
His climactic ending was almost too perfect, but then again, so was Ted Williams..
Carl Yastremski -- In 1961, a highly touted rookie from Long Island, NY stepped into the hallowed shadow of Fenway's left field wall to guard an area just vacated by a legend.
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In 1961, a highly touted rookie from Long Island, NY, stepped into the hallowed shadow of Fenway's left field wall to guard an area just vacated by a legend.
Carl Michael Yastrzemski was the bright future of the Olde Towne Team and an admirable replacement for the "Splendid Splinter." For 22 years, he answered projections with dazzling statistics and personified the image of a hard working champion. By the time "Yaz" Day rolled around some two decades later, the passionate ballplayer had given baseball another Hall of Fame candidate and New England another hero.
Yastrzemski covers the record books kept by his team and the all-time stats of his beloved sport. He tops the Red Sox charts for runs batted in, hits, games, at-bats, runs scored, extra base hits and total bases. In many statistical categories, he stands just above the great Ted Williams, whose legend he was asked to follow. He holds a top-ten rank in eight of baseball's offensive categories and became the first American Leaguer to reach the 3,000-hit and 400-home run milestone. Perhaps his most crowning achievement, though, is a 1967 performance that stands as one of the greatest individual season-long efforts by a player of the game.
Yastrzemski led "The Impossible Dream." He took a Red Sox team that led the majors in losses the previous season and guided it on one of sport's most engaging turnarounds. His efforts were incredible. A .326 average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI gave "Yaz" the American League Triple Crown that year. Whenever the team needed a big play, the left fielder was there to respond.
Carl Yastrzemski was the backbone for years of spirited Red Sox clubs. He wowed the fans with his play and represented the good of baseball with his stature. On October 1, 1983, New England paid homage to its star as he took the field just days before retirement. The crowd roared, cheered and cried when he circled the park to give one last good-bye to a setting that he had worked in for so many seasons. He was a player for the Red Sox and a man of the game.
Rico Petrocelli -- Rico Petrocelli joined the Boston Red Sox in 1965 as a shortstop that would develop a powerful stroke at the plate. His bat guided him into numerous categories of the club's record books but it was his family that guided him as a person.
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Rico Petrocelli joined the Boston Red Sox in 1965 as a shortstop that would develop a powerful stroke at the plate. His bat guided him into numerous categories of the club's record books but it was his family that guided him as a person.
Petrocelli put his wife and children first, making the everyday schedule of baseball a tough thing to handle at times. He wasn't fond of the long road trips and the demands that travel put on his life so the numbers that he put up with Boston are a testament to a father who excelled while he was playing the game.
The young shortstop came of age in 1967 when the club reached for "The Impossible Dream." He had climbed up through the minors and took over the regular shift at short after joining the Red Sox but didn't break through till the latter years of the decade.
"It was then that I realized that the main thing was to win the pennant," he said. "I don't think I really became a big leaguer until then."
In Game 6 of the 1967 World Series, with the Sox down three games to two, "Petro" opened the scoring with a homer. He followed with another blast in the fourth to help force a seventh game.
Petrocelli exploded in 1969. He hit .297, posted a slugging percentage of .589, and set an American League record by hitting 40 home runs as a shortstop. He is seventh in Red Sox records for most home runs, RBI and extra-base hits thanks to continued success after moving to third base when Luis Aparicio joined the team at short.
Rico Petrocelli excelled in a game that keeps its players on the road for much of the season, by balancing it with the family life that drove his heart. That inner passion helped make "Petro" one of the greatest infielders ever to play for the Boston Red Sox.
Tony Conigliaro -- He was a hometown hero with a home-run swing and a Hollywood-handsome face. "Tony C," as he became known to fans, burst onto the baseball scene in Fenway Park in 1964, taking 24 homers over the "Green Monster" in 111 games while batting .290.
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He was a hometown hero with a home-run swing and a Hollywood-handsome face.
"Tony C," as he became known to fans, burst onto the baseball scene in Fenway Park in 1964, taking 24 homers over the "Green Monster" in 111 games while batting .290. A broken arm ended his rookie season in August and in all liklihood cost him "Rookie of the Year" honors. It was also an eerie omen of what was to become Conigliaro's most telling moment.
A Swampscott, MA native, Conigliaro was only 19 years old in '64 when he broke into the big leagues. And it didn't take long for the fans of Fenway Park to embrace their new local hero. In his second year with the Sox, Conigliaro belted 32 home runs which led the American League. At 20-years old, Conigliaro became the youngest home-run leader in baseball history. He followed that effort in '66 with 28 dingers.
After the Sox finished a dismal ninth place in 1966 for a second consecutive year, the team rebounded in 1967, the year of the "Impossible Dream." Along with Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, George Scott and Rico Petrocelli, Conigliaro and his 20 homeruns contributed significantly to the Boston offense. But August again proved fateful for "Tony C."
On August 18, California's Jack Hamilton threw a rising, inside fastball that crashed into Conigliaro's left eye. Witnesses said Conigliaro never even flinched. The slugger was left with a fractured cheekbone, a dislocated jaw and a damaged retina. He missed the remainder of the '67 season, all of 1968, and many expected he would never return.
Surpassing remarkable odds, Conigliaro returned in 1969 and batted .255 with 20 homers and won the "Comeback Player of the Year" award. He was even better in 1970 when he belted 36 dingers and 116 RBI. To assist his ability to see pitches, fans sitting in the centerfield bleachers at Fenway avoided wearing light-colored clothing. But "Tony C's" vision worsened again and forced his retirement. And tragedy seemed to lurk close behind him. At 37, Conigliaro suffered a heart attack, which left him in poor physical health. On February 24, 1990, "Tony C" passed away at the tender age of 45.
