Marty Barrett, 2B, #17 (1982-1990)
929 G, 935 H, 17 HR, 311 RBI, .278 AVG, .338 OBP, .347 SLG
On June 23, 1981 Marty Barrett sprung into the Red Sox fan's consciousness as part of the the tag line of one of the most famous baseball games ever played - the 33 inning double marathon run by the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox. In the 33rd inning of a game featuring 2 Hall of Famers and a dozen future major leaguers of varying caliber it was Dave Koza knocking in Marty Barrett that salted the game away for the PawSox, with future Boston teammate and even futurer World Series opponent Bobby Ojeda getting the W.
And it encapsulated the rest of his career in a microcosm.
He batted second for all 8.5 hours, only went 2-13, didn't knock anyone in, and didn't make an error.
And at the end of the day? Hit by pitch, takes third on a single, and scores on the game winning hit by Koza.
The annoying pest who is in the middle of it all when it matters.
Martin Glenn Barrett was born on June 23, 1958 in Arcadia, California, and grew up in Las Vegas.
He attended Arizona State University despite having been drafted by the Angels in the 11th round in '77, the Mets in the third round in January 78, and the Red Sox in the first round of the secondary phase in June of '78, before finally signing with the Sox when they took him as the first overall pick... in the secondary phase of the January draft in '79... before MLB stopped the draft madness. (incidentally sharing a round with future Sox Otis Nixon, Scott Fletcher, and Gary Gaetti). He was signed by noted scout and legendary baseball procreator Ray Boone.
Looking at his career line above you are of course wondering why we care.
How does a career .286 hitter - a batter who only hit 18 homers... in his life; who never won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, or batting title; was never an All Star; was never for even a second the best second basemen in his league, never mind baseball - make it to the Outer Limits of the Inner Circle of All Time Red Sox?
Because that last bit is wrong. In October of 1986 he was the best second baseman on the planet, it was as though he'd turned into Frankie Frisch. He was everywhere, terrorizing the Angels and Mets with OPS' of .846 and 1.014.
And that's what we'll remember in the end. The 1986 postseason. We'll forget the brains, we'll forget that he never struck out, we'll forget his leading the league in sacrifices, we'll forget the hidden ball trick and that one 'hesitation' slide (find video of it - it's unreal). We'll overlook the look of annoyance on opponents faces upon finding an unselfish #2 hitter looking to move along Hall of Famer Wade Boggs when the braintrust was smart enough to lead Boggs off.
It'll be that one white hot moment where Marty Barrett made his bid to be a folk hero in the way we look at the kids from 2004. If only the 'good' players hitting behind him could have found a way to take advantage of the fact that he was on base almost every other at bat Bill Buckner could live somewhere other than Idaho, and Marty wouldn't have add a "but" to his greatest stretch in baseball.
Barrett's solid career ended abruptly after he twice injured his knee. Team owner/doctor Arthur Pappas kept giving him cortisone shots to keep him on the field rather than fixing it surgically, so not surprisingly they didn't get better. His range in the field shot, and Jody Reed not really being a good fit at short, the Sox released him following the 1990 season, ending the third longest reign at the second sack (behind B. Doerr and Turn of the Century keystoner Hobe Ferris) and the longest in the second half of the 20th century.
After an brief attempt to carry on outside the Fens with the Padres ended with John Kruk delivering the knockout blow to his knee, Barrett coached for a couple of seasons with his hometown Las Vegas Stars in the PCL before moving on to manage the Rancho Cucomunga Quakes.
Which he dropped like a shot when "I was going back to the airport with my youngest son. He had all my baseball cards out, and he was looking at them. I asked him why he was doing that, and he said `I look at the cards when I forget what your face looks like.' That killed me." (Baseball Digest, August 2002 )
So he returned home to dabble in real estate, play golf, and get more involved in his community. The Las Vegas North Little League bears his name and he has been peripherally involved in city politics.
So barring a run for mayor, with his final child set to graduate high school this summer we should be seeing a return of Marty Barrett to the managerial ranks, where he will be as successful as he has been at everything else.
In closing, it needs to be said that it's really too bad that Marty missed the blog era. What would the blog kids do with a player who hits a little like Mark Loretta, fields on a par with Alex Gonzalez (without the flash), had Varitek's smarts and Trot Nixon's engine?
Nothing but love.
Travis doesn't have a Sox blog of his own, but can often be found sharing his baseball opinions here, going by the name Frawst
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Marty Barrett, 2B, #17 (1982-1990)