Wednesday, June 6, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #32 Dick Radatz

Dick Radatz, RP/CL, #17 (1962-1966)

W-L 49-34, 288 G, 104 SV, 557 IP, 627 K, 2.65 ERA

Imagine a 6'6" tall wide-body throwing a 95-mph fastball at you from a low-sidearm delivery, and you have an idea of why Dick Radatz terrorized American League batters for several years in the 1960s. -Gabriel Schechter

Schechter wrote this in a piece for the Baseball Hall of Fame to honor the passing of Dick "The Monster" Radatz. He was truly an imposing figure on the mound, due both to excellent "stuff" and his physical presence. Radatz was such a bright star in the early 60s for the Red Sox that it seems only fitting that he owes the bookends of his career to two Red Sox legends.

Radatz was born in Detroit, MI, in 1937. He attended Michigan State University, and would begin his track towards Boston as an amateur free agent after graduation. After two seasons as a starting pitcher in the minors, Radatz would be shifted to the bullpen by his manager, Johnny Pesky, in Seattle of the Pacific Coast League. Pesky thought he could be more helpful to the big league club by pitching multiple days, rather than on a set rotation. It didn't hurt that Boston's current "closer", Mike Fornieles, "put up a Pineiro" in 1961 (15 SV, 4.68 ERA). Radatz would become a relief ace for the Red Sox in every sense of the word.

His rookie year, 1962, was by any measure a success. He saved 24 games, with an ERA+ of 184. He also averaged 2 IP per appearance, providing a high number of quality innings. Unfortunately, Radatz would finish in a three-way tie for the RoY (translation: dead last). This didn't stop him from putting together an even better season in 1963. He certainly got plenty of attention. His 1963 line: 191 ERA+, 15-6, 25 SV, 66 G, 132 IP and 162 K. He made such an impact on the upstart and highly-competitive seventh-place Red Sox that he was 5th in MVP balloting that season. Just let that sink in for a minute. An example from today's game would be if Octavio Dotel of the 2007 AL Central 5th place Royals managed to garner enough MVP support to finish 5th. The win total might've had something to do with it, and we certainly know more now about the possibility of RPs "vulturing" wins. Later on I'll discuss why this isn't neccessarily the case with Radatz. Schechter:

In 1963, his best season, he embarrassed the whole league, leading Yankees manager Ralph Houk to declare that "for two seasons, I've never seen a better pitcher."
Houk should've waited to make this declaration, as 1964 was simply another of the greatest seasons ever by a RP (Boston or elsewhere). He set the record for Ks as a RP with 181. If a team wanted to manipulate their pitching staff enough, this could be matched, but I think Radatz's record is safe. He managed this in 157 IP (all in relief, of course). He also made his second All-Star team (1963 as well).

1965 was a let-down for Radatz and Red Sox fans. The team finished 9th, lost 100 games, and Radatz came back to Earth. Some of this could be attributed to Ted Williams. In Spring Training before that season, Ted suggested to Radatz that he develop a sinker in order to better attack LHH. What is one to do when Ted Williams gives you advice? Take it and apply it. Radatz did, and while he felt he developed a pretty good sinker, he never regained his fastball. He had changed his mechanics too much to accomodate the sinker. Without his fastball, Radatz lost the extra in extraordinary. His K/9 dropped below 10 for the first time in his career, and his ability to strikeout hitters would never return to the levels he enjoyed at his peak. His Red Sox career ended when he was traded to the Indians in 1966 for a stamp collection.

While relatively long-lasting compared to others of this phenomenon, Radatz's career could still be described as flash-in-the-pan. He experienced 3 years of greatness, though the teams he toiled for left something to be desired. He was a strong reliever with the ability to throw a lot of innings. Over his 288 G in a Red Sox uniform: 53 G with 3+ IP, and 8 G with 6+ IP. With such lofty innings totals per game, it seems likely that Radatz earned rather than vultured all those relief wins.

"The Monster" would pitch for Cleveland, Chicago (N), his hometown Detroit, and Montreal before his career was finished.
Dick Radatz brings one weapon - a fastball. It's like saying all a country brings to a war is an atom bomb. -Jim Murray
There were many ways to describe the way Radatz simply demolished AL hitting from 1962-1964, and I think Murray captures it best.

Radatz died due to a head injury in a home accident on March 16, 2005.

Allen is a constant source of unoriginal content and excruciatingly lame puns. You can find him at Over The Monster.

