The perfect swing and complicated life of Ted Williams.
From: SLATE Book Reviews
There are a million ways to watch baseball. Many of them don’t even involve watching, technically. Come spring you’ll be able to find a graybeard on a rocking chair in Bar Harbor who will tell you, as he listens to Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien’s play-by-play come in through the static from Fenway, that he prefers radio to television, because just the sounds of the game—crack of bat, roar of crowd—put a picture of it in his mind. A friend of my dad’s used to say, “Just save me the box scores,” explaining how he followed the season, always a day behind, through the morning papers.
There are a million ways of writing about baseball, too—the prose poetry of Roger Angell, the clear-eyed analysis of Bill James, the storytelling of Michael Lewis. Baseball’s canon is vast and varied. And among the figures from the sport’s century-and-a-half history most worthy of all angles of study, few loom larger than Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox left fielder through the 1940s and ’50s, the last player to post a season’s batting average above .400, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, widely acknowledged as the greatest hitter who ever lived. There are many ways to write about Ted Williams. And longtime Boston Globe editor Ben Bradlee, Jr., touches them all with his exhaustive, 850-page tome of a biography, The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.
It’s very long, this book. Too long, from an immediate-enjoyment standpoint: Some of the 126 pages leading up to Williams’s first major league at-bat bog down in picayune detail, and many of the 300 that chronicle his post-retirement years struggle to earn their keep. But the prose is breezy, the research and reporting are impeccable, and, taking a wider view, the length is easy to forgive. This book very much sets out to be the definitive document of a great, complicated, fascinating person—besides the baseball, Williams was a highly decorated fighter pilot and a world-class fisherman—and ultimately, it succeeds. If it sometimes strains to fit in absolutely everything anyone has ever known about Ted Williams, well, you come to see the value in its doing so. It’s a good book.
The best of it is the baseball. Hitting, specifically. Brimming with accounts of Williams’s swing—a fluid, balletic motion regularly described as “the most natural” that various describers had ever seen—the book approaches the act of a hitting a pitched baseball as high art. Six-foot-3 and always spindly for an athlete, the “Splendid Splinter” mastered the mechanics of batting such that he generated torque wholly disproportionate to his muscle mass. Bradlee collects and assembles awestruck anecdotes from friends, teammates, coaches, and journalists about balls hit harder and farther than anybody had ever seen balls hit before. None of them are not fun to read.
One of the best anecdotes comes from Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, who says the first time he saw Williams hit, “there was something about the way he tied into that ball which all but shocked me out of my seat. It was as though a shock of electricity had just passed through my body. In that fleeting moment, as he swung at the ball, I became convinced that here was one of the most natural hitters in the history of baseball. I’d have staked my life on it.”
Williams never liked the term: “Natural hitter my ass,” he said. He’d worked and studied, practiced countless hours, days, perfecting his swing. He was obsessed. The same way a million other American boys have been obsessed over the years, of course. But Williams’ drive, Bradlee argues, was intensified by the escape baseball provided from a neglected, impoverished childhood in southern California.
“When I wasn’t sleeping or eating,” he quotes Williams saying of his growing up, “I was practicing swinging. If I didn’t have a bat, I’d take any piece of wood, or make a bat of paper and swing it.” “Or,” Bradlee continues, for him, “he’d just swing an imaginary bat. If he passed a storefront that had a big, clear window, he liked to stop, take a few swings, and check his reflection out. When he did this, he’d be in his own world, oblivious to the merchants inside bemused by the vainglorious displays. The truth is, Ted didn’t want to just be good. He wanted to look good.” (It worked.)
Once Williams makes the majors—he joined the Red Sox for his rookie season in 1939—and Bradlee has national newspaper stories to draw from, the book really starts to sing. “In his third game, Ted had a double and single, but it was his fourth game, on Sunday, April 23, that served as his true Fenway Park coming out party,” Bradlee writes. “In his second time up against Philadelphia’s LeRoy ‘Tarzan’ Parmelee, Ted scorched a ball into the right-center-field bleachers, just to the right of the outfield triangle, about 430 feet away, for his first home run. Burt Whitman of the Boston Herald called it ‘as harshly a hit a line drive as anybody ever sent into that sector, not excepting even Babe Ruth …’ ”
Williams, handsome and charming—though egotistical, to put it mildly, and comically uncouth—was a magnet for press, an instant star. A slump at the start of his second season turned things sour, however, and an antagonistic relationship with fans and journalists alike became a dark theme of his career. Not that it hindered his production. He was an angry person, extremely self-critical and, at times, mean to others. It seemed to fuel his excellence.
