Tagged: Bill Buckner

#24, RF, Dwight ‘Dewey’ Evans

Well, New Year’s usually signals a few things in the baseball universe.  The Hot Stove Season is reaching its stretch run.  The thought of Spring Trading begins to warm the soul.  And perhaps more controversially, The Hall of Fame announcement is upon us.

Every year, we look to the BBWAA to give us a reason to cheer, p!ss and moan or just grit our teeth and throw up our hands with the whole damn process.  After all, the guys you love don’t get their recognition, the guys you hate seem to ‘slide’ in and guys you just couldn’t care about grab some spotlight.  But we’re used to it.

However, in the last few years, the landscape has changed.  The Steroid Era has shed a new light upon players who for lack of ‘super’ stardom, media attention and just plain ‘average’ consistency were overlooked, passed-up or underappreciated for their efforts.  Players such as Ron Santo (finally, but posthumously) have received their Veterans Committee due, while players like Keith Hernandez, Dwight Evans, Alan Trammell and Tim Raines have been on the outside looking in.  With PED playboys like Big Mac, Sammy Sosa, Palmero and Jeff Bagwell (rightly or not, the shadow covers him) taking up space on the ballot, it let’s periphery guys like Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Lee Smith and Jack Morris get a little more time in the thought process over all.  Unfortunately, Donnie Baseball and Murphy were superstars who produced consistently but for a shorter span of time (unfortunately, the beloved Luis Tiant may fall into this category) .  Smith was a journeyman who, though possessing all the qualities of a big, menacing closer, seems to have been hurt by his many stops around the league and having no definitive ‘superstar moment’.  Jack Morris… well, he’s a borderline a Hall of Famer.  Yes, he won 20 plus games three times and played on World Series winning teams, catching media spotlight fire with the ’91 Twins & ’92 Jays for example, but he wasn’t the cog that ran the gears.        

Then there’s Edgar Martinez.  Easily one of the better hitters of his era (amidst the Steroid Era) who may have more than one glaring mark against him.  First, he played in Seattle (yes, so did Griffey Jr., A-Rod and Randy Johnson… but they left), not a media market or a perennial contender.  Second, and most importantly, he played the majority of his career as a Designated Hitter.  Oh, my error, the Designated Hitter.   A standard set so high, the annual award for best DH in the AL is the Edgar Martinez Award.  But, DH doesn’t count, it’s an imaginary position created by the Wizard of Oz (you know, a designated spot in the batting order to allow aging, over-the-hill superstars who couldn’t field a position some twilight time to earn a paycheck and pad the HOF stats) and doesn’t deserve consideration.  They’re part timers.  A pinch-hitter who gets off the bench four or five times a day.  Who cares if he produces HOF numbers, right?

So, let’s take a look at one of the most under-appreciated members of the Boston Red Sox: Dwight Evans.  (keep in mind these are his totals during his 19 year tenure with the Scarlett Hose.  Dewey finished his career with a one year stint in Baltimore.)

  •     Games played:  2505       Rank: 2nd  (1st: Yaz / 3rd Ted)
  •     Hits: 2373                          Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th Boggs)
  •     Average: .272                    Rank: Outside top 10  ( Yaz .285 / Doerr .288)
  •     RBI: 1346                           Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Doerr)
  •     HR: 379                              Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Ortiz*)
  •     Runs: 1435                         Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Ted / 5th: Rice)
  •     Base on Balls: 1337          Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Yaz / 4th: Boggs)
  •     OPS:  .842                          Rank: Outside top 10 (Yaz has an .841 / Rice .854)

So, looking at the numbers,  we see obvious questions and answers to the argument.  He is, for the most part, sandwiched between teammates who are enshrined in Cooperstown (Captain Carl, Jim Ed., Boggs) and legendary HOF’ers like Ted and Bobby Doerr.  The second half of his career was statistically more productive than the first and was consistently so until his retirement.  During years when players begin winding down, Dewey was in cruise control and producing at a steady clip.

Was he overshadowed?  An integral member of the 1975 team, he was a lesser star than Yaz, Tiant, Pudge, Lee and The Goldust Twins.  After Lynn and Fisk went West, Tiant let go, Yaz retired and guys like Eck and Lansford come and gone, it was Dewey who came into his own offensively while continuing his defensive excellence.  Again, superstars surrounded him.  Rice, Hurst, Boggs Buckner and Clemens.  Evans simply continued to perform.

