Jim Lonborg, SP, #16 (1965-1971)
68 W - 65 L, 3.94 ERA, 784 K, 1967 Cy Young Award Winner
James Reynold Lonborg (born April 16, 1942) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher who played with the Boston Red Sox (1965-71), Milwaukee Brewers (1972) and Philadelphia Phillies (1973-79).
Born in Santa Maria, California, Lonborg graduated from Stanford University. He signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1963 and it wasn't long before he made his debut with Boston in 1965. On May 10, 1965 at Fenway Park Jim got the start and pitched into the 9th inning before giving way to Dick Radatz who nailed down a 3-2 win for the rookie starter.
Jim Lonborg enjoyed seven seasons (1965-71) with the Sox, and is probably most noted for his magical 1967 season.
"No player in the history of the World Series, before or since, did what Jim Lonborg did in 1967, Lonborg still holds the record for the fewest hits given up in back-to-back starts, when he was simply brilliant in Games Two and Five in the great Series with the St. Louis Cardinals that year." - Boston Globe
Lonborg led the American League in 1967 with 22 wins, 39 starts and 246 strikeouts. That same year, he was named to the All Star Team and threw a complete game to clinch the pennant. He ensured the pennant by beating the Twins and Dean Chance on the last day of the season, the only time the Red Sox were in first place in a wild three-team race between the Red Sox, Tigers, and Twins. He also won the Cy Young award.
More than anything else, Lonborg led the Red Sox to their first trip to the World Series since 1946. In his first World Series start, Lonborg retired the first 19 batters he faced, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He beat the heavily favored Cardinals with a one-hitter 5-0 to knot the Series at one game each. He lost the perfect game when he walked Curt Flood with two out in the sixth on a 3-2 pitch, then lost the no-hitter when Julian Javier doubled with two out in the eighth. Lonborg then tossed a three-hit, 3-1 victory in Game Five to give Boston a 3-2 Series edge. A Roger Maris homer in the ninth spoiled the shutout and Lonborg's 17-inning scoreless skein.
By the seventh game and on only two days' rest, however, Lonborg finally gave out, losing a 7-2 decision to Bob Gibson, who won his third Series game.
How did Lonborg describe his incredible 76 season and equally splendid playoff run? He said, humbly;
"I remember feeling early on in that game that I was in what athletes describe as a zone''
After the dream season, Lonborg was sadly, largely ineffective, winning just 27 more games for the Red Sox in the next four years. On December 24, 1967 he suffered a terrific fall while skiing and injured his knee. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, 22–9 that great season, fell to 6–10 in 1968.
In 1971, Longborg was traded from the Red Sox along with Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Don Pavletich, and George Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse, Tommy Harper, and Pat Skrable.
He won 14 games after being traded to Milwaukee in 1972, then spent the remaining seven years of his career in Philadelphia. In 1974 he won 17 games, but the highlight of his season was a grand slam he hit on June 29 against Montreal, only his third career homer. He won 18 games in 1976 and went 11-4 in 1977 before eventually fading out two seasons later. He played his final Game on June 10th, 1979
In his 15-year career, Lonborg compiled a 157-137 record with 1475 strikeouts, a 3.86 ERA, 24 complete games, 15 shutouts, and 2464.1 innings in 425 games.
Jim Lonborg was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.
After his baseball career came to a close Jim took the unusual step of enrolling in and graduating from Tufts Dental School, and is now known as Dr. Lonborg and runs his own dentistry practice in Hanover, Massachusetts.
The 63-year-old Dr Lonborg resides in Scituate with his wife Rosemary. The two of them have six children, ranging in age from 23-35, and one grandchild, with another on the way.
This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Jim Lonborg, SP, #16 (1965-1971)
Dave Meadows 'Boo' Ferriss, SP, #33 (1945-1950)
65 W - 30 L, 3.64 ERA 144 G, 67 CG
Dave Meadows Ferriss was born December 5th in 1921. He came from a small town in the Mississippi Delta called Shaw. His childhood nickname 'Boo' came from his early inability to pronounce the word 'brother'.
Ferriss was the first baseball player ever to receive a full scholarship to Mississippi State University. He pitched there successfully on the 1941 and 1942 teams.
Dave's collegiate heroics caught the eye of the Red Sox front office and he was drafted in 1942. Obviously those were stormy times worldwide and before he had time to reach the major leagues Dave joined the armed forces to serve his country in World War Two. He served in the Army Air Forces for 26 months from 1942 to 1945 until he was discharged due to asthma.
