… by the Eagles is one of my favorite songs (and one of the best songs in American songwriting history) and what I felt would be a fairly good transition into the troublesome world of the Oakland Athletics.
The A’s, or the Montreal Expos West Coast, just finished one of the semi-annual fire sales. Chances are, should they still be in Oakland in two to three years, they’ll be holding another one. Don’t get me wrong, these sales are great for baseball. It gives other teams a chance to trade prospects for what are usually great young arms and keep one of baseball’s historic (yes, historic) and once proud franchises in the basement.
Lets take a brief look at the past…
The history of the Athletics Major League Baseball franchise spans the period from 1901 to the present day, having begun in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City in 1955 and then to its current home in Oakland, California in 1968.
The “Athletics” name originates from the late 19th century “athletic clubs”, specifically the Philadelphia Athletics baseball club. They are most prominently nicknamed “the A’s”, in reference to the Gothic script “A”, a trademark of the team and the old Athletics of Philadelphia. This has gained very prominent use, and in some circles is used more frequently than the full “Athletics” name. They are also known as “the White Elephants” or simply “the Elephants”, in reference to then New York Giants manager John McGraw calling the team a “white elephant”. This was embraced by the team, who then made a white elephant the team’s mascot, and often incorporated it into the logo or sleeve patches. The typical Philadelphia uniform had only a script “A” on the left front, and likewise the cap usually had the same “A” on it. In the early days of the American League, the standings listed the club as “Athletic” rather than “Philadelphia”, in keeping with the old tradition. Eventually, the city name came to be used for the team, as with the other major league clubs. After buying the team in 1960, owner Charles O. Finley introduced new road uniforms with “Kansas City” printed on them, as well as an interlocking “KC” on the cap. Also while in Kansas City, Finley changed the team’s colors from their traditional red, white and blue to what he termed “Kelly Green, Wedding Gown White and Fort Knox Gold.” It was also here that he began experimenting with dramatic uniforms to match these bright colors, such as gold sleeveless tops with green undershirts and gold pants. Upon moving to Oakland, the “A” cap emblem was restored, although in 1970 an “apostrophe-s” was added to the cap and uniform emblem to reflect the fact that Finley was in the process of officially changing the team’s name to the “A’s.” The innovative uniforms only increased after the team’s move to Oakland, which also came at the time of the introduction of polyester pullover uniforms. During the team’s 1970s heyday, management often referred to the team as The Swingin’ A’s, referencing both their prodigious power and to connect the team with the growing disco culture. During their dynasty years in the 1970s, the A’s had dozens of uniform combinations with jerseys and pants in all three team colors, and in fact did not wear the traditional gray on the road, instead wearing green or gold, which helped to contribute to their nickname of “The Swingin’ A’s.” After the team’s sale to the Haas family, the team changed its primary color to a more subdued forest green and began a move back to more traditional uniforms. New owner Walter Haas restored the official name to “Athletics” in 1981, but retained the nickname “A’s” for marketing purposes.
The A’s are the only MLB team to wear white cleats, both at home and on the road, another tradition dating back to the Finley ownership.
One of the American League’s eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniaia, in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. The team had some prominent success in Philadelphia, winning three of four World Series from 1910 to 1914 (the “First Dynasty”) and two in a row in 1929 and 1930 (the “Second Dynasty”). The team’s owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack, and its Hall-of-Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank “Home Run” Baker, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove. After two decades of decline, however, the team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics.
After 13 mostly uneventful seasons in the Midwest, the team moved to Oakland in 1968. There a “Third Dynasty” soon emerged, with three World Championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 led by players including Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and colorful owner Charlie O. Finley. Finally, a “Fourth Dynasty” won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the ‘Bash Brothers’ of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.
Since the mid 2000s the A’s have been in talks with Oakland and other Northern California cities about building a new baseball-only stadium. The planned stadium, Cisco Field, was originally intended to be built in Fremont, California (a location that has since been abandoned), and there were talks about it remaining in Oakland, and current talks about building it in San Jose.