During the 1980′s (the latter half of his MLB career which officially began in 1972)  in his playing age years of 28 (1980) through age year 37 (1989):

  •      3 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Hits.
  •      4 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Doubles.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in RBI.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in HR, leading the league in 1981.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in OPS% , leading the league twice.
  •      6 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Runs scored, leading the league in 1984.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Bases on Balls, leading the league three times.

Evans appeared on the AL MVP ballot 5 times (all in the 1980’s) with 4 times placing in the top 10.  Finished 3rd over-all in 1981 behind winner Rollie Fingers and Ricky Henderson.

8 Gold Gloves.  3 All-Star Games.  2 Silver Sluggers.

His lifetime WAR (wins above replacement) is 61.8  (Mind you, this currently ranks 141st ALL TIME in MLB)

Looking at his basic stats or his Sabermetric stats place him in an above average category.  Dwight was included on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot in 1997 (5.9%), 1998 (10.4%) and 1999 (3.6%) before dropping off due to insufficient support under the official rules of balloting (under 5% in a given year or reaching 15th year on ballot).  His election, like that of Ron Santos’, would be a Veterans committee pick.  Currently a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Dwight’s number 24 (originally 40 as a rookie) is still in circulation.

Honored Numbers… honorable mention…

A few more former members of the Boston Americans who made an impact while in Scarlett Hose for consideration.  Again, they’re members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame and on the Bubble.

And yes, there just might be yet another controversial pick….

 

Bill Lee, nicknamed “Spaceman”, played for the Boston Red Sox from 1969-1978 and on November 7, 2008, Lee was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame as the team’s record-holder for most games pitched by a left-hander (321) and the third-highest win total (94) by a Red Sox southpaw. In addition to his baseball experience, Lee is known for his adherence to counterculture behavior, his antics both on and off the field, and his use of the Leephus pitch, a personalized variation of the eephus pitch. Lacking a good fastball, Lee developed off-speed pitches, including a variation of the Eephus pitch. The Leephus pitch or Space Ball, the names for Lee’s take on the eephus pitch, follows a high, arcing trajectory and is very slow. Lee was used almost exclusively as a relief pitcher during the first four years of his career. During that period, Lee appeared in 125 games, starting in nine, and compiled a 19-11 record. In 1973, he was used primarily as a starting pitcher. He started 33 of the 38 games in which he appeared and went 17-11 with a 2.95 Earned Run Average, and was named to the American League All-Star team. He followed 1973 with two more 17-win seasons. He started two games in the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His first start came in Game 2 of the series which the Reds won 3-2. In Game 7, Lee shut out the Reds for five innings and the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead. Lee left with a blister and the Red Sox lost the game by a score of 4-3, and the 1975 World Series four games to three. During the 1978 season, Lee and Red Sox manager Don Zimmer engaged in an ongoing public feud over the handling of the pitching staff. Lee’s countercultural attitude and lack of respect for authority clashed with Zimmer’s old-school, conservative personality. Lee and a few other of the more anti-authority Red Sox formed what they called “The Buffalo Heads” as a response to the manager. Zimmer retaliated during the season by relegating Lee to the bullpen and convincing management to trade away some of them, including Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and Bernie Carbo. Jersey #37

 

Bruce Hurst and Roger Clemens will forever be remembered as one of the best one-two punches in the Red Sox history. Hurst was a specialist at changing speeds. Consistently good but never overpowering hitters, his fastball was hard enough to get in on right-handed hitters, and he mixed it with an excellent curve and a slider as well. He also had a decent forkball at times. Thanks to his great control, Hurst was able to work corners well and had a profuse knowledge of each hitter. He won 88 games for the Red Sox in a span of nine years, posting his best season in 1988 with an 18-6 record. In 1986, despite spending six midsummer weeks on the disabled list with a pulled groin, Hurst posted a 2.99 ERA with 13 victories and helped lead the Red Sox to the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. He won Game 1 1-0 and Game 5 4-2 to give Boston a 3-2 lead in the Series. The score in Game 6 stood at 3-3 after nine innings. The Red Sox scored in the top of the tenth on a home run by Dave Henderson, then added an insurance run. With nobody on and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, the Shea Stadium scoreboard was all set to display “Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions”, with Hurst being selected as the World Series Most Valuable Player. Suddenly, the Mets rallied to win the game with three runs, forcing decisive Game 7. With three days rest, Hurst had given up only three singles through six innings and left the game tied 3-3. The rest is history, with the Mets winning the World Championship. Believers of “The Curse of the Bambino” have pointed out the letters in the name BRUCE HURST can be re-arranged as B RUTH CURSE. Jersey #47