After leaving the military Dave was sent to Sox minor league team in Louisville. After a very poor start by Boston that summer the Sox front office acted and Boo was called up. He made a stunning debut for the Sox on April 29, 1945, pitching a two-hitter. Ferriss was just 23 years old when he broke into the big leagues fresh out of the military, but for 1945 'Boo' Ferriss was the sensation of the American League. The 6'2" 208-lb rookie went 21-10 and defeated all seven opponent clubs the first time he faced them. He would then go on to set the major league record for scoreless innings to start a career, with an incredible 22 scoreless innings straight out of the gate.
Dave had plenty on his fastball but above all he was a smart pitcher.
"The main thing I learned about Ferris (sic) is contained in a remark made by an American League hitter. This hitter said: 'I know why I can't hit Ferris. He hides the ball behind his back and he uses his glove to shield the ball from the hitter. The glove screens the ball, and the hitter doesn't get a look at the ball at all, until it is almost on top of him.'" Author Bert Dunne in Play Ball! (1947)
For his rookie season Dave went a sensational 21-10. 1946 brought further glory. Supported by a powerful Red Sox lineup, he went 25-6, for a league-high .806 winning percentage, on the way to the 1946 pennant, and shut out St. Louis in World Series Game Three. Ferris started two games for the Sox in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning one of them, but the Sox lost the series 4-3, Ferris getting a no-decision in the deciding game.
Ferriss would hit too. A .250 lifetime hitter, he had 19 RBI in both 1945 and 1947, and was used 41 times as a lefthanded pinch hitter.
Sadly, while Dave's star shone bright, it had a relatively short lifespan in terms of years in the majors. His record in 1947 was an average 12-11. Arm troubles and asthma restricted him to 9 games started in 31 appearances in 1948. Dave's final Game was on April 18 and with that, by 1950, his playing career was over.
Ferriss was pitching coach for the Red Sox between 1955 and 1959, before becoming head coach of the Delta State University baseball programme. Author John Grisham once tried out for a spot on Ferriss' team at Delta State University. He was cut because he could not hit a curve ball. Ferriss guided Delta State to a 639-387 record and three appearances in the NCAA Division II College World Series, before retiring in 1988. He is a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame, and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. On November 14, 2002, he was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Billy Goodman, UT, #10 (1947-1957)
1177 G, 1344 H, 14 HR, 464 RBI, .306 AVG, .381 OBP, .387 SLG
Long before Ryan Freel and Chone Figgins made being a utility player cool, there was Billy Goodman, a man of many positions for the Sox during the post-war era. Here’s a quick trivia question for you. Who was the last player to lead the league in batting average while playing at least 20 games at 3 different positions? Yup, Billy Goodman did it when hit .354 in 1950 while playing 45 games in the outfield, 27 games at third, and 21 games at first (as well as 5 games at second and 1 at short). Goodman played in Boston for 9 full years, played five different positions, and he played them all well. As a member of the Red Sox he played 578 games at second, 393 at first, 102 in the outfield (left and right field), 50 at third, and 1 at short.
Goodman broke into the league in 1948 as the team’s regular firstbaseman and was part of a powerful Red Sox line up that scored 907 runs and finished in second place. Goodman hit .310 with a .414 OBP as a rookie although he hit just 1 HR. It was the first of many typical seasons for the utility player. He would hit .293 or better in his first 11 years in the majors (9 of them in Boston). He had absolutely no power (19 HR in 5644 major league AB’s and his career SLG of .378 was just .002 points better than his career OBP of .376), but was always able to work the count and managed to walk more than twice as many times as he struck out.
His tenure with the Red Sox ended in 1957. The team had a regular player at every position and with no place to use Goodman he had managed just 16 AB’s by June 14th when they traded him to Baltimore as part of a 7 player deal. He played in the majors for 5 more years until the age of 36.
The year of Goodman’s batting title, 1950, was also his best season as he set career highs in HR (4), RBI (68), AVG (.354), OBP (. 427), and SLG (.455). He scored 100 runs just once and his career high in steals was 8. He hit .306 as a member of the Red Sox, 11th all-time, and his .381 OBP is good enough for 14th all-time.