He had a flair for the dramatic, and his heroics play out thrillingly on the page. The home run he hit to win the 1941 All-Star Game. The six hits he collected the last day of that season, after choosing to play in a doubleheader in Philadelphia, rather than sit out to preserve his (last ever) .400 average. The home run he hit on Sept. 28, 1960, in the last at-bat of his career. (That one immortalized, three weeks later, in John Updike’s classic New Yorker essay, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”) Bradlee relays such moments well. “The crowd screamed anew,” he writes of Williams’ exit off the field in the last inning of his last game, “but Ted ran right through the cheers, still unwilling to bow to convention. As he passed shortstop, he said to Pumpsie Green, ‘Isn’t this a crock of shit?’ Green laughed.” And the context Bradlee provides—the heavy detailing, the quotes and anecdotes—brings the reader inside Williams’ psychology, to the extent that that’s possible.
Sure, you might scratch your head on Page 34, when you learn that Williams’ paternal aunt Alice had a dog, part coyote, named Cap, that her friend Roselle Romano thought “was a nasty thing,” wondering why you’ve learned this—especially as it becomes apparent that you will be learning little else about Alice or Cap or Roselle, or many of the other myriad members of the extended family who get a quick sketch early on. And you might have trouble keeping straight which horrible thing Williams said to which of the three wives he divorced before he settled down with Louise Kaufman, with whom he lived for 24 years and to whom he also said some horrible things. But by the time you get to the sad, disturbing end of the story, where you learn lots of sad, disturbing things about Williams’ children, and the legal fight that broke out around his will, and a “cryonics” company called Alcor that freezes human corpses in giant thermoses called “Dewars” in the hopes of unfreezing them in the future, once medical science has advanced to a point where it can bring them back to life, and you read the unpleasant and difficult-to-believe sentence, “With these fundamental issues resolved, Darwin picked up a carving knife and began to slice off Williams’s head,” you’re happy for everything you’ve learned in this giant book. Because it has portrayed the man in full.
Jacoby Ellsbury is just the latest in a long line of Red Sox who have defected (or been shipped to… let’s be fair) to the Bronx.
Yes, Babe Ruth is most famous and spawned the 86 year ‘curse’ that generations of New Englanders swore would (and in many cases did) outlive them. But to be quite serious and objective… The Babe was hardly alone.
Herb Pennock: Somewhat overshadowed by his corpulent teammate (see above), the Hall of Fame lefty went from serviceable starter with the Sawx to an ace for a Bombers ballclub that won its first World Series title in 1923 … and a few more after that.
Sad Sam Jones: Jones, dealt to Boston for Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, won 23 games for the Sox in 1921. So of course that December he was traded to the Yankees. Jones had a bumpy ride in the Bronx, but he did post 21 wins and a no-hitter for the 1923 champs.
Joe Dugan: Boston shipped Jumping Joe to New York midway through the 1922 season, and there he helped the Yanks win their second AL pennant. He’d play in five World Series in pinstripes overall. (The Bombers won three of them.)
Waite Hoyt: In case you thought the ’20s weren’t rough enough for Red Sox fans, this Hall of Fame hurler joined the Yanks in 1921 after two seasons in Boston, averaging 18 wins over the next eight seasons and winning a league-high 22 games for the famed ’27 Bombers.
Red Ruffing: Ruffing lost 20-plus games two years in a row for the Red Sox in 1928 and ’29 — then won 20 or more for the Yankees in four straight seasons, starting in 1936, en route to the Hall of Fame.
Sparky Lyle: Lyle won a Cy Young in 1977 and played on two Yankees title teams. The guys the Bombers traded for him? Danny Cater and Mario Guerrero, who hit a collective .252 in Boston and never played more than 93 games in any of their seasons with the Sox.
Luis Tiant: Unlike the previous players on our list, Tiant joined the Yankees in the twilight of his career, winning 21 games in two seasons in the Bronx (1979 and ’80) after spending several years as the ace of the Red Sox.
Wade Boggs: Boggs put up most of his numbers in Boston, but when it came time for the Hall of Fame third baseman to finally win a title, he did it in the Bronx — famously riding around Yankee Stadium on a horse in 1996.
Roger Clemens: Rocket won three Cy Young Awards in Boston, compared to just one with the Yankees. But two World Series titles (in 1999 and 2000) in the Bronx more than made up for it.
