Tagged: Jim Rice

David Price and the best uniform numbers ever

From ESPN Boston: David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer

David Price was officially introduced as a member of the Boston Red Sox on Friday. Price has worn No. 14 throughout his career — with Tampa Bay, with Detroit and with Toronto — but that number is retired in Boston in honor of Hall of Famer so Jim Rice so he chose No. 24.

 

That’s a pretty storied number in Red Sox history. Dwight Evans — a better player than Rice but not in the Hall of Fame — wore it from 1973 to 1990 and he’s one of the most popular players in Red Sox history. But the Red Sox only retire the numbers of Hall of Famers, so five players have worn it since Evans. One of those was Manny Ramirez, who wore it from 2001 to 2008.

That got me to thinking: What’s the greatest jersey number for one team? By that, I mean worn by more than one great player. Here are some nominees:

  • Boston Red Sox No. 24: Dwight Evans, Manny Ramirez, David Price. Total WAR: 99.4 and counting. (That WAR is only for the players listed and only while with the Red Sox; many others have worn the number, but I’m looking at major stars only. Good luck if you want to invest the time for all players.)
  • New York Yankees No. 8: Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Two Hall of Fame catchers, the number is now retired. Total WAR: 112.3.
  • New York Yankees No. 9: Roger Maris, Graig Nettles, Hank Bauer, Charlie Keller and Joe DiMaggio. The number is retired in Maris’ honor, although Nettles, Keller and Bauer each accumulated more WAR while with the Yankees. DiMaggio wore No. 9 as a rookie before shifting to No. 5. Total WAR: 145.6 (using just the one season for DiMaggio). Might be hard to beat that total.
  • Chicago Cubs No. 31: Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. Two Hall of Fame right-handers, the number is now retired in honor of both. Total WAR: 87.1.
  • Seattle Mariners No. 51: Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki. Who gets ultimate retirement honors? I’m guessing the Mariners will retire it in honor of both once Ichiro makes the Hall of Fame. Total WAR: 96.1.
  • Detroit Tigers No. 3: Alan Trammell, Dick McAuliffe, Ian Kinsler, Mickey Cochrane (1934-1937), Charlie Gehringer (1931). This is interesting since two Hall of Famers wore it for a short period plus Trammell, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and McAuliffe, a three-time All-Star. Total WAR: 132.8.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates No. 21: Arky Vaughan and Roberto Clemente. Total WAR: 147.8. Vaughan is a Hall of Famer, one of the most underrated players of the 1930s. He wore No. 21 with the Pirates from 1932-1939 and then changed to No. 3 and then No. 5 for some reason. I included only his 1932-1939 WAR but that was enough to push this duo above the Yankees’ No. 9 guys.
  • San Francisco Giants No. 25: Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds. Total WAR: 150.3. Barry accounts for 112.3 of that. Not included: Dan Gladden. But if you throw in 19.3 WAR from Whitey Lockman you’re up to 169.6.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers No. 6: Carl Furillo, Ron Fairly and Steve Garvey. No Hall of Famers, but three good players. Garvey’s number is retired, oddly enough, by the Padres but not the Dodgers. Total WAR: 84.5.
  • New York Yankees No. 15: Red Ruffing, Tommy Henrich (1946-1950), Tom Tresh, Thurman Munson. The number is retired for Munson, although Ruffing is in the Hall of Fame. Total WAR: 125.5.
  • Los Angeles Angels No. 27: Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Trout. Vlad played with the Angels for only six seasons, but he did win an MVP award wearing No. 27. Hmm, how many teams have had two different players win an MVP award wearing the same number? Total WAR: 60.7 and counting.

By this measure, Bonds and Bonds is enough to make the Giants’ No. 25 the best number ever. Did I miss any other candidates? You can go to Baseball-Reference.com to check out the number history for each franchise.

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Okay, I’ll buy some of this, makes for great social media-war type stuff, but I think under these conditions, it’s just too simple and doesn’t really get into the actual subject matter of “Best Number”.  Sure, it’s about the number and not the actual players who wore them outside of their WAR, I can see that, but being a bit more traditionalist… eh. How much of the actual Barry Bonds numbers can you, PED use aside, factor into the #25
argument?  As the Riddler once said, “Too many questions…”

24 is actually one of my fave Red Sox numbers, mainly for Dewey and
having grown up watching him until his final year in Baltimore (yes, Dwight Evans played a year for the Orioles).  I was heartbroken when Manny wore it, simply because it was Dewey’s and it should have been Dewey’s… ’nuff said.  Yes other players had worn it between them and since, but again, I don’t really look at Kevin Mitchell’s short stint patrolling the famous Fenway RF in #24 as anything dramatic, nor anyone else’s stints.

But added up WAR aside… how do you get past 9?  Sure that’s based on the player who wore it but still… Teddy Ballgame as a singular baseball individual, never mind war hero (as well as WAR hero in stats terms) and American Icon (yes, he was a foul-mouthed bastard but his legacy goes well beyond that, Thank You) who still overshadows the combined three individuals mentioned in the above article.  And yes, Dwight Evans is HOF worthy, just was never the ‘Superstar’ of the team as he played with Yaz, Fisk, Rice, Boggs (all HOF) and the likes of Roger Clemens, Fred Lynn, Tony Pena and other lightning rods for the press.  He never had a long collection of league-leading years but trended upwards during the latter half of that career.  That however, is an argument that has been made and shall be made again…

Oh, NOTE: Yes, the Red Sox have made it policy that retired numbers are an honor for players who played 10 years in the uniform, retired with the team and made the HOF… except Johnny Pesky, whose 4.2 billion years of service to the organization merited his #6 be retired.

I’ve made a case for the Red Sox to implement an ‘Honored’ number selection, where specific player’s numbers are posted with their names in road jersey style upon the center field interior of the bleachers wall, keeping that number in uniform rotation but still paying homage to the player.  Example: 21 Clemens in Navy Blue numbers/letters (or Red depending on the away jersey style you prefer… I liked the original non-name roadies and the 2009 to 2013 version), 26 Boggs or 24 Evans, etc.,  This keeps the number in rotation (though 21 may never be worn either way… as it should be, all the PED rhetoric aside, Rocket’s Sox years were his prime HOF years) but still gives the deserved recognition to those who wore it before.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have had such a system in place for years.

Just my humble opinion.

p.s. If the continuing embargo versus career DH’s in the HOF, where will this leave Big Papi in the retired number conversation??

 

Swing and a Myth…

Finding the Real Ted Williams

The Kid in color

By: Scott Conroy

For a sports-obsessed kid like myself, growing up in what is arguably the nation’s most sports-obsessed city, Ted Williams’ very name conjured a mythic quality.

In the pantheon of historical significance, he placed somewhere between Joan of Arc and George Washington — and was just as unknowable.

I never saw more than a few seconds of archived footage of the legendary Red Sox left fielder in action, but I knew a few facts about the man, which were as ingrained in my mind as my own date of birth.

Williams was the last player to achieve a .400 batting average, which he pulled off during the 1941 season — a singular accomplishment in a sport that venerates individual statistics.

He hit a home run in the last at-bat of his 19-year career, every inning of which he played in a Red Sox uniform.

And, most importantly, Ted Williams was “the greatest hitter who ever lived.”

The Kid and The Babe

This laudatory and unnuanced appraisal was regarded — in my world, at least — as a matter of undisputed fact. Any peer who might have argued otherwise during an elementary school recess or a backyard Whiffle ball game would face ridicule as biting as if he had claimed that 1 + 1 = 3.

The Kid is the culmination of a decade-long effort by longtime Boston Globe reporter and editor Ben Bradlee Jr. to provide a comprehensive look at the man whose posters adorned his bedroom walls as a Boston-area child in the 1950s.