Goodman died from cancer at the age of 58 in Sarasota, FL in 1984.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Jerry Remy, 2B, #2 (1978-1984)
710 G, 802 H, 385 R, 2 HR, 211 RBI, 98 SB, .286 Avg, .336 OBP, .334 SLG
"I love baseball and I will always love it. My favorite time begins when the umpire says "play ball" and ends with the final out." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball
Before Jerry Remy became the cult figure we all know as the Rem Dawg, he was known to Red Sox fans as a hard-nosed, gritty second baseman who loved playing the game of baseball on the stage he had fallen in love with the game as a youngster, Fenway Park.
"I remember the first time I walked up the ramp inside Fenway Park and stepped out into the grandstand. The first thing I saw was the wall, a huge green thing. And then there was the beautiful green grass and the colors of the players' uniforms. I was stunned. I guess I still am." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball
Born November 8th, 1952 in Fall River, MA, Gerald Peter Remy grew up in the heart of Red Sox Nation just outside of Boston in Weston, MA where a young Remy was introduced to the game of baseball by his father and grandfather.
"Baseball is a part of the fabric of our lives. It's a love that is handed down from father to son, mother to daughter. " - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball
It's a good thing for the rest of Red Sox Nation that young Gerald took to baseball with a passion that is still evident in every NESN broadcast we hear.
Jerry Remy's baseball career started as far away from Fenway Park as baseball in America can take you, California. After being drafted in the 19th round of the 1970 amateur draft by the Washington Senators only to not sign, Remy was again selected in the 8th round of the 1971 draft by the California Angels.
Remy's minor league career was brief but successful. Before making the jump from double-A to the Major Leagues in 1975, Remy won a batting title for El Paso in the Texas League in 1974 hitting .338 before being called up to triple-A Salt Lake City. In forty-eight games in Salt Lake, Remy hit .292 where a gentleman, unbeknown to Remy as an Angels' bench coach told him, "If you come to spring training and play like you have been this year, you've got a good chance of making the team." And after spending the offseason in Mexico Remy did just that hitting .313 in the spring of 1975 not only making the team, but taking the starting second base job from veteran Denny Doyle.
Remy played for three seasons in California where in his third season at the ripe age of 24 years old he was named the team captain by Angels manager Norm Sherry. Remy would play 444 games in California hitting .258 with five of his seven career home runs, an on base percentage (.315) only four points higher than his slugging percentage (.319) and 110 stolen bases ranking him 9th on the Angels all time list.
Jerry Remy's first major league hit came on 4/7/1975 against the Kansas City Royals. And if you've heard Remy tell the story during broadcasts over the years, you know how the story ends; so excited with his achievement, Remy was promptly picked off base. Remy's time in California led to the distinction of being named #75 on the 100 Greatest Angels list compiled this year by Halo's Heaven before be traded back home to the Red Sox for pitcher Don Aase and cash.
Ironically enough, Remy's time in Boston started the same way it did in California; by replacing incumbent second baseman Denny Doyle.
"When I was traded to Boston, I was going to my home team, the club I grew up watching when I was a kid in Somerset, MA. The idea of playing at Fenway Park with guys I admired made it a nice trade for me." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball
In 1978, his first season in front of his home town fans, Remy had the best of his career batting .278, scoring 87 runs and stealing 30 bases. His performance earned him a spot on the 1978 American League All-Star team.
1978 also saw Remy's final two career home runs. The last of his seven career home runs came on August 20th. 1978 in Oakland against the Athletics. With two strikes, both pitcher Matt Keough and Remy thought that Remy had swung and missed one of Keough's patented spitballs. The umpire however called it a foul tip. An angry Keough threw the next pitch inside and Remy turned on it for a 3-run home run, the last of his career.
The '78 season would go down in Red Sox lore ending in the infamous "Bucky Dent" one game playoff against the Yankees on October 2nd. Remy would call it "one of the greatest games in the history of baseball." He would go on to say that it was a "perfect game, except we lost." Remy would go 2-4 with a double and a run scored. Both of Remy's hits that day would come off of Yankee closer Rich "Goose" Gossage.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, just moments after the anguish of Bucky Dent's three run home run to put the Yankees ahead 5-2, Remy lead off with a double and scored. The Red Sox would add another run to cut the Yankee lead to 1 run heading into the ninth. With Rick Burleson on first and one out in the ninth, Remy hit a line drive towards Lou Piniella in right field who had trouble finding the ball in the sun. Only a lucky stab by Piniella held Remy to a single instead of a game tying extra base hit or even, according to Peter Gammons, an improbable game winning walk off inside the park home run. The Red Sox would leave both runners on and lose a heart-breaker to the Yankes. Remy would reflect on that moment as "close as he would get to being in the World Series."