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #33 Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling, SP, #38 (2004-current)

44 Wins - 21 Losses, 9 Saves, 524 IP, 473 Ks, 85 BBs, 3.97 ERA

With the exception of Barry Bonds there really isn't a baseball player active today with a more polarising effect on the public and indeed the sports media than Curt Schilling.

He is an unusual entity, a professional athlete who is more than happy to talk with the media, so much so that he runs his own blog. This 'ease' with which he approaches his media encounters leads some fans and professional writers to find fault in how Schilling runs his life, both on and off the field.

Strip all that away though, and what do you have? Schilling is a potential hall of fame candidate who has shone particularly bright in the postseason. After the regular season Schilling is 8-2 with a 2.06 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 109.1 Innings. Whatever about the scintillating statistics, Schillling is a two-time World Series winner and furthermore does incredible things in terms of his charity works outside the game.

All the childish barbs the Dan Shaughnessy's of this world throw at Schilling can't take his brilliant career away from him.

Born November 14, 1966, Curt Schilling is just the ninth Major League player to have hailed from Alaska. Curt spent his youth in Phoenix, Arizona and attended Shadow Mountain High School before attending Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. He was a winner at an early age, helping lead Yavapai College to the 1985 Junior College World Series. Amazingly, Schilling began his professional career in the Boston Red Sox farm system but was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1988 for Mike Boddicker. His major league debut was with the Orioles (1988-1990), he spent one year with the Houston Astros (1991), and then spent more than eight exciting seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1992-2000).

Schilling was one of the major factors in the Phillies' great pennant run in 1993. In that year, Schilling went 16-7 with a 4.02 ERA and 186 strikeouts. Schilling then led the Phillies to an upset against the two-time defending National League champion Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Schilling's 1.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts earned him the 1993 NLCS Most Valuable Player Award. The Phillies went on to lose to the defending World Champion Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. They slipped into relative mediocrity in the years after that, despite Schilling being the ace of the staff. Disappointed that the Phillies front office was not doing enough to field a competitive team Schilling eventually asked for a trade, and got his wish in 2000 when he was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Curt Schilling's amazing career took on greater impetus when he moved to Arizona. With the D-Backs, he went a spectacular 22-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2001 and went 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA in the playoffs. In the 2001 World Series the Diamondbacks won one of the most famous World Series final├ęs ever beating the New York Yankees in 7 games. Many say that game was the beginning of the end for that particular Yankee team. Schilling shared the 2001 World Series MVP Award star with teammate Randy Johnson. In 2002 Schilling went an excellent 23-7 with a 3.23 ERA. Both years he finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Johnson.

2003 was a rough year for the Boston Red Sox. Although the team made the playoffs, the traumatic loss to the Yankees in the ALCS combined with public displeasure with the bullpen led to Theo Epstein and the Sox front office determinedly attacking the free agent market in advance of the 2004 season. They signed Keith Foulke to be the teams closer and then made an even bigger splash in November 2003 by trading for Curt Schilling. Curt would join Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield to form on of the more eclectic and talented pitching rotations ever assembled.

Straight off the bat Schilling endeared himself to the Sox faithful by appearing in interviews wearing a 'Yankee hater' baseball cap and promising to lead his new team past their rivals from the Bronx. This was no idle promise coming from a man who had already vanquished the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

Schilling backed his promises up on the field, in style. For 2004, his first season with the Red Sox, Curt posted a sparkling 21-6 record, becoming the first Boston pitcher to win 20 or more games in his first season with the club since Dennis Eckersley in 1978.

The Sox super season looked in serious jeopardy during the ALCS against the Yankees. The Bronx bombers were 3-0 up and no Major League team had ever come back from such a deficit. That's when Kevin Millar made his infamous quote “Don’t Let Us Win Tonight”, referring to how the Red Sox had excellent starting pitching lined up for the next few nights. Sure enough, Boston started to crawl back into the ALCS on the back of great pitching and clutch hitting.

On October 19, 2004 Schilling won Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. Amazingly he won this game playing on an injured ankle, an injury so bad that by the end of his performance that day his white sock was soaked with blood.

This bloody sock would go on to become one of the most vivid symbols in recent baseball history.

That dramatic victory forced a Game 7, meaning the Red Sox were the first team in post-season Major League Baseball history to come back from a three-games-to-none deficit. The Red Sox would go on to win Game 7 of the ALCS and make their first World Series appearance since 1986. They had done it, they had come all the way back against their legendary rivals and now stood on the verge of their first World Series win since 1918.