Though many people ask "What if..." when Conigliaro's name comes up in conversation, they will always remember him as the young man who accomplished so much in so little time.
Making his major league debut in Yankee Stadium, 21-year-old lefty Billy Rohr came within one out of pitching a no-hitter. An Elston Howard single to left with two outs in the ninth ruined the rookie's shot at immortality, but his unforgettable performance will live forever in Red Sox lore.
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Making his major league debut in Yankee Stadium, 21-year-old lefty Billy Rohr came within one out of pitching a no-hitter. An Elston Howard single to left with two outs in the ninth ruined the rookie's shot at immortality, but his unforgettable performance will live forever in Red Sox lore.
Yankee fans booed when Howard broke up Rohr's no-no on a 3-2 pitch. A six year-old fan sitting near the Red Sox dugout had to be consoled by his mother, Jackie Kennedy. If John-John was that heartbroken, he must have been thrilled moments earlier when Carl Yastrzemski made a spectacular diving catch to keep the no-hitter alive.
Yaz had this to say about his lunging catch off a Tom Tresh drive, "I may have made better catches, but I don't recall any."
Rohr, who pitched with an injured knee after getting hit with a line drive in the sixth inning, settled for a one hit shutout and a 3-0 Sox win. Rohr would win just one more game in a Sox uniform, but his place in Red Sox history is secured.
Yaz and "The Impossible Dream." Has there ever been a better example of the cream rising to the top? With the Sox fighting for their first pennant in 21 years, Carl Yastrzemski picked up his team, placed it squarely on his back and carried them to "The Impossible Dream", that was 1967.
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Has there ever been a better example of the cream rising to the top? With the Sox fighting for their first pennant in 21 years, Carl Yastrzemski picked up his team, placed it squarely on his back and carried them to "The Impossible Dream", that was 1967.
As the pressure mounted, Yaz got better; and that was tough, because he was great all year. Yaz went 23 for his last 44, 10 for his last 13, 7 for his last 8, and 4-for-4 on the final game of the year to give the Sox the '67 pennant by one game over the Tigers.
On that last day, the Sox fell behind the Twins 2-0 early. Move to the Sox batting in the 5th, the bases are loaded and up steps Yaz. Like there was ever a doubt, the captain ripped a long single to right to tie things up at two. The Sox would go up 5-2 and the combo of Yaz and ace pitcher Jim Lonborg would not let the Twins get close.
Minnesota got a run in the 8th, but Yaz erased all thoughts of a Twin rally when he chased a Bob Allison drive into the left field corner and gunned him out at second.
Many have called Yastrzemski's heroics in the 1967 season the greatest performance ever. Never has one player made so many clutch plays. A game winning home run, and great catch or a perfect throw.
Yaz did it all.
Carlton Fisk -- Carlton Fisk was in control from the start. He was a big, rugged, powerful presence both behind the plate and over it, in a Red Sox career that lasted a decade.
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Carlton Fisk was in control from the start. He was a big, rugged, powerful presence both behind the plate and over it, in a Red Sox career that lasted a decade.
"Pudge" didn't play like a rookie in an amazing 1972 season. He batted .293, hit 22 home runs and finished tied for the league lead with nine triples, marks which earned him the season's Rookie of the Year award. Never one to rest, Fisk continued to amass impressive stats while serving as a leader of many pennant-chasing clubs.
His most memorable moment turned into a scene that encompasses the tradition and faith of all Red Sox fans. The dominating catcher stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 12th inning of World Series Game Six in 1975. After Bernie Carbo's three-run pinch hit homer tied the game in the eighth and Dwight Evans' stunning catch gave the team life in the eleventh, Fisk was ready to close the door on a night of heroes.
The catcher jumped on the second offering from Pat Darcy and lifted a high blast down the left field line that seemed to turn one of baseball's greatest games into a slow motion dream. Fisk stood at home plate, waving the ball fair like a man controlling the winds and leaped in elation as the game winning home run bounced off the foul pole, opening the gates for a wild celebration guided by a home run dance around the bases. It was a moment that typified a great career.
Through 10-plus seasons in Boston, Fisk accumulated 162 home runs while compiling a .481 slugging percentage -- tenth in club history. Fisk is among the leaders in three other offensive categories and is remembered for his uncanny stature in the field. For his career, Fisk caught more games (2,226) and hit more home runs (351 of his career 376) than any player at his position ever.
Carlton Fisk, who played the game with passion, power, vigor and intelligence, is arguably the greatest catcher ever to play for the Boston Red Sox. He was elected to the Hall of Fame and his number 27 formally retired by the Red Soxin 2000.
Luis Tiant -- Snatched from the minors during the 1971 season, Luis Taint resurrected his career and a pitching staff during the 1970's. After a 1-7 record in 1971, "El Tiante" re-discovered his magic the next year and went 15-6. Three 20 win seasons, a trip to the World Series, and countless chants of "Loo-ie, Loo-ie" followed.
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Snatched from the minors during the 1971 season, Luis Taint resurrected his career and a pitching staff during the 1970's. After a 1-7 record in 1971, "El Tiante" re-discovered his magic the next year and went 15-6. Three 20 win seasons, a trip to the World Series, and countless chants of "Loo-ie, Loo-ie" followed.
Known for his style and charisma as much as for his great pitching, Tiant became an idol in Boston during the 1970's. His fu manchu mustache, hearty smile and penchant for smoking cigars made Tiant recognizable, but it was his classic wind-up and delivery that had kids imitating him throughout New England. Twisting and turning his body into unthinkable positions, Louie would spend more time looking at second base than he did the plate as he prepared to throw.