The result, an engrossing and exhaustively researched biography, applies plenty of ink across its nearly 800 pages in documenting Williams’ Hall of Fame playing career — the facts of which back up most of the legends about him.

While Bradlee eagerly touts Williams’ peerless attributes as the player who could hit for both power and average better than anyone in baseball history, he also engages in some welcomed myth-busting.

The Kid eyes itAmong the Ted Williams “facts” that youth baseball coaches like to trumpet in batting cages up and down New England: his vision was so phenomenal that he could actually see the seams of the ball as it hurtled toward him at upwards of 95 miles per hour.

As it turns out, Naval doctors determined that Williams’ vision was 20/15 — an excellent mark that put him in the top 95 percent of young men his age, though not quite in the realm of superhero acuity.

Though Bradlee’s recounting of Williams’ career is candy for any baseball fan, The Kid shines brightest in detailing the paradoxical character, cinematic life and sad circumstances surrounding the death of the Splendid Splinter.

That Williams spent much of his life either hiding or downplaying his half-Mexican heritage is perhaps unsurprising given the biases that permeated his southern California upbringing and the segregated sport in which he became a star.

But the extent to which his ethnic background has remained obscured is striking. If one were to gather a roomful of passionate baseball fans today, I’d confidently wager that more than half would have no idea that Teddy Ballgame was among the first great Hispanic ballplayers in the big leagues.

Bradlee is at his most compelling when detailing the circumstances surrounding Ted InductedWilliams being drafted into the Navy in World War II, just months after his .406 season — and a time when he was entering what should have been the prime years of his career.

After originally being granted a Class 3-A deferment, on account of being the sole economic provider to his mother, Williams quietly asked his attorney to challenge the U.S. government’s decision to change his draft status to Class 1-A (available for unrestricted military service) — an appeal that the Selective Service rejected.

Williams’ initial attempts to avoid leaving the batter’s box for the cockpit were catnip for Boston’s aggressive newspaper reporters in the post-Pearl Harbor patriotic melee.  In the months before he reported for duty, he received a bevy of letters in support of him and more than a few that questioned his courage.

One unidentified heckler mailed the All-Star left fielder two sheets of blank yellow paper — a message intended to remind Williams of the color of cowardice.

“I’ve noticed that the mud-slingers border on the illiterate side,” the famously prickly Williams, who often viewed himself as a victim of  overly aggressive media, said at the time. “The encouraging letters come from well-bred persons.”

Once he reported for duty, Williams took the hard road — becoming a commissioned second lieutenant in the Marines Corps. He did not see combat over the Pacific — a disappointment for a man who, once he was on active duty, envisioned “downing a Zero” (a Japanese fighter plane) as something of an all-time life achievement.

Instead, Williams spent the last months of the war as the U.S. military’s most famous flight instructor in Pensacola, Fla., where he was somewhat of a ringer while playing for the base’s recreational baseball team.

After returning to baseball and eventually entering the latter stage of his playing career, he did not mask his fury over what he considered unfair treatment: He was recalled to fly combat missions over North Korea in 1952.

Ted in Korea

During his very first engagement of the Korean War, Williams’ fighter jet was hit by small arms fire. He considered ejecting, but fearing that a crippling injury would make his return to the diamond impossible, he made a daring emergency landing.

In all, Williams lost five of his prime playing years to military service — a fact that makes his final stat sheet all the more remarkable and that has long been a centerpiece in any discussion of his greatness.

After all, who could imagine a pro athlete in the modern era giving up all of the money and privileges of sports fame to serve his country?

Well, Pat Tillman may not have been a star approaching Williams’ caliber when he left the NFL to join the Army Rangers after the 9/11 attacks, but the $3.6 million contract the Arizona Cardinal safety turned down in favor of fighting in Afghanistan, where he gave his life, dwarfed Williams’ 1941 salary of $30,000.

That’s not to say that Williams’ wartime service was any less honorable, but Bradlee details the extent to which it was initially reluctant.

A hallmark of Williams’ post-playing career was his generous charity work on behalf of the Jimmy Fund, Boston’s leading foundation for cancer research support — time and money  that he insisted not be accompanied by media attention.

Bradlee’s painstaking efforts to recount the macabre details of the family struggle that led to Williams’ body being cryonically preserved after his death in 2002 are difficult to digest but nonetheless serve as an essential postscript to this “immortal life.”

Bill Weld and Ted open the tunnelIn 1993, Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld was tasked with naming the long-awaited tunnel that would connect South Boston to Logan Airport — a major component of the epically over-budget Big Dig project that would finally modernize The Hub’s traffic-plagued highway system.

After determining that there were already enough public infrastructure projects named after politicians, Weld decided to honor one of Boston’s sports heroes.

There were several more-decorated local candidates from which to choose.  No athlete in the history of sports, after all, is more synonymous with the words “winner” and “dynasty” than Bill Russell, who led the Celtics to an astounding 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. And three-time consecutive NHL MVP Bobby Orr revolutionized the defenseman position during his 10 seasons with the Bruins and  scored one of the most memorable goals in hockey history in clinching the 1970 Stanley Cup.

Ted Williams, on the other hand, slumped his way through his Red Sox’s only World Series appearance, in 1946, and never won the fall classic.

But then again, neither did Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, or any of the other Red SoxTed and Yaz greats who graced Fenway Park during the team’s infamous 86-year World Series draught.

Despite never having brought home the big one, no sports hero’s legend shines brighter in Beantown than the man who liked to be called The Kid. And so the cane-wielding 77-year-old was granted the honor of opening The Ted Williams Tunnel in 1995.

Even if that landmark must one day share valuable downtown real estate with Larry Bird Drive, The David Ortiz Parkway, or Tom Brady Bridge, Ted Williams’ mystique will remain unparalleled in Boston lore — and The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams is now the definitive biography.

The Kid book cover

Boston native Scott Conroy is the national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. Follow on Twitter @RealClearScott.

Let’s Revisit: #24, RF, Dwight ‘Dewey’ Evans (Re-Post from 1/5/12)

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.

Fact or Fiction… ?

Well, Congrats to Barry Larkin, the singular inductee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for 2012.

Now comes the hard part.  The 2013 Ballot will be flooded in worthy, clouded and questionable candidates. Of the first year candidates hitting the ballot for 2012, only Bernie Williams, @ 9.6%, earned enough votes (above 5%) to remain on the ballot for next year.  Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell made fairly significant increases in their percentage numbers, however a few of those numbers will look to drop as ‘hold-overs’ tend to dip when big name newbies hit the ballot.  Those names will include;

  •    Barry Bonds: OF Pittsburgh, San Fransisco
  •    Roger Clemens: RHSP Boston (A), Toronto, New York (A), Houston
  •    Mike Piazza: C/DH Los Angeles (N), Florida, New York (N), San Diego, Oakland
  •    Curt Schilling: RHSP Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia (N), Arizona, Boston (A)
  •    Kenny Lofton: CF/OF Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago (A), San Fransisco, Chicago (N), Pittsburgh,  New York (A), Philadelphia (N), Los Angeles (N), Texas
  •     David Wells: LHSP Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York (A), Chicago (A), San Diego,  Boston (A), Los Angeles (N)
  •     Sammy Sosa: OF/DH Texas, Chicago (A), Chicago (N), Baltimore
  •     Craig Biggio: C/2B/OF Houston

Now, looking at the list, one doesn’t see a first ballot inductee (as opposed to the 2013 ballot and Greg Maddux’ 1st year of eligibility).  Both Bonds and Clemens carry the statistics of greatness but are deeply embroiled in the PED issue due to various and on-going reasons.  Piazza, arguably one of the greatest offensive catchers in the game, played in the Steroid Era and, like Bagwell, will have to endure.  Craig Biggio and Kenny Lofton were big-name stars but are on the bubble at best.  Sammy Sosa, like McGwire and Palmeiro, will probably earn enough votes to stay on the ballot as voters continue to judge the Steroid Era for its’ fact and fiction.  David Wells, well who knows.  He’ll probably survive to the next ballot but with Schilling taking some votes away and Jack Morris still on it, who can say for sure?