Coming off that dramatic loss in 1978 and an All-Star appearance, 1979 brought disappointment for Jerry Remy by way of a knee injury sustained sliding into home in a game against the New York Yankees. Remy would be limited to 80 games in '79 and his nagging knee injury would limit him to shortened seasons in both 1980 and '81 as well.
Even with Jerry Remy's frustrating seasons, they weren't without highlights. In 1981, in a 19 inning game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, Remy would pick up an American League and Boston team record six singles going 6-10. This record would be tied by Nomar Garciaparra in 2003 with Remy calling the game on NESN.
In 1982, Remy finished in the top ten in the American League in at bats, hits, and sacrifices. He would play well through pain through the 1984 season when his left knee caused him to retire. From the time of his injury on, Remy would have 10 separate knee operations to repair the damage in his knee.
Even with the limitations caused by his injury, Remy would hit .286 over 710 games in a red Sox uniform. He would end his Red Sox career with a higher on base percentage (.336) than slugging percentage (.334) with 98 stolen bases.
Remy's career would amass him multiple honors, including induction to the Red Sox Hall of Fame and being ranked the 100th best second baseman of all time by Bill James.
After his playing career, Remy never strayed far from the game that he loved. He spent one year in 1986 as a bench coach for the Red Sox double-A affiliate New Britain Red Sox in CT.
In 1988 Remy would start down the path that we all recognize him in today when he joind the New England Sports Network doing color commentary alongside Ned Martin for Red Sox cable TV. Remy would go on to team up with Sean McDonough, and currently Don Orsillo to bring fans Red Sox games for the next 19 years. Just as Remy excelled on the field, Remy has excelled in the booth, culminating in the magical World Series winning season in 2004 where Remy was awarded Massachusetts favorite TV announcer by Sports Illustrated and Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year as voted by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association as well as 4 Emmy Awards.
Jerry Remy has turned the local baseball market into the cult of the Rem Dawg. Whether it be his Hot Dog Stand on Yawkey Way or his website theremyreport.com, Remy is an integral part of the Red Sox experience.
"I may not have had the greatest stats. I may not have made the most money. But I can live with myself knowing that I had the opportunity to play on the big stage, and I did it as best as I possibly could every single day." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball
This Top 100 Red Sox profile was written by Tim Daloisio, Editor and Chief Blogger of the Red Sox Times.
Mike Timlin, RP, #50 (2003-Present)
24 Wins, 17 Losses, 25 SV, 3.52 ERA
In a game where complex statistical analysis is more at the forefront than ever, I’ll offer one piece of subjective, anecdotal evidence about Mike Timlin: more of my female friends and relatives have crushes on him than any other Red Sox player.
I think they like the way he stands on that mound, tall (6’ 4”) and strong, towing the rubber with an unflappable cool. They like the way he wears his red socks knee-high, and looks a lot like a player straight out of baseball’s World War II-era golden age, staring down batters with a steely-eyed scowl and a cheek full of chaw.
And they like the fact that if he enters a game in the seventh or eighth inning, he can usually be depended on to keep the score as-is. (Well, so long as the bases are empty.)
Michael August Timlin was born on March 10, 1966 in Midland, Texas. He attended Southwestern University in the Lone Star State. He began his career auspiciously in with six and a half seasons in Toronto, where he finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1991 and won back to back World Series in 1992 – where he recorded the final out – and 1993. Stints in Seattle, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, would follow.
Signed to the Red Sox by Theo Epstein in 2003, Timlin immediately gave the team what it needed: a rock-solid setup man who racked up innings like it was nothing at all. His lead-heavy sinker induced plenty of ground balls, and he was able to dial up that mid-90s fastball with pinpoint control. Even as the bullpen was in flux for much of the ’03 campaign with the ill-considered “closer by committee” fiasco, Timlin’s role in the late innings was a force for stability. Now, as he approaches his fifth year with the Red Sox, he’s become the dean of the Boston bullpen.
Timlin finished the 2003 season with a 6-4 record, with 2 saves and a 3.55 ERA in a team-high 72 appearances — the 3rd-most by a pitcher in his first season with the Red Sox. (Remarkably, in those 83.2 innings, Timlin gave up just nine walks, the best control of any relief pitcher in the majors.)