When Tiant did throw to the plate he baffled hitters with a wide assortment of pitches. From 1972 to 1978 "El Tiante" won 121 games during the regular season, an average of over 17 wins a year. He was even better in the post-season. In Game One of the American League Championship Series against Oakland Tiant pitched a complete game three hitter, in the 7-1 Sox win.
In the 1975 World Series against the Reds, Tiant shutout the "Big Red Machine" 6-0 in Game One and followed that up with another complete game win in Game Four. If this wasn't enough, Louie hit .250 (2 for 8) and scored two runs in the series.
The "Loo-ie" era ended after the 1978 season when he joined the Yankees as a free agent. But even playing for the hated Yankees didn't diminish his status as a Red Sox legend.
Dwight Evans -- Dwight Evans patrolled the spacious right field of Fenway Park with a special combination of grit and hustle mixed with a rifle of an arm. He was a confident outfielder who loved to hit the ball.
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Dwight Evans patrolled the spacious right field of Fenway Park with a special combination of grit and hustle mixed with a rifle of an arm. He was a confident outfielder who loved to hit the ball.
"Dewey" entered the big leagues in 1972 with the Red Sox in the midst of one of many pennant chases that Evans would help guide in his Boston career. Three years later, he was in the national spotlight after making an amazing catch at the wall in right that gave the Red Sox a chance in the 1975 World Series. But it was his bat that graces the record books.
Evans placed in the top five of ten offensive categories in the club's records, the most notable being the 379 home runs and 1,346 RBI that put him fourth, behind Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice.
The hustling right fielder also finished his career with the second most games played and at-bats in Boston history. It is no wonder, then, that Evans was involved in so many of the team's memorable moments, including the 1986 ALCS and World Series.
Dewey's two-run homer in the fifth inning of World Series Game 2 chased Dwight Gooden and propelled the Sox to a 2-0 Series lead. After New York forced a seventh game, the right fielder's homer helped Boston build a 3-0 lead and his two-run double in the eighth brought the Sox within one at 6-5 as he symbolized the team's never-say-die attitude.
Dwight Evans was a leader by example. He'll always be remembered as one of the finest outfielders ever to play for the Olde Towne Team.
Fred Lynn -- In 1975, a rookie from USC made baseball history while carving out a place in the hearts of Red Sox fans. Fred Lynn's classic swing and spectacular center field play earned him both the 1975 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards, an accomplishment that had neither been done before nor done since.
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In 1975, a rookie from USC made baseball history while carving out a place in the hearts of Red Sox fans. Fred Lynn's classic swing and spectacular center field play earned him both the 1975 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards, an accomplishment that had neither been done before nor done since.
Fred Lynn made baseball fun to watch. They say Fenway is made for right-handed hitters, but they are wrong, it was made for Fred Lynn. Never has a left-handed batter been able use the "Green Monster" like Lynn. In 1979 he set a team record for left handers by connecting for 28 Fenway home runs. His stroke was the prettiest in Boston since Ted Williams. Not the kind to wear batting gloves, Lynn would rub his bare hand up the barrel of the bat, looking frighteningly relaxed before unloading on a pitch.
When Lynn wasn't terrorizing pitchers, he was frustrating batters. Following in the footsteps of Tris Speaker, Dom DiMaggio and Jimmy Piersall, Lynn was a gifted center fielder. He would stop at nothing -- not even outfield walls -- to make a catch. His refusal to back away from walls endeared him to fans and frustrated his coaches.
Lynn and fellow rookie Jim Rice formed a duo known as the "Gold Dust Twins" that helped lead the Sox to the World Series in 1975. With the awards and World Series, Lynn will best be remembered for the 1975 season, but his six-year stint with the Sox was full of great moments.
A .333 average produced a batting championship in 1979. There were four gold gloves and six All-Star games, one for each year he spent in Boston. He led the league in slugging percentage twice and doubles once.
Fred Lynn was more than just 1975.
Jim Rice -- In the amazing fraternity that is left field at Fenway Park, it was only fitting that Jim Rice would continue the saga started by Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski before the famed green wall.
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In the amazing fraternity that is left field at Fenway Park, it was only fitting that Jim Rice would continue the saga started by Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski before the famed green wall.
The athletic young star joined the Red Sox in 1974 after securing the International League's triple crown and made an immediate impact with an incredible rookie season.
Rice batted .309 with 22 home runs and 102 RBI in his first full year with the big club, leading the Sox to the American League pennant and the 1975 World Series, an event he would miss after having his left hand broken by a Vern Ruhl fastball just days before the playoffs.
Three years later, Rice was named the A.L.'s MVP after setting staggering marks including major league leading totals of 46 homers, 139 RBI, 15 triples, 406 total bases, 213 hits and a .600 slugging percentage. He was an offensive dynamo just seasons into a famed career.
By 1980, the stunning slugger had amassed enough stats to place in the top five of nine offensive categories in Red Sox record books. He was also the first Boston outfielder to post more than 20 assists in a season since 1944.
Jim Rice was a classic ballplayer in a position marked by fame. He roamed the outfield with Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans and carried the torch passed on by the Hall of Famers before him.
Rice was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2009.
A Rookie Ignites -- Years before Robert Redford starred as "The Natural," a kid from California joined the Red Sox and played with such style and grace that it seems Roy Hobbs was patented after him. Fred Lynn started his first full season in 1975, and went on to set history as the only player to be both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.
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Years before Robert Redford starred as "The Natural," a kid from California joined the Red Sox and played with such style and grace that it seems Roy Hobbs was patented after him. Fred Lynn started his first full season in 1975, and went on to set history as the only player to be both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.
