Wednesday, March 7, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #44 Tex Hughson

Tex Hughson, P, #21 (1941-1949)

96 W - 54 L, 17 Saves, 225 G, 99 CG, 693 K, 2.94 ERA, All-Star (1942-1944)

He was a tall, lanky righthander from the state of Texas. He wore number 21, like another tall Texan would also at Fenway four decades later. Cecil Carlton Hughson first arrived at Fenway Park in April of 1941. He was a power/control pitcher who went to the University of Texas at Austin, and was known to all his friends in Boston as "Tex." He would have some sensational years for the Red Sox in the early-to-mid 1940s, and it looked like he would anchor the Red Sox staff for years to come and maybe was on his way to the Hall of Fame.

But fate would intervene.

Tex Hughson was born in Buda, Texas on February 9, 1916. He was the cousin of Jack Creel, who pitched briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1945. He was best known as a fearless competitor on the mound who was not adverse to throwing inside on hitters, mixing in a hard fastball and an overhand curveball. He would also at times mix in a knuckleball to his repetoire, and was known to throw maybe four or five in a game. He starred at the University of Texas at Austin, and first made it to the majors with the Red Sox at the start of the 1941 season.

The next season, Hughson led the American League in wins, posting a 22-6 record with a 2.59 ERA, and also leading the league in strikeouts (113), complete games (22), and innings pitched (281.0). It would be his finest year in the majors, and he finished sixth in the AL MVP voting. In 1943, he won 12 games with 114 strikeouts, a 2.64 ERA, and again led the league in complete games (20). He had an 18-5 mark in 1944, topping the league in winning percentage (.783) and also reached a career-best ERA of 2.26. He was selected to the AL All-Star team three straight years, from 1942-1944.

Hughson spent 1945 in military service, but when he returned for the 1946 season, he picked up from where he left off. Hughson won 20 games in 1946, led the league in fewest walks per nine innings (1.65), set a career high in strikeouts with 179, and completed 30 of 35 starts. He and Dave "Boo" Ferriss, who won 25 games, were a tremendous 1-2 starting combination in leading the Red Sox to their first American League championship in 28 years.

Hughson pitched in three World Series games against St. Louis that fall, with mixed results. He started very well in Game 1 and got a no-decision in a game the Sox won in extra innings, 3-2; he got hit hard and left in the third inning and got the loss in Game 4 as St. Louis won, 12-3; and he relieved in Game 6, in a game the Cardinals would tie the series (and go on and win the next day).

But throughout the height of his big league career, Tex Hughson pitched in pain. Finally by 1947, arm and shoulder problems caught up with him. He made just 26 starts that year, going 12-11 with a 3.33 ERA in 189 innings. In 1948, Hughson was limited to just 15 relief appearances, and the next season he would make just 2 starts in 29 appearances. He threw less than 100 innings combined those two years. After that 1949 season, he forced to retire at the age of 33.

In an eight-year career, Hughson posted a 96-54 record with 693 strikeouts and a 2.94 ERA in 1375.2 innings. His control was so good, and he recorded an effective 1.86 K-to-BB ratio (693-to-372).

After retiring from baseball in 1949, Hughson returned to his native Texas became a real estate developer. He lived in San Marcos until his death on August 6, 1993, from kidney failure, at the age of 77. He was survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

His career was one of those many "what could have been if he stayed healthy" stories. Tex Hughson may not have made it to baseball's Hall of Fame, but he was selected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.

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."

1 comment:

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