He was dominant, too, in that star-crossed postseason, giving up just a single hit in 9.2 innings spanning the ALDS against Oakland and the ALCS against New York. Alas, Grady Little could not recognize this, and instead crushed our dreams by leaving Pedro Martinez in too long that fateful October night. (Say it again: "Timlin in the eighth, Williamson in the ninth"!)
It was in 2004, that Timlin made history. His numbers were decent: 5-4, with one save and a 4.13 ERA — but it was the frequency with which he was called upon that was truly remarkable. He appeared in 76 games, the third most in Red Sox history, tying him for fourth in American League history. He also made his 800th career appearance in September, becoming only the 29th pitcher in major league history to reach that mark.
Timlin wasn’t nearly as effective in the 2004 playoffs. Appearing in 11 of 14 postseason games, he gave up eight runs in 11.2 innings. But he was good when it counted: he threw 1.2 scoreless innings in that marathon Gate 5 against the Yankees, and did the same in the clinching Game 7 in the Bronx. He had 6.00 ERA in three World Series appearances, but did pitch a perfect 8th inning in Game 3. As a reward, he got to be on the cover of Red and Denton’s Surviving Grady book.
In 2005, Timlin made more history, appearing in an astonishing 81 games — tops in the American League and a Red Sox record. In that span, he went 7-3 with 13 saves and a 2.24 ERA. He was by far the Sox’ most reliable reliever that season, serving as both set-up man and closer. He was especially strong early on, posting a 1.64 ERA in April, a 1.29 ERA in May, a 1.88 ERA in June, and a 0.71 ERA in July. He did not allow a run over 15 appearances (15.2 IP) between April 18 and May 20, and all season long, he surrendered just two home runs.
In the too-short 2005 postseason, Timlin pitched just one inning in the ALDS versus the White Sox (allowing a run on one hit) but the appearance, his 20th post-season outing as a Red Sox, established a club record. After the season, the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him the Red Sox’ Fireman of the Year.
In 2006, Timlin began to show his 40 years. An appearance in the inaugural World Baseball Classic before the season began took him out of his spring training rhythm, and he showed some ill effects early on. Even though he posted 0.90 ERA in 10 appearances in May, from May 26 to June 12 he was on the disabled list with shoulder issues. He finished the season with a 6-6 record, a 4.36 ERA, eight blown saves, and .305 batting average against.
Nonetheless, the team announced in October that Timlin had signed a $2.8 million deal to return for the 2007 season. It represented a pay cut from his 2006, salary, but was indicative of Timlin’s affection for Boston and the Red Sox — three times in the four years he’s been here, he’s opted not to become a free agent, instead just reupping for another year.
As I write this, Timlin has been shut down in spring training after experiencing tightness in his lower back. Nonetheless, he’s in the mix to be Boston’s closer for 2007 (he’s expressed great interest in the job) and is only 39 appearances away for a milestone career total of 1,000.
Biography written by Mike Miliard of the Phoenix's SoxBlog
John Valentin, SS/3B, #13 (1992-2002)
991 G, 1043 H, 121 HR, 528 RBI, .281 Avg, .358 OBP, .460 SLG
Ted Williams on Johnny Valentin: "That little guy at Third Base, I like him. He's good. I love him"
Before the 'Holy Trinity' (Jeter, Garciaparra and A-Rod) and subsequent statistical explosion, the Major League shortstop was known primarily as a glove man, someone who was going to scoop the ball up and chip in a few hits here and there. Two shortstops in particular came along in the nineties to break that mould, Cal Ripken Jr of the Orioles and John Valentin of the Boston Red Sox.
Born February 16th, 1967 in Mineola, New York, Valentin attended Seton Hall University. Valentin's college roomate and Seton Hall Pirates team mate was Mo Vaughn. Another team mate was Craig Biggio. They played together on Seton Hall’s 1987 Big East Championship team, which went 45-10.
There has actually been a book written about that Seton Hall Team. David Siroty penned The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth: Biggio, Valentin, Vaughn, and Robinson: Together Again in the Big Leagues.
Valentin started his professional career in the Red Sox minor league system in 1988. and made it to the Majors in 1992. He would go on to have an eleven year career, ten of those with the Boston Red Sox.