Lynn was great from the beginning, but a June night in Detroit highlighted his magical season. Playing in hitter-friendly Tiger Stadium, Fred Lynn had what may be the single greatest game in baseball history. Lynn belted three home runs, a triple, and a single. He drove in a Sox record 10 runs and collected an American League record 16 total bases.
Lynn's three homers didn't need any assistance from the overhang in right field of Tiger Stadium. With one of Lynn's blasts carromming off the upper deck roof, and the two others landing in the top deck, Lynn showed the power that could be generated with a picture perfect swing. Lynn's triple, in fact was just a few feet from leaving the yard for a fourth homer. His offensive explosion made Lynn a household name, and one fans would not soon forget.
Bernie Carbo's Biggest Hit -- It remains as the greatest World Series game ever played. Baseball's two finest teams, both loaded with talent, locked horns for the 1975 Fall Classic: the Boston Red Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Never has a World Series game encompassed everything baseball can be: dramatic defense, clutch hitting and extra inning heroics.
Carlton Fisk Makes History -- If there was ever a game to use as a measuring stick for which future World Series games will be compared, it is Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Stellar defense, clutch hitting, extra inning theatrics and World Series pressure, all underscored by the nostalgic backdrop of Fenway Park, set the stage for a game that will never be forgotten.
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It remains as the greatest World Series game ever played.
Baseball's two finest teams, both loaded with talent, locked horns for the 1975 Fall Classic: the Boston Red Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Never has a World Series game encompassed everything baseball can be: dramatic defense, clutch hitting and extra inning heroics.
A travel day plus three days of steady rain gave Boston manager Darrell Johnson enough time to rest his ace pitcher Luis Tiant for Game 6 with the Reds up three games to two. The Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead which the "Big Red Machine" was able to squander by the eighth inning. The Reds led 6-3 going to the bottom of the eighth.
With two outs, Johnson turned to Bernie Carbo to pinch hit with two men on as the Sox skipper and all of New England asked for a miracle. Carbo already had a pinch hit home run under his belt in this Series. How many miracles could one man deliver?
Bernie Carbo had one more left.
Carbo, who entered the big leagues through the Cincinnati farm system, crushed a pitch over the center field wall into a frenzied bleacher crowd to tie the game at 6-6. Another run wasn't scored until Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk delivered a 1-0 pitch in the bottom of the 12th high off of the left field foul pole some four hours after the game started.
The Red Sox may not have won the 1975 World Series. But they certainly did not lose.
If there was ever a game to use as a measuring stick for which future World Series games will be compared, it is Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Stellar defense, clutch hitting, extra inning theatrics and World Series pressure, all underscored by the nostalgic backdrop of Fenway Park, set the stage for a game that will never be forgotten.
The Red Sox were all but done against Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" with two outs in the eighth, losing 6-3 and down three games to two. A loss would have given the crown to the Reds that night. But when Bernie Carbo was asked to pinch hit with two men on, he responded by launching his second pinch hit home run of the Series to tie the game at 6-6 and ignite the "Fenway Faithful."
Both teams made scoring threats in extra innings, including a Joe Morgan drive in the 11th that right fielder Dwight Evans brought back into the park with his glove which he then returned to the infield for a double play. Having seen enough, Carlton Fisk stepped to the plate an inning and a half later in the Red Sox 12th and turned on the second Pat Darcy offering.
There was no question about the height. There was no question about the distance. But was it fair?
Fisk danced on an imaginary pogo stick down the first baseline while begging the ball to stay fair by waving his arms toward fair territory. The crowd went wild when the ball caromed off of the left field foul pole to give the Sox a 7-6 win, evening the World Series at three games apiece.
The home run gave new life to the Red Sox and one of the all-time great moments in Red Sox history was etched in stone.
Bucky Dent Prevails -- In any other park, Bucky Dent's three-run home run likely would have been a routine fly ball for an out. But in Boston's Fenway Park, which isn't always friendly to the Olde Town Team, it was the final nail that sealed the coffin of the Red Sox' 1978 season.
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In any other park, Bucky Dent's three-run home run likely would have been a routine fly ball for an out. But in Boston's Fenway Park, which isn't always friendly to the Olde Town Team, it was the final nail that sealed the coffin of the Red Sox' 1978 season.
Boston opened the '78 season red hot under manager Don Zimmer compiling a 62-29 record by the middle of July with a 10-game lead over second place Milwaukee and 14 games over the Yankees. By late-July, the Sox started to stumble as the Yankees began their run, winning 52 of their last 73 games, one of the most remarkable stretch drives in baseball history.
Boston had some life left though. After falling 3 1/2 games out of first, the Sox won 11 of their last 13. By the end of the '78 season the two teams had impressive, but, matching records: 99-63, necessitating a one-game playoff.
The Yankees went with 25-3 ace Ron Guidry against former Yankee Mike Torrez. Torrez threw a gem of a game through six innings for the Sox. Carl Yastrzemski wrapped a home run around "Pesky's Pole" giving the Sox a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, with two men on with two outs, light-hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent stepped to the plate. Dent sent a Torrez pitch into the air which barely had enough gas to clear the "Green Monster." But clear it, it did, for a 3-2 lead. It was only Dent's fifth homer of the season.
The Yankees added two more runs before the Red Sox were able to close the gap to 5-4 and managed to get the tying run to third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. "Mr. Clutch" Carl Yastrzemski dug into the batter's box as the "Fenway Faithful" wished for one more magical moment from "Yaz."
"Goose" Gossage's heaters were too much to handle, though, and Yastrzemski lofted a routine out to third base ending the season for Boston.
The Red Sox ended the season one win shy of the 100 mark, usually good enough for post season play. Unfortunately, this year, it was only good enough for second place.