As of February 26, 2009 the city of San Jose was expected to open negotiations with the team. Although parcels of land south of Diridon Station are being acquired by the city as a stadium site, the San Francisco Giants’ claim on Santa Clara County as part of their home territory would have to be dealt with before any agreement could be made. By August 2010, San Jose was “aggressively wooing” A’s owner Lew Wolff. Wolff referred to San Jose as the team’s “best option”, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he would wait on a report on whether the team could move to the area because of the Giants conflict. In September 2010, 75 Silicon Valley CEOs drafted and signed a letter to Bud Selig urging a timely approval of the move to San Jose. In May 2011 San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed sent a letter to Bud Selig asking the commissioner for a timetable of when he might decide whether the A’s can pursue this new ballpark, but Selig did not respond. Selig addressed the San Jose issue via an online town hall forum held in July, saying, “Well, the latest is, I have a small committee who has really assessed that whole situation, Oakland, San Francisco, and it is complex. You talk about complex situations; they have done a terrific job. I know there are some people who think it’s taken too long and I understand that. I’m willing to accept that. But you make decisions like this; I’ve always said, you’d better be careful. Better to get it done right than to get it done fast. But we’ll make a decision that’s based on logic and reason at the proper time.”
Well, the proper time is most likely sooner rather than later.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who was recently extended through 2014, has placed the A’s and their pursuit of a new stadium and a move to San Jose on the front burner. The special committee Selig put together to examine the dilemma has delivered a “comprehensive” report but has yet to be presented to all 30 owners. Still, Selig says they’re “proceeding at a rather quick pace” and seemed to agree to the suggested analogy that if the stadium issue were a baserunner, he’d be on third base. A’s owner Lew Wolff said he’s “delighted” to hear that Selig is prioritizing the situation and that MLB is moving toward a decision.
The Giants could fight back by supporting an anti-ballpark campaign in San Jose, where a special ballot referendum (partially financed by MLB) would need to pass, or perhaps even by persuading one of their sponsors to sue MLB (the Giants cannot sue MLB themselves). There’s also nothing preventing the Giants from filing a lawsuit against the city of San Jose itself.
The Giants’ territorial claim can be overturned by a 75 percent vote from MLB owners.
So, let’s look at it positively. Selig cleans up the whole mess, makes the Giants happy and San Jose constructs a stadium. Yay! The A’s (who currently have the worst stadium deal in most any major sport) will finally have a much-needed revenue stream to go with all those first round draft picks.
My suggestion… The California Athletics. Using the original and updated San Jose Sharks logos and looking at one-time Bruins Captain and #1 draft pick over-all Joe Thornton, we get some useful uniform and cap ideas. The new version of the Sharks jersey uses Deep Pacific teal, black, burnt orange and white. The Miami Marlins have, except for probably a throwback jersey or two, abandoned the teal shade as their primary color and it could easily transition west. The burnt orange could be amended to a more golden hue, and kept as a background color, mix well with the darker hues of teal, black and finally white. Taking cues from the Athletics’ past, they can create a great ‘new’ yet totally retro jersey color scheme for their jerseys and caps. Something that recalls the history of the Philadelphia Athletics while easily reminding you of the Oakland A’s. I’d imagine the only team with much of a complaint would be the Royals (The Royals of Kansas City who take their color cues from their predecessor Athletics), but even then, too bad. Look at how many teams utilize the ever familiar red, while and blue… The Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Angels and Nationals. After all, Baltimore and San Fransisco are practically twins (because when John McGraw left Baltimore for New York and the Giants, he took the familiar colors with him), yet easily separated.
The A’s are a proud and deserving franchise who, if the transition is done right, would definitely thrive in a new venue. Think of it like an expansion franchise designed to contend pretty quickly.
This installment of the investigative process will focus on members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who have been members of the storied Scarlett Hose, obviously with a bit more focus on those who are enshrined with the ‘B’ on their cap.
So here is the over all list….
… Players listed in bold are enshrined with the Red Sox ‘B’ upon their cap.
|Player||Years played with the Red Sox|
|Bobby Doerr||1937-44, 1946-51|
|Dennis Eckersley||1978-84, 1998|
|Carlton Fisk||1969, 1971-80|
|Ted Williams||1939-42, 1946-60|
A few notes: Jimmy Collins does not have a cap in his HOF plaque, however the Hall lists his primary team as Boston. Andre Dawson was omitted from the official Red Sox listing of former Sox in the HOF, however I’m including him because he did in fact play there… I saw it, with my own eyes. Jimmie Foxx is enshrined wearing a Red Sox cap, however the Hall, and rightfully so, recognizes his primary team as the Philadelphia Athletics… the same can be said of Lefty Grove.