So let’s take a look at what appears to be the next great debate;  Curt Schilling versus Jack Morris.

Some say that Curt cannot get into the Hall if Jack Morris is excluded and vice-versa.  Others believe that a few of their average to just above average regular seasons give way to their post-season efforts, while experts contend that the HOF isn’t based wholly on post-season theatrics.  As Brian Kenney of Clubhouse Confidential put it, “Many people mistake Jack Morris for being the post-season pitcher Curt Schilling actually was.”  So, let’s see where this takes us.

  •                                  Luis Tiant (19)         Jack Morris (18)         Curt Schilling (20)         David Wells (21)
  • Wins/Losses(%):  229/172 (.571)            254/186 (.577)              216/146 (.597)              239/157 (.604)
  • ERA:                                3.30                               3.90                                 3.46                                4.13
  • ERA+:                              115                                 105                                   128                                 108
  • Strikeouts:                     2416                               2478                                3116                               2201
  • K/BB:                              2.19                                1.78                                 4.38                                 3.06
  • WAR:                               60.1                               39.3                                 69.7                                 50.7

Well, those are the basics.  Wells is eliminated on ERA alone.  At 3.90, Morris has the highest ERA of any legitimate Hall of Fame candidate and if elected, would have the highest ERA for a starter.  Wells played for some great teams and Championship teams to accumulate that winning percentage, including some great personal accolades and 3 All-Star appearances, but he’s out.

Now let’s take a look at the post-season stats in the three-horse race.

  •                                     Luis Tiant (3 Series)         Jack Morris (7 Series)         Curt Schilling (12 Series)
  • Wins/Losses (%):            3/0 (1.000)                             7/4 (.636)                                 11/2 (.846)
  • ERA:                                        2.86                                          3.80                                            2.23
  • Innings Pitched                     34.2                                           92.1                                            133.1
  • Strikeouts:                                20                                              64                                              120
  • K/BB:                                       1.82                                           2.00                                           4.80

Tiant broke through in 1968, after he altered his delivery so that he turned away from the home plate during his motion, in effect creating a hesitation pitch. According to Tiant, the new motion was a response to a drop in his velocity due to an arm injury. Twisting and turning his body into unthinkable positions, Tiant would spend more time looking at second base than he did the plate as he prepared to throw. In that season, he led the league in ERA (1.60), shutouts (9, including 4 consecutive!), hits per nine innings (a still-standing franchise record 5.30, which broke Herb Score’s 5.85 in 1956 and would be a Major-League record low until Nolan Ryan gave up 5.26 hits/9 innings in 1972), strikeouts per nine innings (9.22, more than a batter an inning), while finishing with a 21–9 mark. Beside this, opposing hitters batted just .168 off Tiant, a major league record, and on July 3 he struck out 19 Minnesota Twins in a ten-inning game, setting an American League record for games of that length. His 1.60 ERA was the lowest in the American League since Walter Johnson’s 1.49 mark during the dead-ball era in 1919, and second lowest in 1968 only to Bob Gibson’s 1.12—the lowest ever during the Live Ball Era.

Known as El Tiante at Fenway Park, in 1972 Tiant regained his old form with a 15–6 record and led the league with a 1.91 ERA on his way to winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. He would win 20 games in 1973 and 22 in 1974. Though hampered by back problems in 1975, he won 18 games for the American League Champion Red Sox and then excelled for Boston in the postseason. In the playoffs he defeated the three-time defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in a 7–1 three-hitter complete game, then opened the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His father and mother, having been allowed to visit from Cuba under a special visa, were in Fenway Park that game to watch their son defeat The Big Red Machine in a 6–0 five-hit shutout. All six Red Sox runs were scored in the seventh inning; Tiant led off that inning (the designated hitter was not yet in use in World Series play) with a base hit off Don Gullett and eventually scored on Carl Yastrzemski’s single for the first of those six runs.  Tiant won Game 4 as well (throwing 163 pitches in his second complete game in the series) and had a no-decision in Game 6, which has been called the greatest game ever played, after Carlton Fisk’s dramatic game-winning walk-off home run in the 12th inning.

In his 19-season career, Tiant compiled a 229–172 record with 2416 strikeouts, a 3.30 ERA, 187 complete games, and 49 shutouts in 3,486.1 innings. Tiant is one of five pitchers to have pitched four or more consecutive shutouts in the 50-year expansion era, with Don Drysdale (six, 1968), Bob Gibson (five, 1968), Orel Hershiser (five, 1988) and Gaylord Perry (four, 1970) being the others.  He was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.

  •      4 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA, leading the league twice.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Shutouts, leading the league 3 times.
  •      8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.

3 All-Star Games.  4 time 20 game winner.  3 times appearing on the American League Cy Young balloting, twice finishing in the top five.  4 times appearing on the AL Most Valuable Player ballot, twice finishing in the top ten.

Jack Morris played in 18 big league seasons between 1977 and 1994, mainly for the Detroit Tigers, and won 254 games throughout his career.  Armed with a fastball, slider, devastating splitter and a fierce competitive spirit, Morris played on three World Championship teams (1984 Tigers, 1991 Twins, and 1992 Blue Jays). While he gave up the most hits, earned runs and home runs of any pitcher in the 1980s, he also started the most games, pitched the most innings and was the winningest pitcher of the decade.  On April 7, 1984 Morris no-hit the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.  In 1986, Morris racked up 21 wins, but was overshadowed by eventual Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox.  Despite a sub par season in 1989 when he won only 6 games, he still finished as the winningest major league pitcher of the 1980s, with 162 wins during the decade.

In 1991, Morris signed a one-year contract with his hometown Minnesota Twins. He enjoyed another great season, posting 18 wins as Minnesota faced the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Morris started for the Twins three times, with his final outing being Game 7. In a postseason performance for the ages, the 36-year-old hurler, known throughout his career as a clutch “big game” pitcher, lived up to his billing by throwing 10 innings of shutout baseball against the Braves as the Twins won the World title on a 10th inning single by Gene Larkin that scored Dan Gladden.  Morris was named the World Series MVP for his fantastic performance.  Following the 1991 season, Morris spurned the Minnesota Twins, his hometown team, and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He earned 21 wins for the second time in his career (and the first ever 20-win season for a Blue Jays pitcher), though he rode the wave of superior run support from his offense, given his 4.04 ERA that year. The Blue Jays reached the 1992 World Series against the Braves and despite a sub par World Series performance, he won a third championship ring as Toronto beat Atlanta in six games. He won a fourth in 1993, as the Blue Jays repeated as World Champions with a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Morris did not pitch in the postseason, however.

  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA.
  •      8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.
  •      8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Shutouts, leading the league in 1986.
  •      10 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Complete Games, leading the league in 1990.
  •      12 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins, leading the league twice.

5 All Star Games.  3 Time 20 game winner.  Appearing on the AL Cy Young ballot 7 times, 5 time finishing in the top five.  Morris appeared 5 times on the AL Most Valuable Player ballot, twice finishing in the top 15.  4 Time World Series Champion including the 1991 World Series MVP award.