Yaz Hits Number 3,000. A soft ground ball made a path through the infield, out of the reach of defender's gloves and into the plush green grass of Fenway. It was a defining moment of the game, a quiet single that reminded us of how simple baseball could be and a monumental statistic that told the story of a ballplayer for the ages.
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A soft ground ball made a path through the infield, out of the reach of defender's gloves and into the plush green grass of Fenway. It was a defining moment of the game, a quiet single that reminded us of how simple baseball could be and a monumental statistic that told the story of a ballplayer for the ages.
Carl Yastrzemski, a 40-year-old man who played the game with a stern exterior and pounding inner passion, notched his 3,000th hit on September 12, 1979.
The moment was three days in coming, a series of games where even Yaz was affected by the pressure of needing just one safe crack of the bat to become the first American League player to record 3000 hits and 400 home runs in a career.
"I've been in pennant pressure, playoff pressure and World Series pressure situations and wasn't bothered by any of them," he said later. "I think it was the way the fans reacted the last three days. I wanted to get that base hit for the fans..."
When Yastrzemski put that pitch into right field, he was a symbol of hard work, determination, and the simplicity of the game. Thirty-four thousand fans chanted his name before he stepped up to a microphone with his son and father at his side. He thanked his teammates, coaches, Walter Hriniak, friends and his "two biggest boosters," his mother and Tom Yawkey.
A milestone had been reached by the man Yawkey once called "the greatest to ever play for the Red Sox."
History had been made by one of the greatest players of the game.
Carl Yastrzemski's Last Game -- Yaz Day. "New England," he said. " I love you." Carl Yastrzemski was ready to play the last game of an amazing Red Sox career. It was "Yaz Day" at Fenway Park. A late summer afternoon where the hard-working left fielder would stand before the shadow of the "Green Monster" for the last time.
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"New England," he said. " I love you."
Carl Yastrzemski was ready to play the last game of an amazing Red Sox career. It was "Yaz Day" at Fenway Park. A late summer afternoon where the hard-working left fielder would stand before the shadow of the "Green Monster" for the last time.
He came to the Red Sox in 1961 as a highly touted rookie who would carry on the presence of the recently retired Ted Williams. Yastrzemski was a proud man. At age 44, he had controlled his emotions through elation and heartbreak, but on October 2, 1983, the stern exterior cracked enough for millions of fans to catch a glimpse of the man behind the number eight.
He exited the dugout before the scheduled game with Cleveland after a gathering with teammates in the clubhouse. The cheers were deafening. Six minutes of roaring appreciation for the man who guarded the left field wall for the Olde Towne Team over two decades. Yaz was presented with a car, a boat and a Bronco. A silver bat, silver bowl, and a rocking chair. They were small tokens of New England's appreciation for Yastrzemski's efforts and approach to the game, presented before a moment that stands clear in memory of all who could see it.
Yaz jogged to the fans, beginning a run around the field where he shook as many hands as he could. He made his way down the right field line, waved to the screaming fans in the center field bleachers and headed for the familiar confines of left field before reaching the Red Sox dugout.
"I wanted to show my emotions," he said later. "For 23 years, I always blocked everything out. I wanted to show these people that deep down, I was emotional for all that time."
The Rocket mows down 20 -- Red Sox manager John McNamara said it was the most awesome display of pitching he had ever seen. On a Tuesday night in April of 1986, Red Sox right-hander Roger Clemens shot down a record number of Seattle Mariners to break the Major League record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
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Red Sox manager John McNamara said it was the most awesome display of pitching he had ever seen.
Roger Clemens warmed up a cannon before a Tuesday night game in April of 1986 and shot down 20 Seattle Mariners by night's end to break the Major League record for strikeouts in a nine inning game.
It was an exhibition of sheer power and by the time the smoke cleared, the "Rocket" had fanned the side three times and during one stretch sat down eight Mariners in a row. He looked unhitable. Seventy percent of his pitches were strikes, many of which topped the radar gun at 95 mph and higher.
"The people who were here tonight saw history that won't be broken," said Mariner Gorman Thomas who was a star of the night's dramatic subplot. Despite the awesome show of pitching force, Clemens actually trailed 1-0 in the seventh after Thomas blasted a solo shot to center field. The thought of heartbreak didn't last long, though, as Dwight Evans ensured victory with a three-run shot with two out in the bottom of the frame.
Clemens responded by turning into his own closer in the ninth. The "Rocket" gassed his former college teammate and good friend, Spike Owen, broke the record with three pitches to Phil Bradley and got Ken Phelps to end it with a grounder to short.
"When the last out was made, I wanted to tip my cap," said Thomas. "He was that good. It's the finest effort you'll ever see."
Dave Henderson's Game Five Homer -- Anaheim was preparing for a history's worth of celebration. Its Angels were one out away from the World Series, one strike from adding another chapter to the book of Red Sox playoff misfortunes and one moment away from labeling Dave Henderson as the goat of Game 5 in the American League Championship Series of 1986.
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Anaheim was preparing for a history's worth of celebration. Its Angels were one out away from the World Series, one strike from adding another chapter to the book of Red Sox playoff misfortunes and one moment away from labeling Dave Henderson as the goat of Game 5 in the American League Championship Series of 1986. They were also a few minutes away from hosting one of the greatest comebacks in Boston Red Sox history.
Henderson, who had earlier watched Bobby Grich's fly ball bounce off the heel of his glove and over the center field fence to give California a 3-2 lead, stepped to the plate with Rich Gedman on first in the ninth, a 2-2 count and his team trailing 5-4. Don Baylor had just closed the gap with a two-run shot giving Tony Armas' defensive replacement a chance to turn hero. Henderson didn't disappoint.