And here is the official recording of the retired numbers (excluding Jackie Robinson’s #42 retired by Major League Baseball for the simple fact he was not a member of the Boston Red Sox, even if historically he probably should have been)…
The retired Red Sox numbers, along with Jackie Robinson’s #42 that was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, are posted on the right field facade in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox policy on retiring uniform numbers is based on the following criteria:
- Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
- At least 10 years played with the Red Sox
- Played 14 seasons in Majors, all with Red Sox (1937-44, 1946-51), before retiring due to a back injury.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
- Tied for AL lead with Dom DiMaggio in triples in 1950 (11).
- Led AL in slugging percentage in 1944 (.528).
- Named The Sporting News AL Player of the Year in 1944.
- Hit .409 (9-22) in 1946 World Series to lead Red Sox.
Joe Cronin – #4
- First modern-day player to become a league president.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956.
- Compiled .301 average in 20 MLB seasons.
- Affiliated with Red Sox for 24 seasons as player/manager, manager, and general manager.
- Leads all Red Sox managers with 1071 wins.
- Managed Red Sox to AL pennant in 1946.
- Holds AL record for pinch-hit homers in a season, 5 (1943).
- Became 1st player to hit pinch-hit homes in both games of a doubleheader, June 17, 1943 (in a stretch when he hit three three-run pinch-hit homers in four at-bats).
- Participated in 12 All-Star Games for AL, six as a player.
Johnny Pesky – #6
- Signed by the Red Sox in 1940.
- Officially associated with the Red Sox for 21 years as a player, coach, and manager.
- Compiled .307 average in 12 MLB seasons.
- Known as “Mr. Red Sox”.
Carl Yastrzemski – #8
- Named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
- Along with Johnny Bench became the 18th and 19th players elected to Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
- Received 95 percent of Hall of Fame voting, the seventh highest in the history of voting at that time.
- First Little League player to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
- Won AL Triple Crown in 1967.
- Most games lifetime in the AL with 3,308.
- AL MVP in 1967.
- Seven-time Gold Glove winner.
- Tied MLB record with 1.000 fielding percentage in 1977.
- Selected Outstanding Player of 1970 All-Star Game.
- Played 167 consecutive errorless games.
- Only AL player with 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Ted Williams – #9
- Named to starting outfield of Greatest Living Team, 1969.
- Named MLB Player of Decade for 1950s.
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.
- AL MVP in 1946, 49.
- Won AL Triple Crown in 1942, 47.
- Led AL in batting six times.
- Led AL in home runs four times.
- Led AL in total bases five times.
- Led AL in walks eight times.
- Led AL in slugging percentage nine times.
- Holds MLB record for most successive times reaching base safely, 16, in Sept. 1957 (2 singles, 4 HR, 9 BB, 1 HBP).
- Oldest MLB player to win batting title, batting .388 in 1957 at age 39.
- Won batting title again in 1958 at age 40.
- Voted Greatest Red Sox Player of all time by fans, 1969 and 1982.
- Holds MLB rookie records for most walks (107) and RBIs (145).
- Holds Red Sox record with 17 grand slams.
- Debuted August 19, 1974.
- Named AL Silver Slugger in 1984 and 1985.
- Named AL MVP in 1978.
- Named to eight All-Star teams.
- Led AL with hits (213) in 1978.
- Led AL in home runs in 1977 (39), 1978 (46), and 1983 (39).
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Carlton Fisk – #27
- Carlton Fisk will always be remembered as the player who hit the historic, 12th-inning, game-winning homer in Fenway Park off Reds pitcher Pat Darcy in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Besides being the hero on MLB’s biggest stage in a game that has been referred to as “the greatest World Series game ever played,” Fisk had many other memorable highlights during his 11-year career as a member of the Red Sox.
- Red Sox first draft choice and fourth overall selection in the January 1967 Winter Baseball Amateur Draft.
- Made his MLB debut on September 18, 1969.
- Was the first unanimous winner of the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1972 (.293, 22 HR, 61 RBIs). He was also tied for the AL lead with nine triples.
- Won the 1972 AL Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence.
- Seven-time All-Star, including four games started. He was voted as a starter five times but was replaced in 1974 due to a knee injury.
- Was the AL Honorary All-Star Game captain on July 13, 1999 at Fenway Park.
- Is the all-time Red Sox leader in games caught with 990.
- Red Sox Hall of Fame Inductee on September 8, 1997.