Tom Gordon: Flash became a folk hero in Boston as a starter turned All-Star closer in 1998. He even helped inspire a Stephen King novel, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” Did that girl become a Yankees fan when he joined the Bombers’ bullpen six years later?
Doug Mientkiewicz: Eye Chart’s career doesn’t stack up against many of the players on our list, but when the Red Sox finally won a title in 2004, he was the toast of Beantown. The Yanks picked him up in 2007 after he’d had season-long stints with the Mets and Royals.
Johnny Damon: The Caveman tormented the Yanks while a Sox star on the ’04 champs — then crushed Boston fans when he went clean-shaven and signed with the Bombers in 2006. His baserunning heroics in the 2009 World Series won’t soon be forgotten, by either fan base.
Derek Lowe: Lowe was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, helping the Sox break the Bambino’s curse. After pitching for the Dodgers, Braves and Indians, Lowe signed with the Yankees midway through the 2012 season.
Kevin Youkilis: Youk became a Yank prior to the 2013 season, but a back injury limited The Greek God of Walks to just 28 games (and eight bases on balls, if you’re scoring at home).
The Veterans Committee portion of the Hall of Fame induction process doesn’t generate the same uproar as the Baseball Writers vote does. But the people it elects are still full-fledged members of Cooperstown, with their little plaques right there next to Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth. Last year, the Veterans Committee elected an owner, an umpire and a player — all of whom had been dead since 1939.
This year, the committee is looking at what it calls the Expansion Era ballot, for candidates whose greatest contributions came in 1973 and later. The last time the VC looked at this era, in 2011, only executive Pat Gillick was elected. This year’s ballot will likely produce more Hall of Famers; sadly, however, none are likely to be players. The 12 finalists who the 16-man committee (and it’s all men, no women) will consider includes six players and six others. You need 12 of 16 votes to get elected. Let’s take a closer look.
The managers: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Billy Martin, Joe Torre
Even by the historically lax standards of the Veterans Committee, Cox, La Russa and Torre are obvious Hall of Fame managers, and I suspect all three will get in. Cox is fourth on the all-time wins list and made 16 playoff appearances with the Blue Jays and Braves, although he won just one World Series. Cox finished 503 wins above .500 — the only managers with a higher total are John McGraw and Joe McCarthy. You can hold the the only-one-title against Cox, but Whitey Herzog made it in 2010 with just one title, fewer wins and a worse winning percentage. La Russa is third on the all-time wins list and has three World Series titles. Torre had a borderline Hall of Fame career as a player; include his four championships as a manager and he’s the third lock.
Martin is the interesting candidate, but he has no chance to get in with this group also on the ballot. Martin is 35th on the wins list and won just one title. What we do know about him, however, is that he was arguably the best turn-around artist in managerial history. Now, part of that was because nobody could stand to have him as their manager for more than five minutes, so he got a lot of opportunities. But consider:
- Took over the Twins in 1969 and they improved from 79 to 97 wins and won the AL West. (Fired after the season, in part for getting in a fight with one of his pitchers.)
- Took over the Tigers in 1971 and they improved from 79 to 91 wins. In 1972, they won the AL East. (Fired in 1973 after ordering his pitchers to throw spitballs in protest of Gaylord Perry allegedly doing so for Cleveland.)
- Took over Rangers in September of 1973. The club improved from 57-105 to 84-78 in 1974. (Fired in 1975 after a confrontation with owner Brad Corbett.)
- Took over the Yankees late in 1975. Club improved from 83 wins to 97 in ’76 and won its first pennant since 1964. In 1977, the Yankees won the World Series. (Resigned in 1978 after fighting with Reggie Jackson during a game and rumors that George Steinbrenner tried to trade Martin to the White Sox.)
- After managing the Yankees again for part of the 1979 season, he took over the A’s in 1980. They had lost 108 games in 1979. They won 83 and then made the playoffs in the strike season of 1981. (Fired after losing 94 games in 1982.)
Then came all the ridiculousness with the Yankees in the ’80s. Still, it’s an impressive track record, although it came at a cost: Martin overworked his pitchers (most notably with a young staff in Oakland that soon fell apart) and none of the teams he managed sustained any long-term success. In the end; not enough career wins, only one title and his other issues (drinking and brawling) that might have affected his teams. Plus: We have enough managers in already, with three more on the way.