After fouling off two Donnie Moore pitches, the center fielder turned on a forkball and danced around the bases as teammates stormed to home plate watching the ball sail over the fence as the scoreboard reluctantly gave Boston a 6-5 lead. Shades of Carlton Fisk covered the field and the Red Sox breathed new life after facing a 3-1 series deficit.
The Angels managed to tie the game in the bottom of the inning but could not contain Boston's '86 savior. Henderson worked his magic again in the 11th with a bases-loaded blast to the outfield, deep enough to score Baylor with the game's winning run. There was no quit in Boston. There was no more luck for California. The Red Sox went on to win the ALCS and accepted the prize of meeting New York's Mets in the 1986 World Series.
It was an unsatisfying season team-wise, as Boston followed its 1986 pennant by going 78-84. However, there were some terrific individual performances. Roger Clemens solidified his second consecutive Cy Young award by earning win No. 20 on the final day of the season. Wade Boggs won his third consecutive batting title, and fourth in five years. The hitting machine also set a career high in homers with 24.
The Red Sox made a managerial change after the All-Star break, as coach Joe Morgan took over for John McNamara. The Red Sox ripped off victories in Morgan's first 12 games, and 19 out of his first 20. They also won 24 in a row at home. The period became known as "Morgan Magic", and culminated with the Red Sox winning their second division title in three years. The joy ended there, as Boston was swept by the A's in four straight in the ALCS. On an individual note, Wade Boggs won his fifth batting title and Mike Greenwell finished second to Jose Canseco in AL MVP voting.
In one of the most memorable plays in Red Sox history, Tom Brunansky made a diving catch in the right field corner to save the final game of the regular season and clinch the AL East for the Sox. It was Boston's third division title in five years. However, the Sox were again swept by the A's in the ALCS, extending their postseason losing streak to 10 games.
Roger Clemens won his third and final Cy Young in a Red Sox uniform by going 18-10 with a 2.62 ERA. He also registered 241 strikeouts. Despite a second-place finish, manager Joe Morgan was fired the day after the season. He was replaced by former Sox third baseman Butch Hobson.
Kevin Kennedy took over the managerial reins from Butch Hobson, and Boston proved to be one of the surprise stories in baseball. The Sox won the AL East with a record of 86-58. Mo Vaughn emerged into a superstar, earning AL MVP honors. Tim Wakefield was plucked off the scrap heap by GM Dan Duquette and shocked the baseball world by beginning the season 14-1. However, the Red Sox were again swept out of the playoffs, this time by the Indians in three games in the newly formatted Division Series. It brought Boston's postseason losing streak to 13 games.
In his final season with the Red Sox, Roger Clemens tied his own Major League record by registering 20 strikeouts against the Tiger on Sept. 18. The Red Sox made a late wild-card bid, but fell short. Mo Vaughn had the best statistical season of his career, smashing 44 homers and driving in 143 runs. Manager Kevin Kennedy was fired shortly after the season, and replaced by Jimy Williams.
The Red Sox were treated to the arrival of a rookie named Nomar Garciaparra, who immediately turned into a superstar. The dynamic shortstop won Rookie of the Year honors by hitting .306 with 122 runs, 209 hits, 44 doubles, 11 triples, 30 homers, 98 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. But the season was a disappointment, as Boston went 78-84 in Jimy Williams' first season as manager.
After acquiring star right-hander Pedro Martinez in the winter, the Red Sox produced their first 90-win season since 1996. The 92-70 finish was good enough to vault them into the playoffs as the AL Wild Card. There was no sophomore jinx for Nomar Garciaparra, as he finished second in AL MVP balloting. The Red Sox snapped their postseason losing streak of 13 games by clubbing the Indians in Game 1. Mo Vaughn blasted two homers, pacing an 11-3 victoy. The Red Sox were eliminated by losing the next three games. Vaughn, a free agent after the season, signed a six-year contract with the Anaheim Angels.
Without Mo Vaughn, the Red Sox were not without hope. In fact, the Red Sox improved upon their win total from the season before, finishing 94-68. Jimy Williams was named AL Manager of the Year. Nomar Garciaparra won his first batting title. Pedro Martinez was the best pitcher in baseball, going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. The Sox again won the AL Wild Card. They also won their first postseason series since 1986, rallying back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Indians in five games. Martinez was heroic in the Game 5 clincher, tossing six no-hit innings out of the bullpen despite an injury to his right shoulder. Boston lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games.
Nomar Garciaparra earned his second consecutive batting title. Pedro Martinez earned his third Cy Young award in four years. But it wasn't enough to get the Red Sox to the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Boston finished 85-77, 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
The Red Sox signed superstar slugger Manny Ramirez off the free agent market. Ramirez's impact was felt immediately. He clubbed a three-run homer in the first pitch he saw in a home uniform at Fenway Park. On April 4, Hideo Nomo pitched Boston's first no-hitter since 1965. The start against the Orioles at Camden Yards was Nomo's first in a Boston uniform. But injuries to Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek decimated any chance Boston had of qualifying for postseason. Manager Jimy Williams was fired on Aug. 16 and replaced by pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. The Red Sox went 17-26 the rest of the way.
The Red Sox began a new era, as the ownership group led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino officially took over on Feb. 27. The next day, GM Dan Duquette was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Mike Port. On March 5, Joe Kerrigan was fired as manager. He was replaced on March 11 by Grady Little, who had formerly been a coach in Boston under Jimy Williams. The Red Sox went 93-69 under Little, but missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe gave the Sox their first 20-win tandem since 1949. The highlight of the season was Lowe's no-hitter at Fenway on April 27 against the Devil Rays. Manny Ramirez, despite missing six weeks with a fractured left index finger, won his first batting title.