During the Phillies’ pennant run in 1993, Schilling went 16–7 with a 4.02 ERA and 186 strikeouts.  Schilling led the Phillies to an upset against the two-time defending National League champion Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Although he received no decisions during his two appearances in the six-game series, Schilling’s 1.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts (including the first 5 Braves hitters of Game 1, an NLCS record) were enough to earn him the 1993 NLCS Most Valuable Player Award.  After losing Game 1 of the WS to the Toronto Blue Jays, he pitched brilliantly in his next start. With the Phillies facing elimination the day after losing a bizarre 15–14 contest at home in Veterans Stadium, Schilling pitched a five-hit shutout that the Phillies won, 2–0.  Schilling was named to the NL All-Star team in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and started the 1999 game.

With Arizona, he went 22–6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2001, leading the majors in wins and innings pitched. He also went 4–0 with a 1.12 ERA in the playoffs. In the 2001 World Series, the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in seven games. Schilling shared the 2001 World Series MVP Award with teammate Randy Johnson. He and Johnson also shared Sports Illustrated magazine’s 2001 “Sportsmen of the Year” award. During the World Series Schilling received two other honors, as he was presented that year’s Roberto Clemente and Branch Rickey Awards, the first Arizona Diamondback so honored for either award.  In 2002, he went 23–7 with a 3.23 ERA. He struck out 316 batters while walking 33 in 259.1 innings. On April 7, 2002, Schilling threw a one-hit shutout striking out 17 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Both years he finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Johnson.

On September 16, 2004, Schilling won his 20th game of 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”.  Schilling was once again runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2004, this time to Minnesota Twins hurler Johan Santana.  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.  For the 2006 season, Schilling was said to be healthy.  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. 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.  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.

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.

  •      1 time finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins, leading the league in 2004.
  •      2 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.
  •      4 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Wins, leading the league in 2001.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Strikeouts, leading the league twice.
  •      8 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in ERA (1 time in the American League).
  •      10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Complete Games, leading the league 4 times.
  •      10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Shutouts (1 time in the American League).

6 All Star Games.  2 time 20 game winner.  Schilling appeared on a total of 4 Cy Young Award Ballots (3 National/ 1 American) finishing second 3 times.  He appeared on the Most Valuable Player ballot 4 times (3 National / 1 American) finishing in the top 10 twice.  3 time World Series Champion including a 1993 NLCS MVP award and 2001 World Series MVP award.  A Roberto Clemente Award/Branch Rickey Award/Babe Ruth Award winner in 2001.

At the end of the day, it becomes a two-horse race, my sentimental favorite Mr. Tiant dropping off.  But as we have seen, there are questions, answers and some of the numbers are deceiving.  Yes, Morris has some great numbers but has negatives to go along with them.  For all the experts who tout Jack’s big game post-season prowess, Curt buries him.  Sure, Morris has four WS titles, but pitched below average in one and didn’t even pitch in another.  The big 1991 performance against the Braves?  The Bloody Sock game in 2004.  Looking past Morris’  wins and the fact he has more losses, Schilling sports a higher win percentage.  Who played for more perennial contenders?  Who played for better run producers?  And on and on…..

The questions will wage on, but the timetable is fairly limited, adding more fuel to the fire.  This year marked Morris’ 13th on the ballot, leaving two more attempts.  In two years, this could be a battle for the ‘Golden Age’ Committee or Veterans committee or whatever the guys who keep deserving but still breathing players out of the hall, therefore keeping their divided annual shares in tact, call themselves.

#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.

“Two Captains, One Destiny”

That was the tagline from Star Trek: Generations.  One of the lesser Trek films but definitely the one which brought most Trekkies war of words in the Kirk versus Picard battle to a zenith.

Hypothetically, till we hear otherwise, Jason Varitek is gone.

And hell, since were getting more questions than answers… let’s rock…  I’m Bobby V., my first year at the helm, I’m psyched, nervous and in need of a team captain.  Do I leave it to the veterans to guide the team?  Do I not appoint, anoint or christen a new captain and just seize the role of Supreme Leader? Should I go with the highest paid perennial all-star and MVP candidate who works with a proven yet quiet determination?  Do I look to the two-time World Series Champion, the most clutch Designated Hitter in the history of the team (who made a d!ck of himself during ‘the fallout’)?  How do I not give a serious look at the stalwart, rugged and unwavering 3B who always seems to be somewhere on the MVP ballot?  Or I do take the risk of getting a no holds barred tell it like it is in your face pint-sized MVP who is the first to arrive, the last to leave and has been consistently reminded he’s just too damn small to be in the major leagues.  In the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin, “Oh Hell Yeah!”.  Dustin Pedroia.  Pedey may in fact be the baseball equivalent of SCSA, or for a modern-day wrestler, C.M. Punk.  Both are guys who let their personal lives, struggles and feelings permeate their ‘characters’ and both are the wrestling equivalent of Kevin Millar.  I’ll go to war with either ‘One-Five’ any day of the week and a doubleheader on Sundays.  Pedey was the loudest voice following the destruction of Tito Francona and the first we heard from following the confirmation of Bobby V’s hiring.  Like Varitek, he’s a proven warhorse on the field and his voice and opinion obviously counts for something off it.   For as much as Valentine is going to take the ‘pressure’ off the boys and make it an atmosphere where they can play… let’s remember that he’s there because the last manager made it too comfortable.  If we’re supposed to believe the reputation, Bobby is a diva… and should have a captain who can balance that image with one of his own.

Let’s look at the history of a few Boston Captains… Ted Williams was the best hitter of his and arguably any generation while also being a loud, foul-mouthed know it all with an ego the size of his home state and a hatred for the ‘Knights of the Keyboard’ to match.  Captain Carl was a lifelong Red Sox who carried the respect of the ‘The Nation’ and quietly took the teams he was given on his Hall of Fame shoulders for a good deal of his twenty plus year career bridging the gap between Ted and Jim Ed.  But, let’s look at a few other Bostonians to wear the ‘C’.  Eddie Shore refused an anesthetic while a doctor sewed his ear back on.  Bobby Orr, only the greatest hockey player to wear skates (sorry Wayne Gretzky lovers, but Wayne only played forward… Bobby played defense and dominated the all-around game) and he shared his captaincy with Bucyk and Espo for the most part.  Ray Bourque was known simply as ‘The Captain’, a quiet yet powerful presence who led by example and had no problem putting himself before the team (except when he requested a trade due to his age and knowing the B’s weren’t going anywhere) nor did his alternate captain and Hall of Fame partner Cam Neely, a player of equal quiet ferocity who as president of the Bruins changed the landscape of the entire franchise and helped deliver the Stanley Cup.  Big Z is in the same mold, with no fear of physically defending his teammates on the ice and setting the example in the locker room.  Bill Russell, Hondo, Bird and Garnett… nuff’ said.

Sure, Varitek will in no way be an easy act to follow, but nor should he be.  A team is a changing dynamic and requires someone who can change with it.  That, if anything, would be the undertone of this off-season.  Change and adaptation.  Bobby Valentine is that change while Dustin Pedroia is the adaptation.

“Same Old Song and Dance…”

To borrow a phrase from a slightly popular local music group…. It is indeed the same old song and dance, just different dance partners.  Or to put in easier terms, “Same sh!t, different day”.

Anyone who is a ‘real‘ fan of the Red Stockings, meaning a member of the Nation since the dark days long before 2004, already know what all of this is.  Red Sox ownership in their version of Spin Control. Sure, their Doctors of Spin are the equivalent of a mentally defective monkey humping a baseball but they apparently get the job done.

Regimes change, the excuses stay the same.