Now obviously, Johnny Pesky is the only member of Retired Row who is not a member of the Hall but was retired due to his decades of service to the Olde Towne Team… and rightfully so, however that does leave the ‘door open’ so to speak for other players and a whole sh!tload of “Why not him..”, “He should be..” so on and so forth. And with a few of the omitted Hall of Famer’s not on Retired Row, they may just have a case…. but I’ve covered this very argument in earlier editions of this same blog and this particular entry is not for that reason….
So let’s recap. The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. The All-Time Red Sox leaders in statistics. The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retired Row.
The basics are set.
Ted and Yaz were the only real givens.
Now we get to the difficult part. Who gets added to the list and where do they get placed? Should it be a ‘Top 5’ or a ‘Top 10’? Aside from a minimum number of at bats or appearances, what qualifications should allow for a player to be named ‘Top’ or ‘Best of’ for the Red Sox? Championships are certainly out the door otherwise we’d have to disqualify one of the Greatest Players to Never Win a Title in Williams, and that renders pennants useless as well. If we go just on statistics, it may give an advantage to players who climbed the numbers ladder due to longevity and not superb ability.. but if they didn’t have the ability, one would think they never would have had the longevity.
Rice. Clemens. Evans. The Million Dollar Outfield of Speaker, Hooper and Lewis. Ortiz. Ruth. Vaughn. The Teammates of DiMaggio, Pesky and Doerr. Lynn. Pedroia. Collins. Schilling. Young. Foxx. Tiant. Garciaparra. Varitek. Boggs. Wakefield. Cronin. Grove. Youkilis. Fisk… to name a few.
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: 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:
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
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
Manny Ramirez 868 Wade Boggs 1625
Jimmie Foxx 788 Rico Petrocelli 1553
Rico Petrocelli 773 Jason Varitek* 1520
Mo Vaughn 752 Dom DiMaggio 1399
1. C. Yastrzemski 646 Harry Hooper 130
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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.
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…
|Home Run Champions|
|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…
|Triple Crown: Pitching|
|Year||Player||Wins, ERA, Ks|
|1999||Pedro Martinez||23, 2.07, 313|
|1901||Cy Young||33, 1.62, 158|
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…
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.
Going back to my post on ‘Retired Numbers’ I wanted to expand upon my thoughts a little further. This is a short list of players and their uniform numbers who should, in my opinion (and maybe in a few of yours as well) be honored (not retired) by the Red Sox. Yes, most are members of Red Sox Hall of Fame, but having something more publicly displayed (aside from the red and blue banners on the Right Field/3rd Base exterior) for people in the stands and folks in the viewing audience certainly couldn’t hurt. After all, in such a historic venue as Fenway Park with such a history laden team as the Boston Americans not everything in view needs to be an advertisement.
For players whose numbers are being honored, place their number in road uniform coordinated navy blue and gray as opposed to the retired number coordination of the home red and white. Equally coordinated would be the player’s name, in road font, above the number but equally placed on the border of the gray circle. Should be fairly simple, right?
For players who didn’t wear a number and are being honored, find an equally coordinated way to either place their name in the gray circle or maybe just place them on a higher section of the wall displaying the honored numbers (I recommend the right field bleachers). They do something similar at Comerica Park in Detroit.
I know there will be at least one controversial pick….