It is a season that will live on forever in the minds of Red Sox fans. After a 98-win regular season -- the most victories posted by the club since 1978 -- the Sox, led by stellar performances from Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez and newly acquired Curt Schilling, went into the postseason as the American League Wild Card entry. They swept the Angels in the Division Series. The Sox were nearly swept out of the American League Championship Series, trailing the Yankees, 3-0, in the best-of-seven series. But that was when they officially became historymakers, becoming the first team in Major League Baseball history to recover from a 3-0 deficit. After thumping the Yankees in seven games, the Sox swept the Cardinals for their first World Series championship in 86 years. Ramirez was named MVP of the Series.
It's tough to follow a dream season, but the Red Sox did their best in 2005. Retooling in the offseason by bringing in veteran starters David Wells and Matt Clement, the Sox were primed to repeat as world champs. After a stop-and-start first two months, Boston reclaimed first place in the American League East on June 24, and held the top spot for most of the second half of the season. David Ortiz was the lynchpin of the offense, putting together a season (.300, 47 HR, 147 RBIs) that would see him finish second in American League MVP voting. Outfielder Manny Ramirez threw together another stellar year, hitting 45 home runs and driving in 144. After hobbling into the playoffs in the final weekend, a banged-up Sox pitching staff couldn't hold off the eventual World Series-winning White Sox, and Boston fell in an AL Division Series sweep.
It looked like the Red Sox were primed to play postseason baseball for a fourth consecutive October. Led by perhaps the best defense in team history, manager Terry Francona's team bolted out to a 59-36 record and led the American League East by 3 ½ games on July 21. But the bottom fell out of after that, as the team was decimated by injuries to key players such as Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon and Tim Wakefield and went 27-40 the rest of the way. However, the season still had plenty of excitement, none bigger than David Ortiz setting a club record with 54 homers. Jonathan Papelbon (0.92 ERA) established himself as an elite player in his rookie season. Curt Schilling bounced back from his injury-marred 2005 with 15 wins. Boston's .98910 fielding percentage was the best in Major League history.
This year's wire-to-wire performance by the Red Sox was one of the most impressive in team history. Manager Terry Francona's team took over first place in the American League East on April 18 and never let it go. It was Boston's first division title since 1995. The fun did not stop after the 96-66 regular season. The Red Sox swept the Angels in the Division Series, came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Indians in a seven-game American League Championship Series and then broke out the brooms again in a World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies. It was the second World Series championship for the Red Sox in four years, this after not winning one for 86 years. There were several individual standouts, from the Rookie of the Year performance of second baseman Dustin Pedroia to a 20-win season by Josh Beckett to more heroics from star run producer David Ortiz. Third baseman Mike Lowell, the MVP of the World Series, also had a big year, hitting .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs. After much fanfare, Daisuke Matsuzaka came over from Japan and won 15 games in his rookie year.
Despite numerous injuries to key players, the Red Sox reached the 95-win plateau and reached the postseason for the fifth time in six years. Viewed as underdogs in the Division Series, the Red Sox knocked off the 100-win Angels in four games. Down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series, the Sox nearly pulled out yet another improbable revival that would have landed them in the World Series. In Game 5, Boston trailed 7-0 with seven outs to go. But they proceeded to pull off the most miraculous postseason comeback since 1929. After winning Game 6, the Red Sox came up short, 3-1, in Game 7. But it was a season to be proud of. Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP, scoring 118 runs, producing 213 hits and winning both Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Kevin Youkilis also had a breakout year, finishing third in the MVP voting. Daisuke Matsuzaka went 18-3 and finished fourth in the race for American League Cy Young Award. On July 31, general manager Theo Epstein took the bold step of trading future Hall of Fame slugger Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers in a three-team exchange that brought left fielder Jason Bay to Boston.
It was another successful regular season during the regime of general manager Theo Epstein, as the Red Sox qualified for the postseason for the sixth time in seven years. The Red Sox hit the 95-win plateau on the nose for second year in a row, marking the sixth time they've had at least that many victories in Epstein's seven years on the job, and the fifth time in six years under manager Terry Francona. The only big disappointment was the postseason, when Boston endured a three-game sweep in the Division Series against the Angels.
Several individuals stood out. Kevin Youkilis hit .305 with 27 homers, 94 RBIs and a career-high on-base plus slugging of .961. Dustin Pedroia didn't quite repeat his Most Valuable Player Award season of the year before, but he still put up impressive numbers, which included 115 runs, 185 hits, 48 doubles, 15 homers and 20 stolen bases. Left fielder Jason Bay, playing his first full season in Boston, also had a big year from a production standpoint, clubbing 36 homers and driving in 119 runs. The offense got a big infusion at the end of July, when Epstein acquired elite run producer Victor Martinez from the Indians. Martinez fit right in from the start, producing big hits and emerging into a team leader.
On the pitching side, Jon Lester overcame a shaky first two months and was brilliant from June on. He set a club record for a lefty with 225 strikeouts while winning 15 games and posting a 3.41 ERA. Josh Beckett led the staff with 17 wins. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was an All-Star for the fourth time in four years, notching 38 saves and a 1.85 ERA.
The Red Sox opened the year fully expecting to be back in the postseason for the seventh time in Theo Epstein's eight years as general manager. Instead, they fell short of that goal for the first time since 2006. The Red Sox won 89 games but stayed in contention for a postseason spot until the final week of the season. A big reason they didn't reach expectations were injuries. Jacoby Ellsbury played in just 18 games because of ongoing left rib woes. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the team's emotional leader, broke the navicular bone in his left foot on June 25 and would play in just two games for the rest of the season. The final blow was the season-ending loss of slugger Kevin Youkilis, who tore the adductor muscle in his right thumb on Aug. 2. Center fielder Mike Cameron (sports hernia surgery) and Josh Beckett (back problems) were other players who were limited greatly by health problems.