Schilling pitched (and won) Game 2 of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals. He actually had to have the tendon in his right ankle stabilized but the tendon sheath was torn and, as in Game 6 of the ALCS, Schilling's sock was soaked with blood from the sutures used in this medical procedure. Schilling amazingly still managed to pitch seven strong innings, giving up one run on four hits, whilst striking out four. That was all Boston needed from him and they swept the hapless Cardinals in four games, bringing home the championship to Boston for the first time since 1918.

Schilling's place in baseball history was secured and his second bloody sock was placed in the Baseball Hall of Fame after the World Series. Schilling was once again runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2004, this time his Randy Johnson was Minnesota Twins hurler Johan Santana, who received all 28 first-place votes. Schilling received 27 of the 28 second-place votes.

The drama of 2004 came at a steep price. Schilling's ankle injury had an immense effect on his pitching performance in 2005. He began the year on the disabled list, and when he finally returned he did so to log an up and down season with constant questions being asked of his ability to overcome the injury. 2006 brought a welcome return to the Schilling of old, and Curt managed a tidy 15-7 record with 198 K's and a very respectable 3.97 era.

Schilling opened 2007 with the announcement that he will pitch in 2008. and he has managed to start the season in such a fashion that no one is accusing him of being distracted by contract talks. He has pitched, at times, as the Red Sox ace and figures to lead a potentially fantastic staff into the 2007 playoffs with the Sox currently holding a double digit lead over all rivals in the AL East.

Schilling is a fascinating character. A thoughtful, often eloquent man who is not afraid to speak his mind he draws a host of emotions from a wide variety of people. Two things though, stand out. Schilling's tireless work with the various charities he strives to improve has been a constant in his career. He clearly cares, deeply, about those charities.

Secondly, the man delivers on his promises. He promised Boston a return to former glory, and he has been a major part in delivering on said promise. He will always be a major part of the greatest Old Town team of all, the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bill Mueller Bio Completed

Along the way, a few bios were skipped until they were completed. Here's a link to John Quinn's biography of the #74 Greatest Red Sox, Bill Mueller.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #34 Mike Greenwell

Mike Greenwell, LF, #39 (1985-1996)

1269 G, 1400 H, 657 R, 575 2B, 130 HR, 726 RBI, 80 SB, .303 Avg, .366 OBP, .528 SLG, All-Star (1988-89)

His nickname during his playing days was "The Gator." It was said he got the nickname because he liked to wrestle alligators during the offseason in his native Florida.

But the Boston Red Sox fans at Fenway Park knew Mike Greenwell as a dependable left-handed hitter and leftfielder for a decade, from 1987-1996.

Michael Lewis Greenwell was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 18, 1963. He grew up in Florida and attended North Ft. Myers High School, which also produced football stars Jevon Kearse and Deion Sanders. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the third round of the 1982 Amateur Draft and signed with the club.

Greenwell was brought up from Pawtucket in September 1985, and made his debut as a pinch-runner for Jim Rice in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. That fall, the Red Sox were playing out the schedule and not in the pennant race, and Greenwell played in 17 games, went 10-for-31 and hit four homers and drove in eight runs.

Greenwell spent most of 1986 back at Pawtucket, as Rice was still the left-fielder. Greenwell hit 18 HRs and batted .300 at AAA. He was brought up again in August and saw action mostly as a pinch-hitter that year. But the Red Sox had a terrific team in '86, and Greenwell made the postseason roster. He played in both the ALCS and World Series, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He went 1-for-5 in that memorable postseason, but is best remembered for pinch-hitting for Roger Clemens in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the World Series. (This was the scenario that became controversial once the Series was over, as Clemens claimed he didn't want to come out, but manager John McNamara claims he did, because of a blister.) Greenwell struck out in that appearance.

1987 was a year to forget for the Red Sox and their fans, as the hangover from the 1986 World Series loss hung over the team all year, and they finished under .500. But it was a breakout year for Mike Greenwell. Jim Rice was moved to designated hitter and Greenwell was put in left field on a permanent basis. Greenwell responded with 19 HRs, 89 RBIs and a .328 batting average in 125 games. He finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year Award balloting (which was won by Mark McGwire).