James “Jimmie” Foxx, was the second major league player to hit 500 career home runs, after Babe Ruth. Attaining that plateau at age 32 years 336 days, he held the record for youngest to reach 500 for sixty-eight years, until superseded by Alex Rodriguez in 2007. His three career Most Valuable Player awards are tied for second all-time. ‘Double X’ played six years for Boston, including a spectacular 1938 season in which he hit 50 home runs, drove in 175 runs, batted .349, won his third MVP award, and again narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown. Foxx is one of nine players to have won three MVPs; only Barry Bonds (7) has more. On June 16, 1938, he set an American League record when he walked six times in a game. In 1939 he hit .360, his second-best all-time season batting average. His 50 home runs would remain the single-season record for the Red Sox until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006. Jersey #3
Nomar Garciaparra is a six-time All-Star (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006). Garciaparra was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 5th round of the 1991 draft, but did not sign. Garciaparra was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1994 following a successful career at Georgia Tech. He played in the Red Sox minor league system for three years (1994–Sarasota, 1995–Trenton, 1996–Pawtucket). He made his Major League debut on August 31, 1996, as a defensive replacement against Oakland. His first Major League hit was a home run off of Oakland pitcher John Wasdin on September 1. Nomar would then ultimately take Wasdin deep a record thirteen times over his career. Garciaparra is known for his idiosyncratic tics when batting. This habit includes an elaborate routine of glove adjustments and alternating toe taps on the ground prior to an ensuing pitch. At the time, Boston’s starting shortstop was John Valentin, who finished ninth in MVP voting in 1995. By late 1996, Nomar won the job. Garciaparra’s talent was enough to displace Valentin, who was moved to second base (then third base) to make room for young Garciaparra, who batted .241 with 4 home runs, 16 RBI, and 5 stolen bases in his initial stint with the club near the end of 1996. As a rookie in 1997, he hit 30 home runs and drove in 98 runs, setting a new MLB record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter and most homers by a rookie shortstop. His 30-game hitting streak set an A.L. rookie record. He was named Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote, competed in the Home Run Derby, and finished eighth in MVP voting. He also won the immediate admiration of Red Sox fans, who referred to him in Boston accents as “NO-mah!”. His popularity in New England was reflected in the Saturday Night Live “The Boston Teens” sketches, where Jimmy Fallon’s character Pat Sullivan always wore a Garciaparra T-shirt and would repeatedly reference his admiration for him. Garciaparra even appeared in one of the sketches, where he was introduced as the boyfriend of Sully’s sister (played by guest host Kate Hudson). He finished with 35 home runs and 122 RBI in 1998, and placed as the runner-up for AL MVP. Garciaparra then led the American League in batting average for the next two years, hitting .357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000, finishing in the top ten in MVP voting both years. He is one of the few right-handed batters to win consecutive batting titles, and the first since Joe DiMaggio. He hit safely and scored a run in the first five games of his post-season career (1998–99), and is joined by Ian Kinsler (2010) as the only other player to start his post-season career in that manner.
In February of 2001, Garciaparra appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with the headline “A Cut Above… baseball’s toughest out”. The week after the issue hit newsstands, Garciaparra suffered a broken right wrist that would ruin his season and alter the trajectory of his career. He recovered by the start of the 2002 season and drove in 120 runs while hitting a league-leading 56 doubles. However, he had a difficult time playing as strongly defensively as before, and his batting average dipped substantially, though it was still an excellent .310. Before the 2002 season, a new ownership group purchased the Red Sox. The baseball operations staff, led by Theo Epstein, stressed on-base percentage on offense and strong defense, two areas where Garciaparra was about to decline precipitously from his pre-2001 levels. Still, Garciaparra recovered from an injury-filled 2001 season to bat .310 with 24 home runs and 120 RBIs in 2002. The star shortstop was up for a contract extension following the 2004 season and hoped for a deal before that deadline. Still considered one of the best shortstops in baseball, he hoped to receive salaries similar to peers Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. In 2003, Garciaparra had a good season in which he was second in the majors in triples, fifth in the AL in hits, and second in the AL in runs scored. Unfortunately, a September slump caused his batting average to dip, but it still ended at a very good .301. He followed that with a poor post-season, contributing zero home runs, one RBI and ten strikeouts in 12 games against the Oakland Athletics and rival Yankees, who eliminated the Red Sox in a thrilling seven-game series. Meanwhile, new stars and cult heroes, led by David Ortiz and Kevin Millar, began to emerge in Boston. Millar convinced nearly every player on the roster other than Johnny Damon and Garciaparra (whose wedding with Mia Hamm followed the season) to shave his head.
After the 2003 season, Red Sox management explored trading Manny Ramírez to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. However, the MLB Players’ Union objected to Rodriguez’s willingness to sacrifice a huge amount of his $250 million contract to facilitate a deal to Boston, and the New York Yankees then struck a deal with Texas to bring A-Rod (who gave up $14 million with union approval) to their team. The Red Sox then had covert trade talks involving Nomar with the Chicago White Sox, but the subsequent agreement to trade Garciapara and others for a package centered around Magglio Ordóñez quickly became public. Garciaparra thus returned to Boston for the start of the 2004 season in the final year of a contract signed in 1997, and it quickly became clear that he was enraged with the team and would not return to Boston after the season. On July 31, 2004 (the MLB trading deadline), Garciaparra was the key player involved in a four-team deal that sent Nomar and Matt Murton to the wild card leading Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox received Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. Nomar expressed his appreciation to Red Sox fans in a speech to the media, and left for the Windy City. At first, Garciaparra was assigned jersey number 8, because Cub catcher Michael Barrett wore number 5. A few days later, they switched numbers. On March 10, 2010, Garciaparra signed a one-day contract with the Boston Red Sox to retire as a member of the organization. On May 5, 2010, The Red Sox hosted “Nomar Garciaparra Night”, honoring Nomar before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was given two official seats from Fenway by Johnny Pesky, one bearing Nomar’s own #5, and the other bearing Pesky’s #6.