Valentin always had a nose for the dramatic. He is one of only 12 players in modern major league history to complete an unassisted triple play. Valentin completed the rare play on July 8th in 1994 in a loss to Seattle. In the 2nd inning. he caught a line drive off the bat of Marc Newfield, stepped on 2nd base to retire Mike Blowers, then tagged runner Keith Mitchell who was heading (slowly!) for 2nd. As is often the case in MLB, once a player makes a great play in the top of an inning he often follows it up with some good stick work in the bottom. Naturally Valentin hit a home run in the bottom of the second. To make the game more notable still, Seattle uber-prospect Alex Rodriguez, 18, was 0-for-3 in his ML debut that night.
Statistically John's best season came in 1995. He hit at an impressive .298 clip and added 27 home runs, 102 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Red Sox fans who are possibly new to the fold and know little about Valentin should take this one on board and chew it over. 'Val' was Boston's short stop the last time the Boston Red Sox won the American League East Division championship, in 1995.
Valentin simply had a spectacular 1995. On May 2nd in a 8-0 whitewash of the hated Yankees, Boston scored all eight runs in back to back innings by former college teammates (Seton Hall) Valentin and Mo Vaughn.That was the only time ever that two grand slams account for all the runs scored in a game (Source: SABR statistician David Vincent). That two former Seton Hall lads did it only makes it more unusual and indeed unique. On June 2nd of that shining season for him, Valentin and the Sox beat the Mariners 6-5 with 'Val' going 5-5 with three home runs and four runs scored. At the time he was the first shortstop ever to total 15 bases in one game. Again at the time he was the 8th Red Sox player to hit three home runs in a single game.
On September 29th The Sox slipped past the Brewers 11-9 and Valentin reached a personal landmark 102 runs batted in, becoming just the 4th Red Sox shortstop ever to drive in 100 runs in a season.
Furthermore, when Boston's big bats (Vaughn and Canseco) completely disappeared in the playoffs first round that season against the Indians, it was Valentin led the way, blasting a memorable two run bomb in the third inning of game one to get the Sox going. Sadly that would be one of the few highlights as the Sox went meekly into the night 0-3.
John was rewarded for his excellent 1995 season by being awarded Major League baseball's Silver Slugger Award. As a measure of the achievement, the same award, since '95, has been taken by either Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Miguel Tejada. That is a fine collection of slugging shortstops.
Valentin was by no means a fast man, but he was always an extremely clever base runner, and this was displayed physically in the tremendous amount of runs he managed to score, particularly between '95 and '98. In those four seasons he clocked up an incredible 400 runs scored.
Perhaps John's finest hour as a member of the Red Sox came in the form of the '99 playoffs. The Sox were up against the mighty Indians, the first team to score 1,000 runs in a season in nearly 50 years. The 'Tribe' looked like they were going to simply brush the Sox aside and took a 2-0 lead going into game three in Boston. Cometh the hour cometh the man and Valentin got to work. In the bottom of the sixth Val hit a lead off solo shot to put Boston ahead 3-2. After the Indians tied it Val came through again with a bases loaded double, putting the Sox ahead for good on the way to a dramatic 9-3 season saving win. What happened next was nothing short of historical as a suddenly reeling Cleveland side caved in and Boston won game four 23-7.
Valentin exploded in that game knocking in an incredible seven runs. No Red Sox fan will ever forget what happened in game five when Troy O'Leary went yard twice and Pedro came in from the bullpen to shut the door on the Indians, however none of that would have been possible without Valentin's heroics in games three and four in particular. In five games against the Indians John batted .318 with three home runs and a fantastic 12 runs batted in.
Perhaps the Sox gave too much in taking the ALDS against Cleveland as they went out in the ALCS against the Yankees, disappointingly losing 4-1. Valentin still gave Red Sox fans reason to smile in game three at Fenway. With the crowd already energised by Pedro mowing down the Yanks in the top of the first, Jose Offerman jolted them further with a lead off triple against former Sox great Roger Clemens. Up stepped Johnny Val and the roar could be heard in Mineola as he lifted a majestic two run blast over the Monster in left to give the Sox a 2-0 lead on route to a dramatic 13-1 win. Although the Sox were eventually knocked out, Valentin did all he could, reaching base ten times in the five games.
Sadly Valentin's career became plagued with injuries and in his last two seasons with the Red Sox Johnny Val only played 31 games before spending one more season with the New York Mets and then calling it a day. Since hanging up his cleats Val has worked as a part-time television analyst for the New England Sports Network and has branched out into the culinary world as owner of Julia's Restaurant in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He has also spent time working as a hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays AA affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Red Sox history is littered with shining stars who own often spectacular statistics. Although Valentin didn't have a 40 home run season or hit .400, he helped pave the way for a new breed of slugging shortstops and was a part of the gradual renaissance of the Boston Red Sox, which started in the nineties and culminated in '04. If anything Valentin should be remembered for his clutch hitting, particularly in the playoffs. In his time, when the bell rang, John Valentin always answered.