 

Jerry Remy was traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 1977 season and continued as the Red Sox starter at second in 1978, being selected to play in the All-Star Game, in which he did not appear. He continued as their starting second basemen for the next six seasons, although he was often hampered by injuries. Bill James, in his Historical Abstract rated him as the 100th greatest second baseman of all time as of 2002. Since 1988, Remy has found success in broadcasting, working for the New England Sports Network (NESN), as the color commentator for all NESN Red Sox broadcasts. Since 2001, Remy has been teamed with play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo. NESN celebrated Jerry Remy Day on June 24, 2008, in honor of Remy’s 20 years of service for the network. He is currently serving as the first president of Red Sox Nation. Jerry Remy was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2006. Jersey #2

 

Rice Lynn EvansFred Lynn, after graduation from USC, started his career for the Red Sox with a phenomenal 1975 season in which he won the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards, the first player ever to win both in the same season. (The feat has since been duplicated by Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.) Lynn and fellow rookie outfielder Jim Rice were dubbed as the “Gold Dust Twins” because of their combined baseball talents. In 1975, Lynn led the American League in doubles, runs scored and slugging percentage, finished second in the batting race with a .331 average, and won a Gold Glove Award for his defensive play. On June 18 he bombed the Tigers with 3 HR, 10 RBI, and 16 total bases in one game. Unfortunately, Lynn found it difficult to duplicate the extraordinary success of his first season, and was hampered by injuries. These sometimes were caused by fearless play, such as a broken rib caused by crashing into an outfield wall, or knee injuries from breaking up double plays, but most were simply of the nagging variety, such as strains and sprains. Although he didn’t maintain the same level of his rookie season, he still excelled, winning three more Gold Gloves in 1978-80 and finishing 4th in the 1979 MVP voting, while being elected to the All-Star team every year with the Red Sox. Jersey #19.

 

Hooper Speaker LewisHarry Hooper, Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis, nicknamed “The Million Dollar Outfield“. In 1910 the Red Sox signed Duffy Lewis, who became the left fielder, and, with Speaker and Harry Hooper would form Boston’s “Million-Dollar Outfield”, one of the finest outfield trios in baseball history, playing together until Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1916. Harry Hooper, who batted left-handed and threw right-handed, broke into the majors with the Red Sox in 1909, and still holds many of the team’s records. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox in the 1921 season and finished his career in 1925. On May 30, 1913 Hooper became the first player to hit a home run to lead off both games of a doubleheader, a mark only matched by Rickey Henderson 80 years later. Beside this, Hooper is the only person to be a part of four Red Sox World Series championships: in 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918. On October 13, 1915, he became the first player to hit two home runs in a single World Series game. Hooper was also the captain of the Red Sox in 1919. Tris Speaker, considered one of the best offensive and defensive center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball, compiled a career batting average of .345 (fourth all-time), and still holds the record of 792 career doubles. Defensively, his career records for assists, double plays, and unassisted double plays by an outfielder still stand as well. His fielding glove was known as the place “where triples go to die.” Speaker helped lead the Boston Red Sox to two World Series championships. As a manager (for Cleveland) his innovations, most notably the platoon system and the infield rotation play, revolutionized the game. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in its second year of voting, 1937. Duffy Lewis won three World Series championships with the Red Sox (1912, 1915, 1916) and is considered perhaps one of the best ever in fielding skill. At bat, Lewis was a renowned line-drive hitter who consistently finished in the top ten in most offensive categories despite a short career which was interrupted by World War I.