Has there been a need for this nuclear warfare in the aftermath of ‘The Collapse’?  Of course not.  Francona fell on the sword, took the blame and left town.  Ah, but he do it in the way he was told to? Apparently not.  Tito alluded to the problems which arose in the clubhouse (which the owners also alluded to) and the fact he was tuned out… but then dropped that little ticking time bomb of “I wasn’t sure the owners had my back…” And the Mass Destruction of Terry Francona had begun.  Sinfully Disgraceful may be the only way to put it.  Unnamed sources, personal matters… all disgusting.  Of course they’re unnamed sources, they’re rats running about the sinking ship on fire trying to burn whatever they can for their masters in hopes of keeping their job once the flames are put out and the ship is righted.  And the press?  Using this fairly unconfirmed personal information about Tito’s mental health, medication and then his unfortunately distressed marriage?  Well, the Boston press has been heavy-handed and taking liberties ever since Paul Revere proclaimed that little warning about the oncoming British.  Especially the Boston Sports Press, which is a blessing and a curse as they are the best at what they do from both sides of the spectrum.  And whose to say that even if the Sox hadn’t collapsed, if they made a decent run or perhaps won it all that Theo wasn’t leaving?  The Cubs think he’s a hot commodity following the epic September fail?  Imagine what hot sh!t Theo would have been if they’d won?  This has been coming (remember the off-season back in the ’05-’06 days when he quit the job, took a vacation and then came back? It was because he was tired of having his toes stepped on…), it just didn’t have to end like this.

Or if history has shown us, maybe it did.

Let’s look at Boston’s divorce history (Bill Buckner, Manny and Grady Little aside).   Pedro and Derek Lowe and even Johnny Damon pale in comparison to that nutty, paranoid Nomar.  Then there’s Mo Vaughn and his drunken, truck flippin’ hung-over stripper lovin’ self.  Wade Boggs defection to the Bronx Zoo was fairly quiet compared to The Rocket who was a drunk, fat bastard in the twilight of his career (remind you, he hadn’t hit the juice yet… and is still a bastard) or even the ousting of Joe Morgan.  Dewey had a fairly amicable split for an in-house legend, unlike Jim Rice or Yaz. The 1970’s and early ’80’s was basically a huge divorce gone bad… Bill Lee, George Scott, Fergie Jenkins, Louis Tiant, Eck and let’s not forget Pudge Fisk.  Of course the Patron Saint of the Red Sox, Johnny Pesky, could tell you how complimentary everyone was when Teddy Ballgame left town.  Not cause he was here but because he was Ted’s friend and had a front row seat.  (I’ll omit Babe Ruth because most of his behavior was, in fact, dead on juvenile delinquent true.)

Notice a lot of these names… they’re part of the lore. All easily recognized by one name.  Ted.  Fisk. Yaz. Rice. Rocket. Nomar. Pedro. Theo. Tito.  The Red Sox are the embodiment of that old adage, “You build your heroes up just to tear them down.”  But they’re hardly alone.

So, to David Ortiz (yeah, I’ll say it) and all you bandwagon Yankees fans (because the actual fans already know how it works) who want to remind us of the class and swagger a dynasty carries… f*@% you.  Stop trying to take the ‘high road’ by ignoring the Steinbrenner Era or the legacy the Sons of Steinbrenner have already forged. Ask Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, Joe Torre or most recently Mo Rivera or ‘Mister Yankee’ himself Derek Jeter.  Yeah, the ‘Bombers have never had drama or been a soap opera… jacka$$.

 
Are the Sox still an elite team? Yes.  Do they still have the talent to contend? Yes.  Do they still have an ownership group committed to winning? No wins, no money.. so Yes.  Is it time to change the ‘make-up’ of the team.  Yes.  But these are matters, some of them possibly drastic, best saved for the GM and field Manager… oh, wait.

I think at the end of the day, all the real fan can do is wish Theo all the best in Chicago (we’ll see you next season at Wrigley) and thank both he and Tito for everything they did to bring two WS titles home.   Same to a number of faces from the wonderful October of 2004 which may be joining them… Papi, Wake and Tek.

Same Old Song and Dance.

Hall of Famer’s who wore Red Sox….

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
Luis Aparicio 1971-73
Wade Boggs 1982-92
Lou Boudreau 1951-52
Jesse Burkett 1905
Orlando Cepeda 1973
Jack Chesbro 1909
Jimmy Collins 1901-07
Joe Cronin

Andre Dawson

1935-45

1993-94

Bobby Doerr 1937-44, 1946-51
Dennis Eckersley 1978-84, 1998
Rick Ferrell 1934-37
Carlton Fisk 1969, 1971-80
Jimmie Foxx 1936-42
Lefty Grove 1934-41
Harry Hooper 1909-20
Waite Hoyt 1919-20
Fergie Jenkins 1976-77
George Kell 1952-54
Heinie Manush 1936
Juan Marichal 1974
Herb Pennock 1915-22
Tony Perez 1980-82
Jim Rice 1974-89
Red Ruffing 1924-30
Babe Ruth 1914-19
Tom Seaver 1986
Al Simmons 1943
Tris Speaker 1907-15
Dick Williams 1963-64
Ted Williams 1939-42, 1946-60
Carl Yastrzemski 1961-83
Cy Young 1901-08

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
Bobby Doerr – #1
  • 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.
Jim Rice – #14
  • 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.

Decisions, decisions.

The Red Sox Hall of Fame…

With questions of ‘The Best’ or ‘Top 5’, ‘Top 10’ and so on I figured I’d take a moment to look over the hallowed halls of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

These are the basics…

The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame was instituted in 1995 to recognize the careers of former Boston Red Sox baseball players. A 15-member selection committee of Red Sox broadcasters and executives, past and present media personnel, and representatives from The Sports Museum of New England and the BoSox Club are responsible for nominating candidates.

The criteria for selection into the Hall is as follows:

  • Player to be eligible for nomination must have played a minimum of three years with the Boston Red Sox and must also have been out of uniform as an active player a minimum of three years.
  • Non-uniformed honorees such as broadcasters and front office execs are inducted by a unanimous vote of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame selection committee. The memorable moment will be chosen by the committee as well.
  • Former Boston Red Sox players and personnel in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (NBHOF) in Cooperstown, New York will be automatically enshrined in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
1995
  • Tony Conigliaro
  • Joe Cronin (1956 NBHOF)
  • Dom DiMaggio
  • Bobby Doerr (1986 NBHOF)
  • Jean R. Yawkey (front office)
  • Frank Malzone
  • Johnny Pesky
  • Jim Rice (2009 NBHOF)
  • Babe Ruth (1936 NBHOF)
  • Ted Williams (1966 NBHOF)
  • Smoky Joe Wood
  • Carl Yastrzemski (1989 NBHOF)
1997
  • Carlton Fisk (2000 NBHOF)
  • Jimmie Foxx (1951 NBHOF)
  • Harry Hooper (1971 NBHOF)
  • Dick O’Connell (front office)
  • Mel Parnell
  • Rico Petrocelli
  • Dick Radatz
  • Luis Tiant
  • Cy Young (1937 NBHOF)
2000
  • Ken Coleman (broadcaster)
  • Dwight Evans
  • Larry Gardner
  • Curt Gowdy
  • Jackie Jensen
  • Ned Martin (broadcaster)
  • Bill Monbouquette
  • Reggie Smith
  • Tris Speaker (1937 NBHOF)
  • Bob Stanley
2002
  • Rick Burleson
  • Boo Ferriss
  • Lou Gorman
  • John Harrington
  • Tex Hughson
  • Duffy Lewis
  • Jim Lonborg
  • Fred Lynn
2004
  • Wade Boggs (2005 NBHOF)
  • Bill Carrigan
  • Jimmy Collins (1945 NBHOF)
  • Dennis Eckersley (2004 NBHOF)
  • Billy Goodman
  • Bruce Hurst
  • Ben Mondor (Pawtucket Red Sox owner)
  • Pete Runnels
  • Haywood Sullivan (front office)
2006
  • Dick Bresciani (front office)
  • Ellis Kinder
  • Joe Morgan (manager)
  • Jerry Remy (player and broadcaster)
  • George Scott
  • Vern Stephens
  • Dick Williams (manager) (2008 NBHOF)
2008
  • George Digby (scout)
  • Wes Ferrell
  • Mike Greenwell
  • Edward Kenney, Sr. (front office)
  • Bill Lee
  • Everett Scott
  • Frank Sullivan
  • Mo Vaughn
2009
  • Jim Rice (2009 NBHOF)
2010
  • John Valentin
  • Don Zimmer
  • Tommy Harper
  • Eddie Kasko
  • Jimmy Piersall