1988 would prove to be Greenwell's best offensive season. He hit 22 HRs, 119 RBI and a .325 BA. He finished second behind Jose Canseco in the AL MVP Award voting (another loss to a "Bash Brother") and was a big part of the Red Sox comeback to winning the AL Eastern Division that season. Greenwell was also selected for the AL All-Star team for the first time, and hit for the cycle on September 14. He also won the Silver Slugger Award. But it was a disappointing postseason for the Sox and for Greenwell. They swept out of the ALCS by Canseco and the Oakland A's, and Greenwell hit .214 in that series with 1 HR and 3 RBI.

Greenwell would make the All-Star team again in 1989, hitting 14 HRs, 95 RBI and a BA of .308. He would have the longest hitting streak of his career that year, 21 games. His power numbers would continue to decline in 1990 and 1991, to 14 and 9, respectively. He also drove in just 73 and 83 runs, but his batting average was still around the .300 mark. Many of the Sox faithful thought Greenwell was a disappointment, as they thought he was next logical successor in that "golden position" of Red Sox leftfielder. He was a solid hitter, but not in the mold of the previous Red Sox leftfielders like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. Greenwell was like Yaz was early in his career, a line drive hitter who wasn't a big home run hitter, and who could pepper the left-field wall with doubles. Greenwell was also just an average outfielder at best, and wouldn't win any Gold Gloves in his career.

1992 was a year to forget for Greenwell, as he battled injuries that year and played in just 49 games and hit .233. His offensive numbers would continue to slide in his final four years with the Sox, although he had a nice bounceback year for the Red Sox in 1995, as they won the AL East that year. He hit 15 HRs, 76 RBIs and hit .297. But the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs for the third straight time, this time in the ALDS by Cleveland. Greenwell, who went 0-14 in the 1990 ALCS, went just 3-for-15 in the three-game sweep in '95.

Greenwell basically became a part-time player in 1996, hitting .295 in 77 games. He was a free agent after the season, and it looked like the Red Sox were going to let him go. But just before his Bosox career concluded, he had one final night of glory.

On September 2, 1996, in a game against the Mariners in Seattle, Greenwell drove in 9 runs, which was all of his team's runs, in a 9-8, 10-inning win at the Kingdome. It was a MLB record for most RBIs by one player driving in all of his team's runs. It was also a Red Sox record for one game, a record that still stands.

Greenwell's final game in a Red Sox uniform was overshadowed by what would be the last game by another Red Sox star player: Roger Clemens. As it would turn out, both Clemens and Greenwell would both depart Boston, and for teams based outside the United States: Clemens to Toronto, and Greenwell would head for Japan, to play for the Hansin Tigers.

It would be a disasterous move for Greenwell. It was a much-heralded transaction in Japan, but Greenwell would see action in just seven games, due to injuries. He would announce his retirement from baseball soon afterward.

He would turn his attention in his post-baseball career to another love of his: stock car racing. In May 2006, he made his Craftsman Truck Series debut at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway for Green Light Racing, starting 20th and finishing 26th. He also runs "Mike Greenwell's Family Fun Park" in Cape Coral, Florida, which includes a lot of activities like go-cart racing, miniature golf and batting cages. Greenwell is also a real-estate developer and an assistant baseball coach with Riverdale High School in Ft. Myers.

But Greenwell would get back in the sports headlines in 2005. When Jose Canseco released "Juiced," all about how his career was built on the use of illegal steroids, Greenwell went as far as demanding the he should be awarded the 1988 AL MVP Award away from Canseco.

He would tell the Ft. Myers News Press: "He's an admitted steroid user," Greenwell said of Canseco. "I was clean. If they're going to start putting asterisks by things, let's put one by the MVP. I do have a problem with losing the MVP to an admitted steroids user."

John Quinn is a writer who lives in New York City and runs the web site, "The Mighty Quinn Media Machine," and writes for the Red Sox fan site, Bornintoit.com, as "Brooklyn Sox Fan."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #35 Bill "Spaceman" Lee

Bill "Spaceman" Lee, SP, #37 (1969-1978)

94 W - 68 L, 321 G, 167 GS, 578 K, 3.64 ERA, All-Star (1973)

"You should enter a ballpark the way you enter a church." - Bill Lee

Author, Movie Star, Personality, Eccentric, Futurist, Intellectual, Political Activist, and (oh yeah) Professional Baseball Player. When you look back over the life and times of William Francis Lee III, it's easy to remember him more for his peripherals than his performance on the baseball field. But should you think that Bill "Spaceman" Lee was more personality than ball player, then you are sorely mistaken. For all his off-field activity, his performance on the field is just as memorable as every off color comment, socio-political rant, or autobiography. In fact, Bill Lee is one of the best left handed pitchers every to put on a Boston Red Sox uniform.