This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Ellis Burks, CF, #12, 25 (1987-1992, 2004)
733 G, 2827 AB, 791 H, 94 HR, 388 RBI, 95 SB, .280 AVG, .339 OBP, .455 SLG
I saw Ellis Burks’s last at-bat on September 23, 2004: a pinch-hit appearance at the bottom of the ninth inning of a losing effort against the Baltimore Orioles on a rain-sodden night at Fenway Park. He singled up the middle. And as a pinch runner jogged out to take his place at first, the few fans who remained in the wet seats cheered long and loud as Ellis Burks tipped his cap.
The Red Sox would go on to make some epochal history in that 2004 postseason, but Burks was not be on the roster. He understood that. I just like to think he was happy to finish his career in Boston — and to get to ride on a float down Boylston Street barely a month later.
He may have had a career year in home runs (40) with the Colorado Rockies. He may have matched a career best in batting average (.344) hitting behind Barry Bonds on the San Francisco Giants. But I always like to think of Ellis Burks as a Red Sox above all else — and I hope he does too.
Ellis Rena Burks was born on September 11, 1964 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was an outstanding high school athlete, and was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round of the 1983 amateur draft. He signed with the team that spring.
Burks had quite a reputation as an uber prospect to live up to, and after four seasons in the minors he did just that in his rookie season in 1987. Installed in center field between Jim Rice and Mike Greenwell, he covered a lot of ground and possessed a strong, accurate arm. It was at the plate and on the base paths, however, that he established his bona fides, quickly making a name for himself himself as a supremely athletic combination of speed and power. He became just the third Red Sox ever to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a single season (he stole 27). Baseball Digest and Topps both named him to their “All-Rookie” squads.
In 1988, Burks had another good season (.294/.367/.481, with 18 homers and 92 RBI), but in 1989 his injuries caught up to him, and even though he was hitting well (.303) and stealing bases (21) his season was shortened to just 97 games when he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery. It was far from the last time injuries would throw up major obstacles to his career.
Burks bounced back nicely in 1990, however, playing 152 games, bashing 21 home runs, getting named to the American League All-Star team, and winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He also finished 13th in MVP voting.
1991 saw slight declines in Burks’s numbers across the board, and in 1992 he played in just 66 games. The following year, he signed on for one season with the Chicago White Sox, where he found his stride again. He’d go on to put up great numbers in Colorado (1994-1998), San Francisco (1998-2000), and Cleveland (2001-2003). (1996 was a banner year for Burks, when he led the National League in runs, total bases, and extra base hits, slugging, and finished third in MVP voting.)
In 2004, Burks came full circle. Perhaps sensing what that particular squad was capable of doing, he signed a one-year, $750,000 deal for a final season with the Red Sox. He was almost 40, at that point, and ended up playing in just 11 games as a DH and pinch hitter, with just 33 at-bats. He hit a homer and stole a couple bases for old times sake. But that was pretty much it for Ellis Burks.
He never expected to be batting cleanup in the World Series. He just wanted to have a little fun before hanging up his cleats. And if you had to pick a season to sign on with the Red Sox, you could’ve done a lot worse than 2004.
Biography written by Mike Millard of the Phoenix's SoxBlog.
William Lawrence "Larry" Gardner, 3B (1908-1917)
1123 G, 1106 H, 496 R, 87 3B, 16 HR, 481 RBI, .282 Avg, .347 OBP, .377 SLG
William Lawrence Gardner (Larry Gardner) was born May 13, 1886 in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. Larry attended the University of Vermont and indeed became the first player from that school to make it all the way to the American League. What better way for a New England native than to make your break in baseball with the Boston Red Sox. Larry made his Major League debut on June 25th, 1908. Interestingly, the great 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson made his debut the same year.
Larry was a third baseman for the Sox from 1908 to 1917. In his time in Boston in particular he was known for being a clutch hitter who rose to the occasion in big games. He finished his career with three World Series wins in all, two of those with the Red Sox.