Dominic DiMaggio, nicknamed “The Little Professor”, played his entire 11-year baseball career for the Boston Red Sox (1940–1953). He was the youngest of three brothers who each became major league center fielders, the others being Joe and Vince. An effective leadoff hitter, he batted .300 four times and led the American League in runs twice and in triples and stolen bases once each. He also led the AL in assists three times and in putouts and double plays twice each; he tied a league record by recording 400 putouts four times, and his 1948 totals of 503 putouts and 526 total chances stood as AL records for nearly thirty years. His 1338 games in center field ranked eighth in AL history when he retired. His 34-game hitting streak in 1949 remains a Boston club record. 7× All-Star selection (1941, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952) Jersey #7
Roger Clemens nicknamed “Rocket”, broke into the league with the Boston Red Sox whose pitching staff he would help anchor for 12 years. Clemens was drafted 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox in 1983 and quickly rose through the minor league system, making his major league debut on May 15, 1984. In 1986, his 24 wins helped guide the Sox to a World Series berth and earned Clemens the American League MVP award for the regular season. He also won the first of his seven Cy Young Awards. Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron angered the pitcher by saying that pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP. “I wish he were still playing,” Clemens responded. “I’d probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was.” Clemens remains the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue in 1971 to win a league MVP award. On April 29, 1986, Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game, against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. Only Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson have matched the total. Clemens attributes his switch from what he calls a “thrower” to a “pitcher” to the partial season Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver spent with the Red Sox in 1986. Clemens accomplished the 20-strikeout feat twice, the only player ever to do so. The second performance came more than 10 years later, on September 18, 1996 against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Clemens’ second 20-K day occurred in his third-to-last regular season game as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Clemens recorded 192 wins for the Red Sox, tied with Cy Young for the franchise record.
No Red Sox player has worn his #21 since Clemens left the team in 1996.
Luis Tiant. The Braves signed him to a minor league contract to play with their Triple-A Richmond, where he pitched well, and was acquired by the Louisville Colonels, a farm team of the Boston Red Sox. He was quickly called back up to the majors, and despite struggling through 1971 with a 1-7 record and 4.88 ERA, he would soon become one of the greatest and most beloved pitchers in Red Sox history and a great idol in Boston. Starting to be 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. 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. Tiant went 21-12 in 1976, 12-8 in 1977, and 13-8 in 1978. Tiant is only 1 of 5 pitchers to have pitched four or more straight 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. Jersey # 23
Dwight Evans nicknamed “Dewey”, started his career by winning International League MVP honors, but in his early major league career, he was primarily a defensive standout with a modest bat. In the second half of his career, he became a powerful batter. Evans made his Major League Baseball debut for the Boston Red Sox on September 16, 1972 in a game against the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox won 10-0 behind the pitching of Luis Tiant who threw a 3-hit complete game. Evans pinch ran for Reggie Smith in the 6th but was stranded at 2B, he played in right field where he recorded 1 PO. Evans went 0-1 at the plate in his debut. Evans played in 18 games in 1972 for the Red Sox, and had 57 plate appearances (.263 BA, 15 H, 2 R, 6 RBI, 1 HR). Despite the strike-shortened 1981 season, Evans had his best all-around year. He paced the league in total bases (215), OPS (.937), walks (85), times on base (208), and tied Eddie Murray, Tony Armas and Bobby Grich for the home run title with 22. He also ranked second in runs scored (84) and on-base percentage (.415), and third in slugging percentage (.522). He added a .296 batting average with 71 runs batted in. In 1987, at age 35, Evans recorded career highs in batting average (.305), HRs (34) and RBI (123).