The owner: George Steinbrenner
The Boss was on the last Expansion Era ballot and received fewer than eight votes. He was a bully, banned from baseball for paying a gambler to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, and ran the franchise into the ground in the late ’80s and early ’90s (only to see it revived during his banishment). His team also won six World Series titles (and a seventh after he had given up day-to-day operations to his sons), and there’s no denying he was one of the most famous people in the sport during his reign. No Thanks, I’ll pass, but there’s definitely an argument to put him in.
The union guy: Marvin Miller
Miller fell one vote short of election last time around. Since then, he passed away and you almost feel as though the time to honor the man was missed. He’s no doubt one of the most important figures in baseball history; the union leader who helped free the players from the reserve clause and enter the era of free agency. Does that make him a Hall of Famer? Nobody ever paid a penny to watch Marvin Miller in action. But if you can vote in Bowie Kuhn, you should put in Marvin Miller. FYI: There are four executives on the committee (Paul Beeston, Andy MacPhail, Dave Montgomery and Jerry Reinsdorf), so if they all vote against him, the other 12 (which includes six Hall of Fame players) have to vote for him.
The glove: Dave Concepcion
Concepcion received eight votes in 2010, so he is the highest returning player candidate. With a career WAR of 40.0, he doesn’t have a strong statistical argument. There is also another shortstop candidate with obviously better credentials: Alan Trammell, who is still on the BBWAA ballot. Concepcion’s case basically comes down to being part of the Big Red Machine, although he was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. The Reds already have one marginal Hall of Famer in Tony Perez; We don’t need another.
The strong jaw: Steve Garvey
He was also on the last ballot and received fewer than eight votes. Career WAR of 37.6, only one season above 5.0. His case is that he was regarded as very valuable while active — he won an MVP Award and finished second another year and sixth three other times. It’s kind of a Jim Rice argument. Won’t get in as Keith Hernandez would be a better candidate to discuss at first base.
The guy they named the surgery after: Tommy John
Three pitching lines:
John: 288-231, 3.34 ERA, 111 ERA+, 62.3 WAR
Bert Blyleven: 287-250, 3.31 ERA, 118 ERA+, 96.5 WAR
Jack Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+, 43.8 WAR
Three pitchers with similar career win-loss records, but vastly different values by Wins Above Replacement. All three got about 20 percent of the vote their first years on the BBWAA ballot. Blyleven stayed there for a long time until the statistical argument became clear that he deserved Cooperstown; score one for the statheads. Morris has slowly climbed closer to 75 percent and may get in this year; score one for the old schoolers. John never really moved from his initial 22 percent.
By WAR, John is in the gray area; a good candidate but not a strong one. The argument against him is that he pitched forever but was never great. His peak WAR season was 5.6 and he had four years above 5.0. But just four others above 3.0. A lot of 2.4 and 1.5 kinds of seasons. Good No. 3 starter who was durable but rarely an ace. I wouldn’t vote for him, although Blyleven’s election in 2011 may help him.
The Cobra: Dave Parker
Parker is new to the ballot, with Al Oliver, Rusty Staub, Ron Guidry and Vida Blue getting bumped off. Parker has some interesting career numbers: .290 average, 339 home runs, 1,439 RBIs, more than 2,700 hits. He won an MVP Award in 1978 and deserved it. He had a very high peak from 1975 to 1979, but then wasted several years and wasn’t really contributing much after that despite his high RBI totals.
Is Parker the best outfielder not in the Hall of Fame? Clearly not. Even leaving off all the players still on the BBWAA ballot, there’s another right fielder I would have preferred to see on this ballot: the criminally underrated Dwight Evans.
Evans is sort of the opposite of Parker. Parker had his best years in his 20s; Evans in his 30s. Parker never walked; Evans built a lot of value by walking (708 more career walks). Parker got fat; Evans stayed in tremendous shape. Parker ended up wasting a lot of his ability; Evans got the most out of his.
The submariner: Dan Quisenberry
His career wasn’t really so different from Bruce Sutter’s, except Sutter had more facial hair and “invented” a pitch. Consider Quisenberry’s run in Cy Young voting: fifth, no votes (1.73 ERA, though), third, second, second, third. He also finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting in four of those seasons. That said … voters of that era dramatically overrated relief pitchers, even though they were pitching a lot more innings than today. But for a six-year run, he was as good as anybody.