Memorable moments

  • 1995: Roger Clemens’ first 20-strikeout game in 1986
  • 1995: Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
  • 2000: Dave Henderson’s game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series
  • 2002: Earl Wilson’s no-hitter on June 26, 1962
  • 2004: Bernie Carbo’s pinch-hit home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
  • 2006: Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series
  • 2008: Ted Williams’ home run in his final Major League at-bat on September 28, 1960, versus the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park
  • 2010: Tom Brunansky’s diving catch of Ozzie Guillén’s line drive in the ninth inning of the season ending game that preserved the Red Sox victory sending them to the 1990 playoffs

And all of this information, sadly, still doesn’t lend itself to the easy selection of ‘Top Something Red Sox of all-time’.  So I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way and look at the facts, stat for stat, player by player… oh boy.  Now, to weave through the enormous bulk of the statistics and the lesser players who exist in the higher end of all-time numbers through the merit of less time served, I’m planning on setting a minimum of 800 games played in a Red Sox uniform.

Batting Average:                          Home Runs:

1. Ted Williams      .344                  Ted Williams         521

2. Wade Boggs       .338                  C. Yastrzemski      452

3. Tris Speaker       .337                  Jim Rice                 382

4. N. Garciaparra   .323                 Dwight Evans        379

5. Jimmie Foxx       .320                 David Ortiz*          310

6. Johnny Pesky      .313                 Manny Ramirez    274

7. Manny Ramirez  .312                 Mo Vaughn             230

8. Fred Lynn            .308                Bobby Doerr           223

9. Billy Goodman    .306                Jimmie Foxx         222

10. Mo Vaughn        .304                Rico Petrocelli      210

Runs Batted In:                           Games:

C. Yastrzemski      1844                  C. Yastrzemski     3308

Ted Williams         1839                  Dwight Evans       2505

Jim Rice                 1451                   Ted Williams        2292

Dwight Evans        1346                   Jim Rice                2089

Bobby Doerr          1247                   Bobby Doerr         1865

David Ortiz*           987                    Harry Hooper      1647

Manny Ramirez    868                    Wade Boggs          1625

Jimmie Foxx          788                    Rico Petrocelli      1553

Rico Petrocelli       773                    Jason Varitek*      1520

Mo Vaughn            752                     Dom DiMaggio    1399

Doubles:                                          Triples:

1. C. Yastrzemski      646                 Harry Hooper        130

2. Ted Williams         525                 Tris Speaker          106

3. Dwight Evans        474                Buck Freeman        90

4. Wade Boggs           422                Bobby Doerr           89

5. Bobby Doerr          381                 Larry Gardner        87

6. Jim Rice                 373                 Jim Rice                   79

7. David Ortiz*           331                 ‘Hobe’ Ferris           77

8. Dom DiMaggio      308               Dwight Evans          72

9. Jason Varitek*       305               Ted Williams            71

10. N. Garciaparra     279               Freddy Parent          63

Bases on Balls:                                Runs Scored:

Ted Williams         2019                     C. Yastrzemski      1816

C. Yastrzemski      1845                      Ted Williams        1798

Dwight Evans        1337                      Dwight Evans       1435

Wade Boggs          1004                       Jim Rice                1249

Harry Hooper        826                      Bobby Doerr        1094

Bobby Doerr          809                       Wade Boggs         1067

Dom DiMaggio      750                       Dom DiMaggio    1046

David Ortiz*           734                       Harry Hooper       988

Jim Rice                 670                        David Ortiz*          812

Rico Petrocelli       661                        Johnny Pesky       776

For the same reason of wading through the massive amount of statistics, I limited my selections of pitchers to a minimum 200 appearances in a Red Sox uniform.

Wins:                                             Earned Run Average:

1. Roger Clemens      192               Joe Wood                 1.99

2. Cy Young                192               Cy Young                  2.00

3. Tim Wakefield*     184              Dutch Leonard         2.13

4. Mel Parnell             123              Pedro Martinez        2.52

5. Luis Tiant                122              George Winter         2.91

6. Pedro Martinez      117               Tex Huson               2.94

7. Joe Wood                 117              Roger Clemens        3.06

8. Bob Stanley             115              Ellis Kinder              3.28

9. Joe Dobson             106             Lefty Grove               3.34

10. Lefty Grove            105             Luis Tiant                  3.36

Strikeouts:                                     Complete Games:

Roger Clemens         2590               Cy Young               275

Tim Wakefield*       1993                George Winter      141

Pedro Martinez        1683                Joe Wood              121

Cy Young                   1341                Lefty Grove           119

Luis Tiant                  1075                Mel Parnell           113

Bruce Hurst             1043                 Luis Tiant              113

Joe Wood                  986                  Roger Clemens     100

B. Monbouquette     969                 Tex Huson              99

Frank Sullivan          821                 Dutch Leonard       96

Jim Lonborg             784                 Joe Dobson            90

Innings Pitched:                               Shutouts:

1. Tim Wakefield*         2933.0          Roger Clemens          38

2. Roger Clemens          2776.0          Cy Young                    38

3. Cy Young                    2728.1           Joe Wood                   28

4.  Luis Tiant                  1774.2           Luis Tiant                   26

5. Mel Parnell                 1752.2          Dutch Leonard           25

6. Bob Stanley                1707.0          Mel Parnell                 20

7. B. Monbouquette      1622.0          Tex Huson                   19

8. George Winter           1599.2          Joe Dobson                 17

9. Joe Dobson                1544.0          B. Monbouquette       16

10. Lefty Grove              1539.2           Lefty Grove                 15

Saves have been included simply for historical significance.  I’m listing the full top ten, but lowering the minimum to 100 appearances in a Red Sox uniform.

Saves:

1. Jon Papelbon*               208

2. Bob Stanley                    132

3. Dick Radatz                    104

4. Ellis Kinder                      91

5. Jeff Reardon                    88

6. Derek Lowe*                    85

7. Sparky Lyle                      69

8. Tom Gordon                    68

9. Lee Smith                         58

10. Bill Campbell                 51

Now a lot of names repeat themselves in these lists of all-time stats, while a few names were omitted for lack of appearances, such as Pete Runnels for a few hitting categories and pitchers Jon Lester and Josh Beckett for strikeouts as well as Babe Ruth for a number of pitching categories including ERA (4th with 2.19), complete games (8th with 105) and shutouts (11th with 17).  I left out stats such as Extra Base Hits, Slugging and On-Base percentages as they were simply more of the same names in different order.  You can view them yourself here:  http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/history/all_time_leaders.jsp

Okay, there are the stats for the most part (no, I’m not including fielding stats because a few of the categories are geared towards infielders, particularly first basemen and catchers), so lets take a look at award winners.