 

Mo Vaughn became the center of the Red Sox’s line-up in 1993, hitting 29 home runs and contributing 101 RBIs. In 1995, he established a reputation as one of the most feared hitters in the American League when he hit 39 home runs with 126 RBIs and a .300 average. He also garnered 11 stolen bases. His efforts, which led the Red Sox to the playoffs (only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series), were rewarded with the American League MVP award. Vaughn had his career year with the Red Sox in 1996, batting an average of .326, playing in 161 games, with 44 home runs, and 143 RBIs. On May 30, 1997 playing a game against the Yankees, Vaughn went 4-for-4 with three solo homers in the Red Sox’s 10-4 win over the Yankees. Vaughn continued to improve over the next several seasons, batting .315 or higher from 1996 to 1998 and averaging 40 home runs and 118 RBIs. The Red Sox lost in the American League Division Series in 1998, once again to the Cleveland Indians, although Vaughn played well, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs in game one.  Vaughn formed a formidable middle of the lineup with shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. The two combined for 75 home runs in 1998, Vaughn’s final year with the club. He was noted for “crowding the plate”; his stance was such that his front elbow often appeared to be hovering in the strike zone, which intimidated pitchers into throwing wide and outside. Jersey # 42

 

Kevin Millar played for the Marlins between 1998 and 2002, and was later sold to the Japanese Central League Chunichi Dragons. In order for the transaction to be completed, he first had to clear the waivers requested by the Marlins, but the Red Sox broke an “unwritten rule” and blocked the deal with a waiver claim. In an unprecedented deal brokered by MLB, the Marlins later repaid the money that the Dragons had paid for Millar, and the Sox also paid a similar sum to the Marlins in return for Millar. He became a clubhouse favorite and a sort of cult hero for the Red Sox fans because of his iconic “Cowboy Up” rallying cry. His clubhouse presence and offensive production helped spark the Red Sox to the 2003 American League Championship Series and the 2004 World Series. Millar was active in team interviews and conversations throughout the playoffs. He was often outspoken and made friends with many teammates.  During the 2003 playoffs, Millar came up with the phrase “Cowboy Up,” and in 2004 referred to his team as “idiots” to keep his teammates loose during the stretch run to the World Series Championship. Probably one of his most memorable quotes came during the 2004 American League Championship Series when, while warming up before Game 4, with the Red Sox down 3 games to 0 against the arch-rival New York Yankees, he kept repeating “Don’t let us win tonight!” Further developing on that quote, he added “This is a big game. They’ve got to win because if we win we’ve got Petie coming back today and then Schilling will pitch Game 6 and then you can take that fraud stuff and put it to bed. Don’t let the Sox win this game.” These words became prophetic as the Sox rallied in 12 innings in game 4 to win 6-4 and went on to come from behind and win the ALCS 4 games to 3, capping off the biggest comeback in MLB playoff history and setting the stage to bring about death to the Curse of the Bambino.  Jersey # 15

 

Curt Schilling began his professional career in the Red Sox farm system as a second-round pick in what would be the final January draft in MLB. He began his professional career with the Elmira Pioneers, a then Red Sox affiliate. After two and a half years in the minor leagues, he and Brady Anderson were traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1988 for Mike Boddicker. In November 2003, the Diamondbacks traded Schilling to the Boston Red Sox.  The trade to Boston reunited Schilling with Terry Francona, his manager during his final four years with the Philadelphia Phillies. This move meant Schilling and Francona have been part of the rivalries of both New York City baseball teams, though neither were on the New York side (New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox and New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies).

On September 16, 2004, Schilling won his 20th game of the 2004 for the Red Sox, becoming the fifth Boston pitcher to win 20 or more games in his first season with the team, and the first since Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in 1978. Schilling ended his regular season with a 21–6 record.  On October 19, 2004, Schilling won Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. Notably, he won this game playing on an injured ankle—the same injuries that contributed to his disastrous outing in Game 1 of the ALCS. These injuries were so acute that by the end of his performance that day his white sock was soaked with blood, which is now referred to as “the bloody sock”. The win forced a Game 7, making the Red Sox the first team in MLB history to come back from a three-games-to-none deficit. The Red Sox would go on to win Game 7 and the ALCS and make their first World Series appearance since 1986. Schilling pitched (and won) Game 2 of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals. In both series, he had to have the tendon in his right ankle stabilized repeatedly, in what has become known as the Schilling Tendon Procedure, after the tendon sheath was torn during his Game 1 ALDS appearance against the Los Angeles Angels. As in Game 6 of the ALCS, Schilling’s sock was soaked with blood from the sutures used in this medical procedure, but he still managed to pitch seven strong innings, giving up one run on four hits and striking out four. This second bloody sock was placed in the Baseball Hall of Fame after Boston’s victory over St. Louis in the World Series. A four-game sweep of the World Series erased the Curse of the Bambino.  Schilling was once again runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2004, this time to Minnesota Twins hurler Johan Santana, who was a unanimous selection, receiving all 28 first-place votes. Schilling received 27 of the 28 second-place votes. Later, the entire Red Sox team was named Sports Illustrated’s 2004 Sportsmen of the Year, making Schilling only the second person to have won or shared that award twice.