Bill Lee was born with baseball in his blood in Burbank, CA on December 28th, 1946. Both his father and grandfather played the game with a passion, but it was his aunt Annabelle Lee, whom Bill Lee would call the "best athlete in the family." Also left handed, Annabelle Lee was a star in the Women's Semi-Pro Hardball League in Chicago.

Bill Lee stayed in his home state to play college ball at the University of Southern California where his Trojans won the College World Series in 1968. Lee graduated after that season and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round of the 1968 Amateur Baseball Draft.

Upon finding out that his son had been drafted, William Lee Jr. gave Bill the following advice; "Son, you're joining the Boston Red Sox, a fine organization. Now if you can pitch like we both know you can and you can keep your mouth shut, you'll end up being with them for a very long time."

After spending only one year in the Red Sox minor league system, blowing through the Midwest League, Carolina League, and AA Pittsfield of the Eastern League where he went 6-2 with a 2.06 ERA to start the 1969 season, it was apparent that Bill had at least taken the first half of his father's advice.

On June 24th, 1969, Bill Lee was called up to the big leagues when Jim Longborg was hurt. According to Lee, the last thing that he was told after getting the call was not too pack to heavy a bag and not to expect to be up for too long. "Nine years and 102 days later, I was gone," Lee would quip in his autobiography The Wrong Stuff.

Lee didn't get off to the best start in Boston. His first appearance in the Major Leagues would come on June 25th in relief against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. He would go four innings giving up just one run and two hits while striking out five and walking three. Lee would end up the staying with the club the whole season in a relief role, going 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA with one start at the end of the season. Lee called his performance in his first season "really horseshit." Known primarily for his control and his breaking pitches, Lee found himself throwing alot of fastballs and not really getting into the groove with his breaking pitches with the adrenaline that would come working in short relief.

Lee would start the 1970 season with the Red Sox pitching in eleven games with five starts going 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA before he was called into the Army where he served as a reservist. Lee would call military life "interesting, a mixture of perfect logic with a huge helping of the absurd." Despite his eccentricity, Lee served his time in the Army without note and would return to the Red Sox in time to start the 1971 season.

Lee would begin to settle in as a reliever in Boston over the next two seasons pitching in 47 games each year going 9-2 with a 2.74 ERA in '71 and 7-4 with a 3.20 ERA in '72. Come 1973, Lee would break into the starting rotation where he excelled for three straight 17 win seasons. An All-Star in his first season as a starter in 1973, Lee would finish the season third in the AL in ERA (2.75).

In 1975 along with Louis Tiant and Rick Wise, Lee anchored the American League pennant winning Red Sox rotation. With the Red Sox up one game to none against the vaunted National League Champion Cincinnati Reds, Lee made his first postseason start going eight strong innings giving up only two runs on five hits before leaving with a 2-1 lead on the verge of putting the Red Sox two wins away from a World Series Championship. The Reds would go on to score two runs in the top of the ninth off Dick Drago to win the game and Lee's performance would go wasted. The series would continue with the Reds up 3-2 when Bernie Carbo and Carlton Fisk's dramatics in game six would tie the series and force a seventh game. Lee would be called on to pitch game seven of the 1975 World Series at Fenway Park. Lee would pitch 6 1/3 shut out innings with the Red Sox leading 3-0 before giving up a two run home run to Tony Perez off an ill-conceived "Leephus" pitch.. Lee would leave game seven up 3-2 only to watch the bullpen lose the second game that he had started that series.

Following three 17 win seasons, 1976 began a downturn in Lee's career, but not before one last bit of fireworks. Lee was involved in many moments in Red Sox history, but arguably the most famous one came in 1976 when he was forced to leave a game after hurting his shoulder in a bench clearing brawl with the New York Yankees. Lee would go 24-22 over his last three seasons with the Red Sox posting ERAs of 5.63, 4.43, and 3.46 before being traded to the Montreal Expos before the 1979 season for utility infielder Stan Papi. Lee who had previously railed against the organization for trading away teammates like Bernie Carbo shot his way out of town, hiding his disappointment, saying, ""Who wants to be with a team that will go down in history alongside the '64 Phillies and the '67 Arabs?"

Lee would finish his Red Sox career with the third most wins for a left handed Red Sox pitcher behind only Mel Parnell and Lefty Grove winning 94 games over his ten year Red Sox career.