The catcher: Ted Simmons
He’s back after receiving fewer than eight votes. One of the better hitting catchers, with a .285 career average (hit above .300 seven times), 248 home runs and 1,389 RBIs. He played second fiddle to Johnny Bench in the National League in the 1970s but, hey, not everybody can be Johnny Bench.
Two of the people on the committee are Paul Molitor, Simmons’ teammate with the Brewers, and Whitey Herzog, who traded Simmons from the Cardinals to the Brewers after the two feuded and Simmons’ defense had started declining. So one could see Molitor arguing for Simmons and Herzog against Simmons.
Either way, it probably doesn’t matter, as Simmons’ chances of getting in are slim.
The results will be announced at the winter meetings in December.
The opportunity to see the Boston Red Sox win a World Series at home for the first time in a lifetime has turned Game 6 at Fenway Park into the most expensive local ticket in the city’s history.
As of 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, the average list price on the resale market for a ticket to Wednesday night’s game was $1,860, according to TiqIQ, a ticket tracking company.
Bleacher seats to the game, which could have been had for $300 last week, were selling for $1,100 on Tuesday morning.
On Monday night, someone who wanted two of the best seats in the house paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles.
“There was this type of excitement in 2004 for the Red Sox home games because people thought it would never come again,” said Jim Holzman of Ace Ticket, a Boston-based brokerage that has been in business for 33 years.
The Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, ending it on the road both times. The last time the Red Sox won it all in Boston was with a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 11, 1918.
“People want to see them win it here,” Holzman said. “That’s what has made this the biggest ticket we’ve ever seen. It’s the Super Bowl except people don’t have to pay $1,000 for a hotel and $2,000 for airfare.”
Holzman said fans began buying tickets in earnest Monday night after the Red Sox scored in the top of the first inning during their 3-1 Game 5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Prices were going up $50 an inning,” Holzman said.
Let’s take a look back some highlights of that infamous 1918 Series:
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to 1903. The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series; the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history. Along with the 1906 and 1907 World Series, the 1918 World Series is one of only three Fall Classics where neither team hit a home run.
The Series was held early in September because of the World War I “Work or Fight” order that forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September.
The Chicago home games in the series were played at Comiskey Park, which had a greater seating capacity than Weeghman Park, the prior home of the Federal League Chicago Whales that the Cubs were now using and which would be rechristened Wrigley Field in 1925. The Red Sox had played their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series in the more expansive Braves Field, but they returned to Fenway Park for the 1918 series.
Game 1 of the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. During the seventh inning stretch, the band began playing the song due to the fact the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 1931, and during World War II its playing would become a regular pregame feature of baseball games and other sporting events. The winning pitcher of Game 1 was none other than Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.
The Red Sox, who had won the American League but lost the Series in 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986, finally won the World Series in 2004 and then won again in 2007. The drought of 86 years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino. The alleged curse came to be when the Red Sox traded the superbly talented but troublesome Babe Ruth (who was instrumental in their 1918 victory) to the New York Yankees for cash after the 1919 season.
Wednesday, September 11, 1918 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance for Game 6 at Fenway on Wednesday, September 11, was down from over 24,000 on Tuesday to a mere 15,238, but the Red Sox went home happy. Max Flack’s third-inning error allowed two Sox runs to score, which were all they needed for a 2–1 victory and the World’s Championship of 1918 behind Carl Mays’ second win of the Series.
|WP: Carl Mays (2–0) LP: Lefty Tyler (1–1)|
After Game 6, it would be some 87 years until the Cubs and Red Sox would play again. A three-game interleague matchup at Wrigley Field began June 10, 2005 and was Boston’s first ever visit to the park. The Cubs would not return to Fenway Park for nearly 94 years until a three-game interleague matchup beginning May 20, 2011.
If David Ortiz gets into the Hall of Fame, people will point to the 2013 World Series as the stretch that put him over the top.
Before this postseason, Ortiz had already established himself as a clutch playoff performer en route to Red Sox championships in 2004 (two walk-off hits) and 2007, but this October might just be his best one yet. We’ll acknowledge that his ALCS performance was subpar overall (just two hits in six games), but one of those hits was a Game 2 grand slam that rallied the Sox past the Tigers and served as the turning point in the series.
In the World Series, he’s been untouchable, as locked in as perhaps any player in postseason history.