In 2006 he began the season 4–0 with a 1.61 ERA. He finished the year with a 15–7 record and 198 strikeouts, with a respectable 3.97 ERA. On May 27, he earned his 200th career win, the 104th major league pitcher to accomplish the feat.On August 30, Schilling collected his 3,000th strikeout. Schilling has the highest ratio of strikeouts to walks of any pitcher with at least 3,000 strikeouts, and is one of four pitchers to reach the 3,000-K milestone before reaching 1,000 career walks. The other three who accomplished this feat are Fergie Jenkins, Greg Maddux, and former Boston Red Sox ace and teammate Pedro Martínez.  On June 7, 2007, Schilling came within one out of his first career no-hitter. Schilling gave up a two-out single to Oakland’s Shannon Stewart, who lined a 95-mph fastball to right field for the A’s only hit. Schilling continued his career postseason success in 2007, throwing seven shutout innings in a 9–1 victory over the Angels in the ALDS, wrapping up a three-game sweep for Boston.  However, he did not fare as well pitching in Game 2 of the ALCS against Cleveland, surrendering nine hits—two of them home runs—and five earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings. He did start again in the sixth game of the series, pitching seven complete innings during which he recorded five strikeouts, surrendering no walks with only two earned runs to gain the victory and force a Game 7. He earned his third win of the 2007 playoffs in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series leaving after 5 1/3 innings, striking out four while allowing only four hits. With this win, he became only the second pitcher over the age of 40 to start and win a World Series game (Kenny Rogers became the first just one year prior). As Schilling departed in the 6th inning, fans at Fenway Park gave Schilling a standing ovation in what would eventually be his final game.  Schilling retired with a career postseason record of 11–2. His .846 postseason winning percentage is a major-league record among pitchers with at least 10 decisions. Jersey # 38

Retired Numbers

This was a post from some time ago.. but I still feel it’s rather an important perspective from a member of ‘The Nation’.

 

Let’s take a break from the heavy lifting today and cover something we all care about…. Red Sox retired numbers.

Now as we all know (unless you’re a caveman living under a rock.. no wait, they have car insurance so no excuses) the Sox finally retired Jim Ed’s #14.  The number had not been worn since he took it off in 1989 (except by himself during the coaching days) but couldn’t be raised to ‘Retired Row’ because hRetired row.jpge hadn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Yet Johnny Pesky had his number retired last year and did not meet such criteria.

Stop!

I’m not even going to go down that long and winding slippery slope of saying “Pesky doesn’t deserve it” or “Why is his there?” or anything like it.  Pesky’s #6 belongs there all day long, which brings me to my point…. so do a few others!

Pesky’s number was worn by a few guys to say the least before being retired but not in this century that I can recall.  Buckner (1st term of service), Tony Pena and Damon Berryhill to name a few wore it.  Pesky didn’t play 10 seasons with the Sox, retire a Red Sox or be elected to the Hall and still deserved the honor for his 60+ years of service to the hometown team.  Maybe we should consider a way to ‘honor’ a number without retiring it…?

Try this.  Dom DiMaggio.jpgLet’s use Dom DiMaggio and Dwight Evans for example (everyone will have a candidate, I’m sure… Boggs, Clemens, Tiant, Tony C., and dozens more).  Dom wore the number 7 which has most recently been worn by Christopher “Home Run Trot” Nixon and J.D. Drew.  If we put his number up, do we take it from Drew in some Ray Bourque to Espo notion?  No… high numbers in baseball look weak because of the prospect or minor league call up stigma.  Even if you are J.T. Snow wearing dad’s Patriots’ number.