Lee would pitch well in his first season in Montreal going 16-10 with a 3.04 ERA in 1979. He would leave baseball altogether in protest over the release of a teammate in 1982. Lee claims that he has been blackballed from baseball since his walkout.

Even if baseball had blackballed him, Lee's association with the game remains strong. Owner of The Old Bat Company in Vermont, Lee has penned multiple autobiograpical books and starred in a documentary film, "Spaceman in Cuba." The documentary called a Baseball Odyssey follows Bill Lee as he roams the world in search of opportunities to play the game that he loves focusing on his time in Cuba in 2003.

Even today at over 60 years old, Lee estimates he still throws 200 innings a year playing the game he loves in over-40 leagues in New England.

"I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out." - Bill Lee

This Top 100 Red Sox profile was written by Tim Daloisio, Editor and Chief Blogger of the Red Sox Times.

List Update; We're still here...

A quick admin post to give an update on the list and an explanation for the silence for the past few weeks. To tell the truth, we got off to a great start, but the 2-a-days were a bit much and it finally caught up to us.

Many of us got caught up in work, family, Spring Training, etc. But no worries, the list soldiers on.

I am working on an updated schedule scaling back to a player a day from here on out. To all of our tireless writers; thanks for all your hard work this far and we're going to see it through! Be on the lookout for an email from me shortly with the revised schedule.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #36 Bruce Hurst

Bruce Hurst, SP, #47 (1980-1988)

W-L 88-73, 237 G, 217 GS, 54 CG, 13 SHO, 4.23 ERA

"It hurts a lot more to lose than it feels good to win." - Bruce Hurst

Looking back through the numbers, nothing about Bruce Hurst stands out in particular. His 4.23 ERA over the course of his Sox career certainly seems pedestrian. He was, however, outstanding backup to ace Roger Clemens in the mid-80s, along with Oil Can and Al "Cheez" Nipper. Hurst was a crafty left-hander whose career in Boston was solid, and whose 1986 WS performance should have been legend.

Hurst spent 1980-81 mostly in Pawtucket, riding the Merloni express in 1980 and starting five games at the tail-end of 1981. While in Pawtucket, he pitched in the longest game in professional baseball history. Hurst was the 7th pitcher for the Paw Sox, and did his part to extend the game, throwing 5 scoreless innings.

He finally got a chance to stick with the big club in 1982, starting 19 games out of his total of 28. He had a poor ERA, probably somewhat due to his 1.718 WHIP. The Sox FO must have seen something, because he was allowed to continue after such a performance. (It would seem rash to judge such a pitcher at age 24.)

In 1983, Hurst would begin to show his consistent ability to be a league-average or better workhorse. 1983-85 were all seasons closely resembling the others. His ERA+ would hover right around 100, and a WHIP around 1.4. He would throw 200+ innings each season, while steadily increasing his Ks.

1986 would be the best season of Hurst's career, though he spent six weeks on the DL. He would post his lowest regular-season WHIP in a relevant league, win 13 games, while completing 11 of his 25 starts. He saved the best for the postseason. In the World Series, he won 2 of his 3 starts, and put the Sox in position to win the 3rd in game 7. Hurst would have been named WS MVP had the Sox been the victor. It was not to be. However, no less than Mets slugger and clean-image poster boy Darryl Strawberry would praise Hurst's performance in the Series:

"Clemens is tough, but he's no Hurst."
Indeed, Hurst would rise out of Clemens' shadow only to be foiled by an inability to replace Bill Buckner with Dave Stapleton. The champagne was on ice, the media was ready to cover Hurst in a suffocating manner, and the Sox brass was ready to receive their rings and kudos. Unfortunately for Hurst and the Sox, one ground ball and a giant heap of blame on one player would prevent the win.

1987 and 1988 were both successful seasons for Hurst. He would gain All-Star recognition in 1987, winning 9 games and pitching 139 innings before the break. In 1988, he would reach his career high win total of 18, and finish 5th in the Cy Young balloting. Such a win total and his 5th place non-award made him a hot commodity on the FA market. His Sox career would come to a close when he chose less money to pitch closer to his probably not polygamist roots in Utah.

Hurst would pitch five seasons in the fledgling semi-pro NL West before he retired as a Texas Ranger in 1994. He, however, was not done with baseball. He is now the pitching coach of the Chinese national team under manager Jim Lefebvre. He seems to relish the challenge and looks forward to competing in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.

Allen once ate a live snake, spine and all. Just kidding. Snakes don't have spines. Find out more at Over The Monster.