Consider the following:
• He is 11-of-15 (.733 batting average) against the Cardinals with six runs batted in, four extra-base hits, four walks and no strikeouts. He has an OPS of 2.017 (let that one sink in). Those 11 hits are two shy of the record for most in a World Series, which is shared by Bobby Richardson (1964 Yankees), Lou Brock (1968 Cardinals) and former Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett (1986 Red Sox). The only player other than Ortiz in major league history to reach base (by hit, walk or HBP) at least 15 times over the first five games of a World Series is Barry Bonds in 2002.
• As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .205 in the World Series. If you take away Ortiz, that number drops to .151.
• Ortiz became the third player to reach base safely in nine straight plate appearances in the World Series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Joe Gordon (1939/1941 Yankees) and Billy Hatcher (1990 Reds). Ortiz and Hatcher are the only two to do so in a single World Series.
“I’ve got my mindset. I’ve been playing this game for too long, and when I go to the plate, I try to look for a strike and try not to get out of it,” Ortiz said after Monday night’s Game 5 victory. “And that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing all year.”
• He became the first Red Sox player ever with consecutive three-hit games in the World Series. According to Elias, Ortiz (37) is the oldest player in MLB history with back-to-back three-hit games in the World Series.
• With his first-inning RBI in Game 5, Ortiz now has 14 career RBIs in the World Series. That ties the team record, held by Dwight Evans.
• Among players with at least 40 World Series at-bats, Ortiz has the highest OPS in major league history.
• Unlike other Cardinals pitchers, Game 5 starter Adam Wainwright challenged Ortiz instead of working around him. Wainwright changed his windup to try to disturb Ortiz’s timing. The slugger still went 3-for-4.
“I wasn’t paying any attention to that,” Ortiz said. “To be honest with you, he threw me some tough pitches tonight. He was throwing me cutters in. And I know that pretty much after he gets ahead with two strikes, he wants to strike me out with a breaking ball. So you make up your mind. It’s a battle when you face that kind of pitcher, as good as he is, and as good as the rest of the pitchers that they have — they have a great pitching staff. And if you try to look for everything they throw, you definitely are not going to hit anything.”
Ortiz has been at his best in the seasons in which the Red Sox reached the World Series (perhaps not coincidentally). In 2004, he reached base in 13 of 14 games and had back-to-back walk-off hits in the ALCS against the Yankees. He had 19 RBIs during that playoff run with a .400 average, .515 OBP and 1.278 OPS. In 2007, he put up a similar line: He reached base in 13 of 14 games, had a .370 average, .508 OBP and 1.204 OPS.
Even factoring in his below-standard ALCS performance this October, he has reached base in 13 of 15 games and has a .360 average, .476 OBP and 1.196 OPS.
“I was born for this,” Ortiz said after Boston’s Game 5 victory.
|> Minimum 40 ABs|
David Ortiz In Postseasons In Which Red Sox Reached World Series
|2004||13 of 14 games||.400||.515||1.278|
|2007||13 of 14 games||.370||.508||1.204|
|2013||11 of 15 games||.360||.476||1.196|
|> In 2013 World Series, Ortiz is 11 of 15 (.733) with a .750 OBP and 2.017 OPS|
Yes, that really was Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio serving as a coach on the Oakland A’s bench.
And for as many folks who either never realized it, or forgot, it was a duty that ‘Joltin’ Joe’, the ‘Yankee Clipper’, never performed in New York.
In 1967 Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley hired the Hall of Famer as the team’s vice-president. DiMaggio would also serve as a coach for the newly transplanted Oakland Athletics. DiMaggio needed two more years of baseball service to qualify for the league’s maximum pension allowance.
So, while there was a monetary reason (as there was usually was in Joe’s motivation) for Joe D.’s service to the relocating Bay Area A’s, he also stated a few times over his life that he wasn’t asked by the Yankees to take any type of official personnel position.
And if you didn’t know about Joe, than you may have not known or just forgotten about another Hall of Famer, forever linked to his single team, who was never asked to take an official personnel position… that’s right, Ted Williams.
When Ted retired from the game in 1960, many thought he was headed for a lifetime of fishing. Williams helped new Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski in hitting and adapting to life as the left-field superstar in Boston. Though he mostly (sometime’s to Carl’s frustration) talked and taught about hitting. That was the case for a few years until new Washington Senators owner Bob Short came calling.
Short. who outbid a group headed by Bob Hope, then named himself general manager and wanted, no needed Ted to manage his struggling Senators. Ted wasn’t interested. Short tried again. Teddy said no again. Short brought in AL President and former Red Sox manager Joe Cronin for help. Joe called Ted in Florida and told him, “baseball needs you.” How could Ted say no to his former manager and a salary of $1.25 million over five years?