The numbers on ‘Retired Row’ are fashioned after the Sox home jersey colors, so let’s take the ‘honored’ numbers (as compared to retired) and put them in the road colors.  Same size, just make the rear circle gray and the number a dark navy.  Perhaps even fashion a jersey styled name plate atop the number (made smaller to look proper) to remind everone of just who it is honoring or if honoring two great players who wore the number (Manny and Evans for sh!ts and giggles).  Place the numbers on ‘Retired Row’, past Jackie’s 42 or find another spot to display them, perhaps the top of the right field bleachers wall, and the Bleacher Creature’s can place the strikeout K’s below them during a game.

This way we see the ‘honored’ #7 for Dom, who didn’t meet the retired number criteria as set by the Red Sox organization but you can still give him his due in Sox history Dewey.jpgas a member of the ’46 team, a fantastic multi-time All-Star and all around teammate.  Same for Dwight Evans.  24 is forever going to be linked to Manny Being Manny, but for nearly twenty years and two World Series (including his part in one of the greatest Series’ ever) it was Dewey’s.  Put it up in road colors to ‘honor’ the player and his place in Sox history.  Same for Jimmy Foxx, Wade Boggs and Luis Tiant… two HOF’s who had excellent runs with the Sox and one great personality who epitomized the team and the city if even for just a few short years.  Just think, Wakefield probably won’t make it to the Hall, but we can still see his number resting proudly for generations to come, in his specific memory.

Now I know a lot of people like the Red Sox organizational criteria for having a number retired, it seperates us from the Yankees who seem to have maybe three or four numbers under 20 available (with #2 definately out of service and #6 most likely for Torre) and a long storied history of monument park.  Well, it’s like the Celtics people, when you are the penultimate dynasty in your sport who wins decade after decade, you have great players and recognize them.  I’m not saying I agree with it, but the loyalty factor is undeniable.  This way, we won’t take the numbers out of circulation and still give the ‘honored’ player his due.  If it’s done with class, as is most everything the Sox do, it can be something very special.  Special to the memories of the Fans.  Special to memories of the Player.  Special to the ongoing tradition of Red Sox Baseball.

Childhood Echo…

I have been a Member of the Nation before we were actually known as “The Nation”.  Being a Red Sox fan growing up in the 1980’s meant hearing words like futile, inept, overspending and cursed.  One of my earliest memories is sitting in my aunt’s apartment while we watched Yaz’s retirement lap around Fenway.  It was also sitting in my aunt’s living room where I watched Bill “You are so forgiven” Buckner make that historical error.  To my aunt, who very much raised me, and now to me The ‘Ole Towne Team are very close to the heart.  She was raised a Boston Braves fan by her father during the Great Depression and carried those memories and passed those stories her whole life… memories of her father who passed on rather young, riding the ‘T’ on the elevated track (which no longer exists here in Boston) to Huntington Ave and Braves Field..  and it took me a while to appreciate them.  She often took me to games and thought Dwight ‘Dewey’ Evans and Ellis Burks (Burks winning the 2004 title was just sweet irony) were it and at one point in the dynasty days of the A’s we watched Dave Stewart face The Rocket on a brilliant Sunday afternoon.. where she verbally b!tch slapped a fellow fan who called for Evans to retire just before he smacked one into the longtime left field net which preceded the Monstah’ Seats atop The Wall.

And this season, something has been bringing me back to those great memories fairly often.

ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball.  If you are unaware, Sean McDonough is a local boy and son of Will McDonough (and if you don’t know who he is, you never read anything about NFL football in the 20th Century) who during parts of the 1980’s and 90’s broadcast play by play for WSBK TV 38 in Boston (as well as calling a few World Series for CBS… “Touch ’em all Joe”).  Sure we all know Donnie O’ and the RemDawg as the voices of The Nation these days, but before NESN became the exclusive provider of local Boston ‘Sox coverage (well, the Sox own ’em) there were a number of games televised over the air, free of charge on days not named Saturday or Sunday and subject to black out.  But when I was a kid in the projects of Southie with no cable television, Sean McDonough was the man.  Calling games with Bob Montgomery and later Jerry Remy, it was my window to the Red Sox World.

Any Sox fan who can remember the fateful day in 1990 if I recall correctly when the Sox were down to the wire… Clemens already having been sent to Toronto in case of a one game playoff… watching the crushingly tight game unfold at Fenway and that slap into right field, coming so close to the wall of doom which has destroyed many a fielder’s chances and hearing “BRUNANSKY…!!!” and not being able to tell from the angle of the camera if Bruno slid awkwardly into the wall or made the catch that brought all of New England to the edge of its seat….