Evans was named an Outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star team in 1982, 1984 and 1987 and was also tabbed as an Outfielder on the AL Silver Slugger Team by The Sporting News in 1981 and 1987. Evans would win the Gold Glove award in 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. In his 20-year career, Evans batted .272, with 385 home runs, 1384 RBI, 1470 runs, 2446 hits, 483 doubles, 73 triples, and 78 stolen bases in 2606 games. Only Carl Yastrzemski (3308) played more games for the Red Sox than Evans (2505). From 1980 through 1989, Evans hit more home runs (256) than any other player in the American League. He also led the A.L. in extra base hits over the same period of time. He is the only player to hit 20 or more home runs during every season of the 80’s (1980–1989). Evans hit a home run four times on Opening Day. On April 7, 1986, he set a major league record by hitting the first pitch of the season for a home run, eclipsing the mark held by the Chicago Cubs’ Bump Wills, who hit the second pitch for a home run on April 4, 1982. He spent his final season with the Orioles, batting .270 with six homers and drove in 38 runs in 101 games. In 2000, Dwight Evans was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Originally Evans was assigned the uniform number 40 but quietly he wanted to wear number 24, the number of his idol Willie Mays. In 1973 Sox gave him number 24, the number he wore for the rest of his career in Boston and one year with Baltimore. Other Red Sox players to wear the same jersey number since Evans retired include Kevin Mitchell, Mike Stanley, Manny Ramírez, and Takashi Saito.
Wade Boggs hitting in the 1980s and 1990s made him a perennial contender for American League batting titles. Boggs was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. With 12 straight All-Star appearances, Boggs is third only to Brooks Robinson and George Brett in number of consecutive appearances as a third baseman. His finest season was 1987, when he set career highs in home runs (24), RBI (89), and slugging percentage (.588). He also batted .363 and had a .461 on-base percentage that year, leading the league in both statistics. In 1999, he ranked number 95 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. A left-handed hitter, Boggs won five batting titles starting in 1983. He also batted .349 in his rookie year which would have won the batting title, but was 121 plate appearances short of the required minimum of 502. From 1982 to 1988, Boggs hit below .349 only once, hitting .325 in 1984. From 1983 to 1989, Boggs rattled off seven consecutive seasons in which he collected 200 or more hits, an American League record for consecutive 200-hit seasons that was later matched and surpassed by Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki. Boggs also had six seasons with 200 or more hits, 100+ runs and 40+ doubles. Although he would not win another batting title after 1988 (his batting title that year broke Bill Madlock’s Major League record of four by a third baseman), he regularly appeared among the league leaders in hitting.
In 1986, Boggs made it to the World Series with the Red Sox, but they lost to the New York Mets in seven games. The photo of him fighting back tears, taken by George Kalinsky, photographer for the Mets, emblemized the emotions of many Red Sox fans after their team’s loss at Shea Stadium. Jersey # 26
George Herman Ruth, Jr., best known as “Babe” Ruth and nicknamed “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat“, originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder and subsequently became one of the league’s most prolific hitters. After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ruth appeared in five games for the Red Sox in 1914, pitching in four of them. He picked up the victory in his major league debut on July 11. The Red Sox had many star players in 1914, so Ruth was soon optioned to the minor league Providence Grays of Providence, Rhode Island for most of the remaining season. Behind Ruth and Carl Mays, the Grays won the International League pennant. During spring training in 1915, Ruth secured a spot in the Red Sox starting rotation. He joined a pitching staff that included Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Smokey Joe Wood. Ruth won 18 games, lost eight, and helped himself by hitting .315. He also hit his first four home runs. The Red Sox won 101 games that year on their way to a victory in the World Series. Ruth did not pitch in the series, and grounded out in his only at-bat. In 1916, after a slightly shaky spring, he went 23–12, with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts, both of which led the league. On June 27, he struck out ten Philadelphia A’s, a career high. On July 11, he started both games of a doubleheader, but the feat was not what it seemed; he only pitched one-third of an inning in the opener because the scheduled starter, Foster, had trouble getting loose. Ruth then pitched a complete-game victory in the nightcap. Ruth had unusual success against Washington Senators star pitcher Walter Johnson, beating him four times in 1916 alone, by scores of 5–1, 1–0, 1–0 in 13 innings, and 2–1. Johnson finally outlasted Ruth for an extra-inning 4–3 victory on September 12; in the years to come, Ruth would hit ten home runs off Johnson, including the only two Johnson would allow in 1918–1919. Ruth’s nine shutouts in 1916 set an AL record for left-handers which would remain unmatched until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978. Despite a weak offense, hurt by the sale of Tris Speaker to the Indians, the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They defeated the Brooklyn Robins four games to one. This time Ruth made a major contribution, pitching a 14-inning complete-game victory in Game Two.