On April 7, 1969 Ted Williams managed his first game as the skipper of the Senators. Although Williams had never coached or managed at any level of baseball, he seemed to light a spark under the once-moribund Senators. Williams kept them in contention for most of the season, finishing above .500 for the first time in franchise history; their 86–76 record would be its only winning season in Washington. As you would expect from the greatest hitter of all time, Ted’s immediate impact on the Senators came with the hitters. In that first season the team’s batting average went up by 25 points. Attendance soared and he was chosen “Manager of the Year” after that season. Unfortunately the following years did not go as well. 1970 brought pitching problems to Washington and the Senators were below .500 once again at 70 – 92. Year three of Teddy’s regime was even worse with the club making bad trades and finishing the season with a record of 63 – 96. The honeymoon was over and Bob Short wanted out of Washington. He petitioned and won approval to move the team to Arlington, Texas. Ted spent one year in Texas with the Rangers, hated it and resigned at the end of the 1972 season.
Like many great players, Williams became impatient with ordinary athletes’ abilities and attitudes, particularly those of pitchers, whom he admitted he never respected.
I find it interesting how Hall of Fame players can be treated or handled by their teams following their playing days. Is it ego? Is it a control factor? Are irritable prima-donna’s on the field just as bad on the end of the bench? Or do God’s just not make good managers? Sure, you want guys like Ted and Joe or Babe Ruth as spring training instructors, guest-roaming organizational coaches and so on… but take a look at Ryne Sandberg. A Hall of Famer for the Cubs, he made it expressly clear his intention to manage in the majors… and manage the Cubs. While accumulating great minor league numbers, credentials and championships, Chicago let him walk. If anything, Ted’s tenure as Washington/Texas manager (like Wayne Gretky’s in Phoenix) goes to show that a manager’s HOF credentials aren’t always as important as the talent they have to direct on the field.
This installment of the investigative process will focus on members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who have been members of the storied Scarlett Hose, obviously with a bit more focus on those who are enshrined with the ‘B’ on their cap.
So here is the over all list….
… Players listed in bold are enshrined with the Red Sox ‘B’ upon their cap.
|Player||Years played with the Red Sox|
|Bobby Doerr||1937-44, 1946-51|
|Dennis Eckersley||1978-84, 1998|
|Carlton Fisk||1969, 1971-80|
|Ted Williams||1939-42, 1946-60|
A few notes: Jimmy Collins does not have a cap in his HOF plaque, however the Hall lists his primary team as Boston. Andre Dawson was omitted from the official Red Sox listing of former Sox in the HOF, however I’m including him because he did in fact play there… I saw it, with my own eyes. Jimmie Foxx is enshrined wearing a Red Sox cap, however the Hall, and rightfully so, recognizes his primary team as the Philadelphia Athletics… the same can be said of Lefty Grove.
And here is the official recording of the retired numbers (excluding Jackie Robinson’s #42 retired by Major League Baseball for the simple fact he was not a member of the Boston Red Sox, even if historically he probably should have been)…
The retired Red Sox numbers, along with Jackie Robinson’s #42 that was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, are posted on the right field facade in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox policy on retiring uniform numbers is based on the following criteria:
- Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
- At least 10 years played with the Red Sox
- Played 14 seasons in Majors, all with Red Sox (1937-44, 1946-51), before retiring due to a back injury.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
- Tied for AL lead with Dom DiMaggio in triples in 1950 (11).
- Led AL in slugging percentage in 1944 (.528).
- Named The Sporting News AL Player of the Year in 1944.
- Hit .409 (9-22) in 1946 World Series to lead Red Sox.
Joe Cronin – #4
- First modern-day player to become a league president.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956.
- Compiled .301 average in 20 MLB seasons.
- Affiliated with Red Sox for 24 seasons as player/manager, manager, and general manager.
- Leads all Red Sox managers with 1071 wins.
- Managed Red Sox to AL pennant in 1946.
- Holds AL record for pinch-hit homers in a season, 5 (1943).
- Became 1st player to hit pinch-hit homes in both games of a doubleheader, June 17, 1943 (in a stretch when he hit three three-run pinch-hit homers in four at-bats).
- Participated in 12 All-Star Games for AL, six as a player.
Johnny Pesky – #6
- Signed by the Red Sox in 1940.
- Officially associated with the Red Sox for 21 years as a player, coach, and manager.