Most Valuable Player: This is the BBWAA MVP award created in 1931, and does not include the Chalmers Award (1911–1914) or the League Awards (1922–1929).

Dustin Pedroia* (2008), Mo Vaughn (1995), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Yaz (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1949 & 1946) and Jimmie Foxx (1938).

Rookie of the Year:

Dustin Pedroia (2007), Nomar Garciaparra (1997), Fred Lynn (1975), Carlton Fisk (1972), Don Schwall (1961) and Walt Dropo (1950).

Now lets take a look at a few more historical league leaders…

… We’ll cover hitting first…

Batting Champions
Year Player Average
2003 Bill Mueller .326
2002 Manny Ramirez .349
2000 Nomar Garciaparra .372
1999 Nomar Garciaparra .357
1988 Wade Boggs .366
1987 Wade Boggs .363
1986 Wade Boggs .357
1985 Wade Boggs .368
1983 Wade Boggs .361
1981 Carney Lansford .336
1979 Fred Lynn .333
1968 Carl Yastrzemski .301
1967 Carl Yastrzemski .326
1963 Carl Yastrzemski .321
1962 Pete Runnels .326
1960 Pete Runnels .320
1958 Ted Williams .328
1957 Ted Williams .388
1950 Billy Goodman .354
1948 Ted Williams .369
1947 Ted Williams .343
1942 Ted Williams .356
1941 Ted Williams .406
1938 Jimmie Foxx .349
1932 Dale Alexander .367
Home Run Champions
Year Player HR
1984 Tony Armas 43
1983 Jim Rice 39
1981 Dwight Evans 22
1978 Jim Rice 46
1977 Jim Rice 39
1967 Carl Yastrzemski 44
1965 Tony Conigliaro 32
1949 Ted Williams 43
1947 Ted Williams 32
1942 Ted Williams 36
1941 Ted Williams 37
1939 Jimmie Foxx 35
1919 Babe Ruth 29
1918 Babe Ruth 11
1912 Tris Speaker 10
1910 Jake Stahl 10
1903 Buck Freeman 13
Triple Crown: Batting
Year Player Avg., HR, RBIs
1967 Carl Yastrzemski .326, 44, 121
1947 Ted Williams .343, 32, 114
1942 Ted Williams .356, 36, 137

… And now the Pitching…

ERA Champions
Year Player ERA
2003 Pedro Martinez 2.22
2002 Pedro Martinez 2.26
2000 Pedro Martinez 1.74
1999 Pedro Martinez 2.07
1992 Roger Clemens 2.41
1991 Roger Clemens 2.62
1990 Roger Clemens 1.93
1986 Roger Clemens 2.48
1972 Luis Tiant 1.91
1949 Mel Parnell 2.78
1939 Lefty Grove 2.54
1938 Lefty Grove 3.08
1936 Lefty Grove 2.81
1935 Lefty Grove 2.70
1916 Babe Ruth 1.75
1915 Joe Wood 1.49
1914 Dutch Leonard 0.96
1901 Cy Young 1.62
Strikeout Champions
Year Player Strikeouts
2002 Pedro Martinez 239
2001 Hideo Nomo 220
2000 Pedro Martinez 284
1999 Pedro Martinez 313
1996 Roger Clemens 257
1991 Roger Clemens 241
1988 Roger Clemens 291
1967 Jim Lonborg 246
1942 Tex Hughson 113
1901 Cy Young 158
Triple Crown: Pitching
Year Player Wins, ERA, Ks
1999 Pedro Martinez 23, 2.07, 313
1901 Cy Young 33, 1.62, 158
Cy Young
Pedro Martinez 2000
Pedro Martinez 1999
Roger Clemens 1991
Roger Clemens 1987
Roger Clemens 1986
Jim Lonborg 1967

Now, for the sake of being fairly thorough and not wanting to completely leave the legendary defensive efforts in limbo, here are the list of Gold Glove Winners…

Gold Gloves
Player Pos Year
Dustin Pedroia 2B 2008
Jason Varitek C 2005
Tony Peña C 1991
Ellis Burks OF 1990
Dwight Evans OF 1985
Dwight Evans OF 1984
Dwight Evans OF 1983
Dwight Evans OF 1982
Dwight Evans OF 1981
Fred Lynn OF 1980
Fred Lynn OF 1979
Dwight Evans OF 1979
Rick Burleson SS 1979
Fred Lynn OF 1978
Dwight Evans OF 1978
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1977
Dwight Evans OF 1976
Fred Lynn OF 1975
Doug Griffin 2B 1972
Carlton Fisk C 1972
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1971
George Scott 1B 1971
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1969
Reggie Smith OF 1968
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1968
George Scott 1B 1968
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1967
George Scott 1B 1967
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1965
Carl Yastrzemski OF 1963
Jackie Jensen OF 1959
Frank Malzone 3B 1959
Jim Piersall CF 1958
Frank Malzone 3B 1958
Frank Malzone 3B 1957

So, has any of this cemented anything?  No… but it has provided a little bit more depth into the varied history of the players who have worn the Red, White and Blue of the Boston Americans across the many decades.  Looking at a few of these league leading categories, it also sheds some light on periods where offense seemed to overshadow pitching and how both seemed to dwarf defense… but then again, the Yawkey regime was always known for the sizzle of the home run show over the actual steak of baseball.

Okay, for the next installment I’ll be looking at those who are inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and probably a few players who should have been but weren’t.  Hey, you can’t make an omelete without breaking some eggs and sure as hell can’t have any sort of ‘Best of…’ or ‘Top (insert number here)..’ list without a little controversy.

That’s A Good Question….

With the Pinstripe Captain reaching his 3000th hit in such ‘Grand’ fashion (as any New York scripted Yankee milestone would be), there has been a lot of talk, blogging and general conversing on where he ranks all-time for the game’s most historic team.

This tidbit is lifted from www.thepostgame.com :

Where Does Derek Jeter Rank On The List of Greatest Yankees Ever?

Written by: Steve Henson

Now there are six.

The greatest New York Yankees have long been counted on one hand. Babe Ruth is the unquestioned No. 1, after which the order is debatable but not the names: alphabetically, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle.

Add Derek Jeter to the mix.

Jeter became the first Yankee to accumulate 3,000 hits in pinstripes when he hit a solo home run off Tampa Bay lefty David Price in the third inning Saturday in the Bronx. Jeter, who just returned after spending three weeks on the disabled list with a calf injury, singled in the first inning for No. 2,999. In his next at-bat, Jeter ripped a full-count slider from Price into the leftfield seats.  And despite the recent cyber-trend to disparage Jeter’s game and accomplishments, he deserves mention alongside the best to play for baseball’s most storied franchise.

Precisely where does he rank? From a poetic standpoint, No. 2 would be the perfect perch. Cue a tape of Bob Sheppard to make the announcement:

“The shortstop, number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2.”

But that’s a difficult case to make. To eclipse every Yankee except Ruth, Jeter would need to bounce back offensively through 2013. He’d need to change positions so his deficient range at shortstop recedes into memory. And the Yankees would need to win two more World Series with Jeter a driving force through those postseasons.

Today, though, Jeter has gained entry into the land of the elite. A Fab Five is now a Sparkling Six.

Here’s our list, in reverse order. Class, grace and a certain “Yankee-ness” count. So do stats. Only accomplishments with the Yankees are considered.

It all adds up to “greatness,” an admittedly imprecise blend of hard numbers and subjective notions.