In our days of multimedia saturation it is indeed nice to recall the clichéd simpler times of childhood when that simple game coverage was so important.  So thanks go to ESPN for carrying several Sox games on their Monday Broadcasts… and a Thank You to Sean McDonough.

Retired Numbers

Let’s take a break from the heavy lifting today and cover something we all care about…. Red Sox retired numbers.

Now as we all know (unless you’re a caveman living under a rock.. no wait, they have car insurance so no excuses) the Sox finally retired Jim Ed’s #14.  The number had not been worn since he took it off in 1989 (except by himself during the coaching days) but couldn’t be raised to ‘Retired Row’ because hRetired row.jpge hadn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Yet Johnny Pesky had his number retired last year and did not meet such criteria. 

Stop!

I’m not even going to go down that long and winding slippery slope of saying “Pesky doesn’t deserve it” or “Why is his there?” or anything like it.  Pesky’s #6 belongs there all day long, which brings me to my point…. so do a few others!

Pesky’s number was worn by a few guys to say the least before being retired but not in this century that I can recall.  Buckner (1st term of service), Tony Pena and Damon Berryhill to name a few wore it.  Pesky didn’t play 10 seasons with the Sox, retire a Red Sox or be elected to the Hall and still deserved the honor for his 60+ years of service to the hometown team.  Maybe we should consider a way to ‘honor’ a number without retiring it…?

Try this.  Dom DiMaggio.jpgLet’s use Dom DiMaggio and Dwight Evans for example (everyone will have a candidate, I’m sure… Boggs, Clemens, Tiant, Tony C., and dozens more).  Dom wore the number 7 which has most recently been worn by Christopher “Home Run Trot” Nixon and J.D. Drew.  If we put his number up, do we take it from Drew in some Ray Bourque to Espo notion?  No… high numbers in baseball look weak because of the prospect or minor league call up stigma.  Even if you are J.T. Snow wearing dad’s Patriots’ number.  

The numbers on ‘Retired Row’ are fashioned after the Sox home jersey colors, so let’s take the ‘honored’ numbers (as compared to retired) and put them in the road colors.  Same size, just make the rear circle gray and the number a dark navy.  Perhaps even fashion a jersey styled name plate atop the number (made smaller to look proper) to remind everone of just who it is honoring or if honoring two great players who wore the number (Manny and Evans for sh!ts and giggles).  Place the numbers on ‘Retired Row’, past Jackie’s 42 or find another spot to display them, perhaps the top of the right field bleachers wall, and the Bleacher Creature’s can place the strikeout K’s below them during a game.

This way we see the ‘honored’ #7 for Dom, who didn’t meet the retired number criteria as set by the Red Sox organization but you can still give him his due in Sox history Dewey.jpgas a member of the ’46 team, a fantastic multi-time All-Star and all around teammate.  Same for Dwight Evans.  24 is forever going to be linked to Manny Being Manny, but for nearly twenty years and two World Series (including his part in one of the greatest Series’ ever) it was Dewey’s.  Put it up in road colors to ‘honor’ the player and his place in Sox history.  Same for Jimmy Foxx, Wade Boggs and Luis Tiant… two HOF’s who had excellent runs with the Sox and one great personality who epitomized the team and the city if even for just a few short years.  Just think, Wakefield probably won’t make it to the Hall, but we can still see his number resting proudly for generations to come, in his specific memory. 

Now I know a lot of people like the Red Sox organizational criteria for having a number retired, it seperates us from the Yankees who seem to have maybe three or four numbers under 20 available (with #2 definately out of service and #6 most likely for Torre) and a long storied history of monument park.  Well, it’s like the Celtics people, when you are the penultimate dynasty in your sport who wins decade after decade, you have great players and recognize them.  I’m not saying I agree with it, but the loyalty factor is undeniable.  This way, we won’t take the numbers out of circulation and still give the ‘honored’ player his due.  If it’s done with class, as is most everything the Sox do, it can be something very special.  Special to the memories of the Fans.  Special to memories of the Player.  Special to the ongoing tradition of Red Sox Baseball.