That said, the Red Sox had several standout performers and performances. The night before Pedroia broke his foot, he had the game of his life, going 5-for-5 with three homers and five RBIs in a wild win at Colorado. Jon Lester had his third consecutive ace-caliber season and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award race. Lester was an All-Star for the first time , winning a career-high of 19 games and striking out 225. Clay Buchholz had a breakout season, winning the No. 5 spot in the rotation in Spring Training and winning 17 games. Buchholz's 2.33 ERA was second only to Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez in the AL. Offensively, Adrian Beltre, a free agent acquisition, exceeded all expectations, hitting .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs. David Ortiz also had a big year, belting 32 homers and driving in 102.
Take away the beginning (losses in the first six games) and the end (a 7-20 mark in September) and this would have been one of the finest seasons in Red Sox history. Instead, it will be remembered in infamy. When they lost a heartbreaking final game of the regular season at Camden Yards, the Red Sox became the first team in Major League history to hold a nine-game lead in the standings in September and miss the postseason. The breakdown of the starting rotation played the biggest role in the collapse. Injuries to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka - neither of whom pitched after June - didn't help.
Still, there were some achievements to appreciate. Jacoby Ellsbury developed into a superstar and finished second in the American League's Most Valuable Player Award voting. Adrian Gonzalez was a hitting machine in his first year in Boston, hitting .338 with 27 homers and 117 RBIs. Coming off a broken left foot, Dustin Pedroia put numbers comparable to his MVP season of '08, hitting .307 with 21 homers and 91 RBIs while earning his second career Gold Glove. Gonzalez and Ellsbury were also Gold Glove winners. Tim Wakefield, Boston's venerable knuckleballer, had a magical night at Fenway on Sept. 13, earning career win No. 200.
Once the season ended, there was an overhaul at the top. Terry Francona parted ways with the club after eight highly successful seasons as manager. He was replaced by Bobby Valentine. Theo Epstein's nine-year tenure as general manager ended when he moved to the Cubs to become president of baseball operations. Ben Cherington was promoted into the GM spot for Boston.
With a new manager in Bobby Valentine, the Sox were billed as favorites entering 2012. Before the season, two stalwarts of Red Sox Nation, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield retired. But the team was still in good hands with David Ortiz back on a one-year deal, along with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester. Things started off slowly. Valentine and Youkilis had a public spat in April, and Youkilis was eventually traded to the White Sox to make room for rising star Will Middlebrooks. Injuries and communication issues marred the season, and a midseason meeting between players and ownership punctuated the disappointment. General manager Ben Cherington provided a wave of hope and also made his mark as a still-new GM in late August, when he pulled off a blockbuster with the Dodgers that sent out Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. That cleared payroll, and paved the way for a bright future.
Call this the World Series championship season that came out of nowhere. Coming off a last-place finish, the Red Sox had a new manager for the second straight year. But unlike Bobby Valentine, John Farrell wound up being the perfect fit, almost immediately changing the culture of the team. New faces like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes and Koji Uehara also played big roles. Bonded by the tragic Boston Marathon bombings that took place just miles from Fenway Park, the Red Sox developed a sense of unity with each other and the community. What followed was a 97-win season good for an American League East championship.
The Red Sox dispatched of the Rays in four games in their American League Division Series.
They were just four outs away from trailing the Tigers, 2-0, in the American League Championship Series, but David Ortiz hit a monumental, game-tying grand slam against Joaquin Benoit that completely changed the momentum. Boston won the series in six games and defeated the Cardinals in a hard-fought World Series that also stretched to six games. Boston trailed, 2-1, through three games, but then won the final three. In the clincher, the Red Sox got an early three-run double by Victorino and a brilliant pitching performance by John Lackey to set off a joyous celebration in which the Red Sox were able to win a World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. Ortiz had a World Series for the ages, hitting .688 with two homers and six RBIs. Ace Jon Lester was magnificent, winning games 1 and 5 and notching a 0.59 era.
After an 86-year championship drought, the '13 championship was Boston's third in 10 seasons.
After going worst to first the year before, the Red Sox did the exact opposite in an ill-fated title defense in '14. Aside from the marvelous David Ortiz, Boston's offense sputtered for most of a 71-91 season. Manager John Farrell started the season with three rookies in the starting lineup (Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr.) and all three struggled to stay consistent, through Bradley was spectacular in the field. As the Sox fell out of contention, even more youngsters got a chance to play, including the highly-athletic Mookie Betts and cannon-armed catcher Christian Vazquez. The big news of the season was the July 31 trade of ace Jon Lester, who was eligible to become a free agent at season's end. Lester spent two months with the Athletics and the Red Sox tried to bring him back as a free agent in December, but Theo Epstein's Cubs won those sweepstakes. Also in December, the player the Red Sox traded Lester for - slugger Yoenis Cespedes - was sent to the Tigers for righty starter Rick Porcello.
After signing Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to boost the offense, the Red Sox were hoping for a big turnaround. Instead, both those players struggled to live up to the hype and Boston endured a second consecutive last-place finish in the American League East. The good news was that several young players created excitement with their strong play, particularly outfielder Mookie Betts and rookie lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. Meanwhile, David Ortiz had yet another monster season (37 homers, 108 RBIs) and drilled career homer No. 500 on Sept. 12 at Tropicana Field. The best news came in the weeks following the season, when new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski signed ace David Price (seven years, $217 million) and acquired elite closer Craig Kimbrel from the Padres.