6. Yogi Berra

Berra was part of a major league record 10 World Series champion teams, was named American League Most Valuable Player three times and played the most demanding position on the field. He also developed an iconic oracle-like persona with his fractured speech and hilarious yet astute observations. And at 86, he’s not only the lone living member of the Sparkling Six besides Jeter, he still wears pinstripes. Berra anchored the team during its late-1940s and 1950s heyday, succeeding Hall-of-Famer Bill Dickey at catcher and playing alongside DiMaggio and Mantle. He has the fourth-highest Wins Above Replacement of any catcher in history.

5. Derek Jeter

Jeter’s stature and leadership are unsurpassed. His production in the media hellfire of the Bronx has been phenomenally consistent. His five World Series titles and overall postseason excellence set him apart from other active players. In 2001, his flip of a relay throw to home plate and his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the World Series are among the most memorable moments in Yankees history. Of course he’s slipping at 37: Mantle, DiMaggio and Gehrig were retired at that age. Yes, he’s made more outs and hit into more double plays than any other Yankee and he’ll probably pass Mantle for most strikeouts. One milestone begets others for the player with the most plate appearances, official at-bats, hits and stolen bases. Each category speaks to longevity, durability, toughness and resilience.

4. Mickey Mantle

Like DiMaggio, Mantle retired at age 36. Like Jeter, his defensive skills eroded with age and — in Mantle’s case — injury. But like Berra, Mantle played 18 Yankee seasons because he broke in at age 19. He and Willie Mays vied for the title of best player on the planet through the 1950s and much of the ’60s. The switch-hitting Mantle was AL MVP three times and he led the Yankees to 12 World Series, winning seven titles. He might have had more natural ability than any player ever, but he frittered away some of his talent partying. Who knows the numbers he could have amassed had he not been such a carouser? That question need never be asked of Jeter, who by remaining productive for two more seasons could swap places with Mantle.

3. Joe DiMaggio

The Yankee Clipper was the team’s most majestic player, and only Gehrig and Jeter approach his stateliness. DiMaggio’s greatest accomplishment is his record 56-game hitting streak. A close second is his nine World Series titles, behind only Berra in Yankee history. DiMaggio’s offensive numbers across the board are exceptional per season, but his career totals are lacking because he retired after 13 seasons, at least four fewer than the others on the list, primarily because he missed three years serving in World War II. At age 35 in 1950 DiMaggio had a stellar season that mirrored his career numbers. A year later his performance declined because of nagging injuries and he hung ’em up after helping the Yankees to one more World Series championship.

2. Lou Gehrig

As he was in the Yankees lineup from 1925 to 1934, Gehrig is immediately behind Ruth on the list of Yankee Greats. When the measure is a blend of batting statistics, World Series titles, impact on baseball, impact on New York, larger-than-life persona and unforgettable nickname, The Iron Horse noses out the rest of the pack. Gehrig’s greatness was perhaps best displayed after Ruth left the Yankees. Gehrig led the team to three more World Series titles for a total of six, and he batted .361 with a staggering 1.208 OPS in the postseason. His career was tragically cut short at 36 after 17 seasons because of the rare disease that bears his name.

1. Babe Ruth

Besides singlehandedly introducing home run power as the game’s most lethal weapon and gate attraction, Ruth also made the Yankees the greatest team in baseball. Before his arrival in New York in 1920, the franchise had a losing record. In Ruth’s 15 seasons with the Yankees, and for the next 30 years beyond his departure, they had only one losing season. His career offensive Wins Above Replacement of 143 is easily the franchise best and he holds the trifecta of highest batting average (.349), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.690). Ruth won fewer World Series titles with the Yankees (four) than any of the others on this list. But he delivered, hitting 15 homers in 117 at-bats. .


 With all of these talks of greatness and stats to prove it.. it begins the question (again) of who may qualify for top five or six for the greatest Red Sox of all time.  Obviously, the list is started with the unquestionable Number One in Ted Williams (not bias just fact), but who falls in after that?  Yaz makes the list somewhere in the 2 to 3 range, maybe even a Jim Ed or Dewey… names like Fred Lynn or Jimmy Foxx may spring to mind, members of Million Dollar Outfield maybe?  Carlton Fisk would seem to be a thought, and even though many will list him as the greatest Sox catcher just ahead of ‘Tek, the fact remains, he spent more years of his career in Bleached Hose than Scarlett.  Of course, talk then drifts towards Cy Young, Roger Clemens (who judging by his weight and much of the court documents was clean while in a Boston uniform), Bill Lee, maybe even Tim Wakefield..?
This will require much more investigative effort.
Moving on to other thoughts….
It’s the All-Star Break and the Sox have taken over first place in the American League East.  Sure, it isn’t a commanding lead, but hell we’re leading the ‘Bombers and even a half game up is still up, so a whole game is all the better.  The Sox have a very good number of worthy players attending the Midsummer Classic either through voting, manager’s decision or replacement.  However it happens, congrats to them!
1B Adrian Gonzalez:  In his first year with the Boston Americans, A-Gon has made an easy case in his first half season to make the list of top five or six Red Sox of all time.  Though many said he started the season a bit cold and required a month or so to adjust to Fenway’s dimensions (he, Ortiz and Lowry the only ones hitting in the first month or so…), he easily established himself as the anchor of the team having a profound effect on not only the line-up but his teammates, Big Papi inparticular.  His standing as top-vote getter at first, beating out the likes of uber popular Pinstripe Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera was indeed worthy.
DH David Ortiz: The last few seasons had not seen the kindest starts for Big Papi, however this year proved much different.  Either through improved conditioning, different mental approach or as he has said, a bit of both combined with the surprising mentoring from A-Gon, Ortiz has reinvented himself as the premier DH in the League and once again one of the most feared clutch hitters, far different than the questionable talk from BoSox management to end last season.  With this youthful resurgance, Papi & A-Gon could become a more historically feared tandem than Papi & Manny, giving the Sox yet another power driven throwback to Mantle & Maris.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury:  His name being such a well known one in The Nation, it’s often hard to remember just how long he’s been in the big leagues.  Having led the CF voting for a majority of the time, his loss to a returning Josh Hamilton (of the disabled list Hamiltons) was a bit sour, however his being pencilled in as a postion reserve is just as good. This marks Ellsbury first trip to the Midsummer Classic and is well deserved especially when looking at the injury plagued career setback known as the 2010 season.
3B Kevin Youkillis: Now, obviously Youk is not having his best year… he’s been taking a beating physically at the plate (foul balls, HBP, twisted ankles) and making an honest attempt to re-adjust to 3B while hbbling on and off the field… but he’s been doing it quietly and with his normal intense passion.  Often overlooked by the majority of the League, having been surrounded by names such as Ramirez, Bay, Ortiz, Lowell, Pedroia, Lester, Beckett and Papelbon, he’s made top five in MVP voting a few times but is annually deserving of a trip to the Midsummer Classic.
RHP Josh Beckett:  A few seasons ago, there was question if the Sox should even resign him, nevermind to the contract he actually got.  Last season brought even more of the same.  If he wasn’t fighting a plague of nagging injuries it was almost as if he was fighting himself… a bit of that comfortability that plagued The Rocket in his final few years in Fenway.  But Beckett, like Ortiz, has re-lit the fire and showed up to camp a few years younger and as a re-invented player.  Despite the flu and a few passed starts due to various ailments, he’s shown himself once again as an elite pitcher and an anchor in the (when healthy) Trifecta of Boston’s starting rotation.
Honorable mention should of course go out to Jon Papelbon.  Even though the ‘Tower of Terror” has hit a pothole or two along the way, he is enjoying a resurgence as a premier closer once more, putting the bumps and dropping velocity of the past few seasons behind him.