- Compiled .307 average in 12 MLB seasons.
- Known as “Mr. Red Sox”.
Carl Yastrzemski – #8
- Named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
- Along with Johnny Bench became the 18th and 19th players elected to Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
- Received 95 percent of Hall of Fame voting, the seventh highest in the history of voting at that time.
- First Little League player to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
- Won AL Triple Crown in 1967.
- Most games lifetime in the AL with 3,308.
- AL MVP in 1967.
- Seven-time Gold Glove winner.
- Tied MLB record with 1.000 fielding percentage in 1977.
- Selected Outstanding Player of 1970 All-Star Game.
- Played 167 consecutive errorless games.
- Only AL player with 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Ted Williams – #9
- Named to starting outfield of Greatest Living Team, 1969.
- Named MLB Player of Decade for 1950s.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.
- AL MVP in 1946, 49.
- Won AL Triple Crown in 1942, 47.
- Led AL in batting six times.
- Led AL in home runs four times.
- Led AL in total bases five times.
- Led AL in walks eight times.
- Led AL in slugging percentage nine times.
- Holds MLB record for most successive times reaching base safely, 16, in Sept. 1957 (2 singles, 4 HR, 9 BB, 1 HBP).
- Oldest MLB player to win batting title, batting .388 in 1957 at age 39.
- Won batting title again in 1958 at age 40.
- Voted Greatest Red Sox Player of all time by fans, 1969 and 1982.
- Holds MLB rookie records for most walks (107) and RBIs (145).
- Holds Red Sox record with 17 grand slams.
- Debuted August 19, 1974.
- Named AL Silver Slugger in 1984 and 1985.
- Named AL MVP in 1978.
- Named to eight All-Star teams.
- Led AL with hits (213) in 1978.
- Led AL in home runs in 1977 (39), 1978 (46), and 1983 (39).
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Carlton Fisk – #27
- Carlton Fisk will always be remembered as the player who hit the historic, 12th-inning, game-winning homer in Fenway Park off Reds pitcher Pat Darcy in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Besides being the hero on MLB’s biggest stage in a game that has been referred to as “the greatest World Series game ever played,” Fisk had many other memorable highlights during his 11-year career as a member of the Red Sox.
- Red Sox first draft choice and fourth overall selection in the January 1967 Winter Baseball Amateur Draft.
- Made his MLB debut on September 18, 1969.
- Was the first unanimous winner of the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1972 (.293, 22 HR, 61 RBIs). He was also tied for the AL lead with nine triples.
- Won the 1972 AL Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence.
- Seven-time All-Star, including four games started. He was voted as a starter five times but was replaced in 1974 due to a knee injury.
- Was the AL Honorary All-Star Game captain on July 13, 1999 at Fenway Park.
- Is the all-time Red Sox leader in games caught with 990.
- Red Sox Hall of Fame Inductee on September 8, 1997.
Now obviously, Johnny Pesky is the only member of Retired Row who is not a member of the Hall but was retired due to his decades of service to the Olde Towne Team… and rightfully so, however that does leave the ‘door open’ so to speak for other players and a whole sh!tload of “Why not him..”, “He should be..” so on and so forth. And with a few of the omitted Hall of Famer’s not on Retired Row, they may just have a case…. but I’ve covered this very argument in earlier editions of this same blog and this particular entry is not for that reason….
So let’s recap. The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. The All-Time Red Sox leaders in statistics. The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retired Row.
The basics are set.
Ted and Yaz were the only real givens.
Now we get to the difficult part. Who gets added to the list and where do they get placed? Should it be a ‘Top 5’ or a ‘Top 10’? Aside from a minimum number of at bats or appearances, what qualifications should allow for a player to be named ‘Top’ or ‘Best of’ for the Red Sox? Championships are certainly out the door otherwise we’d have to disqualify one of the Greatest Players to Never Win a Title in Williams, and that renders pennants useless as well. If we go just on statistics, it may give an advantage to players who climbed the numbers ladder due to longevity and not superb ability.. but if they didn’t have the ability, one would think they never would have had the longevity.
Rice. Clemens. Evans. The Million Dollar Outfield of Speaker, Hooper and Lewis. Ortiz. Ruth. Vaughn. The Teammates of DiMaggio, Pesky and Doerr. Lynn. Pedroia. Collins. Schilling. Young. Foxx. Tiant. Garciaparra. Varitek. Boggs. Wakefield. Cronin. Grove. Youkilis. Fisk… to name a few.