In the years 1915–1917, Ruth had been used in just 44 games in which he had not pitched. After the 1917 season, in which he hit .325, albeit with limited at bats, teammate Harry Hooper suggested that Ruth might be more valuable in the lineup as an everyday player. In 1918, he began playing in the outfield more and pitching less, making 75 hitting-only appearances. Former teammate Tris Speaker speculated that the move would shorten Ruth’s career, though Ruth himself wanted to hit more and pitch less. In 1918, Ruth batted .300 and led the A.L. in home runs with eleven despite having only 317 at-bats, well below the total for an everyday player. During the 1919 season, Ruth pitched in only 17 of his 130 games. He also set his first single-season home run record that year with 29 (passing Ned Williamson’s 27 in 1884), including a game-winning homer on a September “Babe Ruth Day” promotion. It was Babe Ruth’s last season with the Red Sox.
Denton True “Cy” Young, joined the American League’s Boston Americans in 1901 for a $3,500 contract ($92,092 in current dollar terms). Young would remain with the Boston team until 1909. In his first year in the American League, Young was dominant. Young led the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA, thus earning the colloquial AL Triple Crown for pitchers. Young won almost 42% of his team’s games in 1901, accounting for 33 of his team’s 79 wins. In February 1902, before the start of the baseball season, Young served as a pitching coach at Harvard University. The sixth-grade graduate instructing Harvard students delighted Boston newspapers. The Boston Americans played the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first modern World Series in 1903. Young, who started Game One against the visiting Pirates, thus threw the first pitch in modern World Series history. The Pirates scored four runs in that first inning, and Young lost the game. Young performed better in subsequent games, winning his next two starts. He also drove in three runs in Game Five. Young finished the series with a 2–1 record and a 1.85 ERA in four appearances, and Boston defeated Pittsburgh, five games to three games.
After one-hitting Boston on May 2, 1904, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Rube Waddell taunted Young to face him so that he could repeat his performance against Boston’s ace. Three days later, Young pitched a perfect game against Waddell and the Athletics. It was the first perfect game in American League history. Waddell was the 27th and last batter, and when he flied out, Young shouted, “How do you like that, you hayseed?” Waddell had picked an inauspicious time to issue his challenge. Young’s perfect game was the centerpiece of a pitching streak. Young set major league records for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched and the most consecutive innings without allowing a hit; the latter record still stands at 24.1 innings, or 73 hitless batters. Even after allowing a hit, Young’s scoreless streak reached a then-record 45 shutout innings. Before Young, only two pitchers had thrown perfect games. Young’s perfect game was the first under the modern rules established in 1893. One year later, on July 4, 1905, Rube Waddell beat Young and the Americans, 4–2, in a 20-inning matchup. Young pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings before he gave up a pair of unearned runs in the final inning. Young did not walk a batter and was later quoted: “For my part, I think it was the greatest game of ball I ever took part in.” In 1907, Young and Waddell faced off in a scoreless 13-inning tie. In 1908, Young pitched the third no-hitter of his career. Three months past his 41st birthday, Cy Young was the oldest pitcher to record a no-hitter, a record which would stand 82 years until 43-year-old Nolan Ryan surpassed the feat. Only a walk kept Young from his second perfect game. After that runner was caught stealing, no other batter reached base. At this time, Young was the second-oldest player in either league. In another game one month before his no-hitter, he allowed just one single while facing 28 batters. On August 13, 1908, the league celebrated “Cy Young Day.” No American League games were played on that day, and a group of All-Stars from the league’s other teams gathered in Boston to play against Young and the Red Sox.
In 1956, about one year after Young’s death, the Cy Young Award was created. Originally, it was a single award covering the whole of baseball. The honor was divided into two Cy Young Awards in 1967, one for each league.
On September 23, 1993, a statue dedicated to him was unveiled by Northeastern University on the site of the Red Sox’s original stadium, the Huntington Avenue Grounds. It was there that Young had pitched the first game of the 1903 World Series, as well as the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball. A home plate-shaped plaque next to the statue reads:
“On October 1, 1903 the first modern World Series between the American League champion Boston Pilgrims (later known as the Red Sox) and the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates was played on this site. General admission tickets were fifty cents. The Pilgrims, led by twenty-eight game winner Cy Young, trailed the series three games to one but then swept four consecutive victories to win the championship five games to three.”