Gardner's key career moment probably came in the famous tenth inning of the final game of 1912 World Series. Although it was two big errors that the Red Sox two extra outs to work with, it was Gardner who drove in Steve Yerkes with the winning run of the entire series.
He also played with both the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians (1919-1924). Larry would excel late in his career with the Indians, winning a World Series (his third) with them in 1920 and then going on to hit a career high .319 in 1921.
Larry played his final game in the majors on September 6, 1924. In his 17-season career, Larry Gardner posted a .289 batting average with 27 home runs and 929 RBI in 1922 games. It should be noted Larry played in the infamous 'dead ball' period, where the ball was literally much heavier and harder than it is now. His numbers were excellent for the time. After retiring from the league he returned to the University of Vermont as a baseball coach and athletic director.
Larry passed away March 11, 1976 in St.George, Vermont at the grand old age of 90. Larry Gardner was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000. I say life was pretty good to you if you got to play for the Boston Red Sox, lived to the age of ninety and were born and buried in the same state.
This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Rich Gedman, C, #10 (1980-1990)
906 G, 83 HR, 356 RBI, .259 Avg, .309 OBP, .412 SLG
Obstructed View: The Rich Gedman Bio
The Red Sox and Fenway Park will always have their staples. In the 80s, you could count on Jim Ed in left, Dewey in right, Ken Coleman in the booth, and a pole in the way.
A less-celebrated fixture of Fenway in that neon decade was two-time All-Star catcher Richard Leo "Rich" Gedman, Jr.
Platoon-mates and backups came and went, but only Geddy was behind the plate from the Carter administration to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Here was a hometown hero, a stand-up guy who never quit, even when his body begged him to. He was the backbone of the defense, the glue that held the pitching staff together, and when he connected on that helicopter swing, Pesky's Pole braced itself for another frozen rope.
Rich grew up in the City of the Seven Hills--Worcester, not Rome--45 miles west of Boston. The Red Sox signed him as an undrafted free agent out of high school in August 1977. He quickly shot up through the system. On September 7th, 1980, a bespectacled Gedman, wearing number 50 on his back, pinch-hit for Carl Yastrzemski in his Major League debut. A few weeks later, on his 21st birthday, he caught Dennis Eckersley's one-hitter. After that season, Carlton Fisk was gone, and Geddy, the hometown boy built like a tight end, was set to become the next first-string catcher at Fenway.
In early '81, shortly after catching the first nine innings for Pawtucket in what is still pro baseball's longest game, he came up to the big leagues for good, now wearing his familiar number 10. That year he would be named Sporting News' AL Rookie Player of the Year, and would finish second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
After two more years of splitting time behind the plate, Rich became the bona fide starter, and showed his power as well, hitting 24 dingers and slugging over .500 in 1984. In 1985, he set personal records in BA, 2B, RBI, and OBP, and performed the rarest of feats, hitting for the cycle--only the sixth catcher of the century to do so. That year he was named to the All-Star team.
But it was 1986 that would define not only many of our childhoods, but Rich Gedman's career as well. In April, Rich was again part of history when he caught Roger Clemens' 20 strikeout game. He was hitting .300 at the end of that month, and was again named to the All-Star team in July.
For the third consecutive year, though, Rich caught over 130 games, and the wear-and-tear would finally start to affect his game. He slumped severely in July and August, before hitting .284 in the final month just to get his season average to .258. But the Red Sox were going to the playoffs, and Rich was primed for his first trip to the postseason.
In the '86 ALCS, the Red Sox went down three games to one. Game five would be the precise moment when Gedman reached the pinnacle of his career. His two-run homer in the second off of Angels' ace Mike Witt put Boston up 2-0. After getting two more hits off of Witt, and throwing out two runners on the basepaths, Rich came up to bat in the ninth, his team down a run, with nobody on and two men out. Angels manager Gene Mauch hadn't forgotten Rich's three hits. Seeing him up there as the tying run, and an out away from the World Series, Mauch removed Witt. Gedman, knowing the season depended on him, had to sweat it out as Gary Lucas warmed up, and over 60,000 California fans prepared to storm the field in celebration. Lucas threw--and plunked Rich Gedman. Now Rich was the go-ahead run at first. Dave Henderson came up and hit that unforgettable home run, putting life back in the Red Sox' season. It was Gedman's three hits that made it possible. The game went to extra innings, and Rich's bunt single--his fourth hit, and his fifth time on base that day--put what would be the winning run on third, setting up Hendu again, this time for the game-winning sacrifice fly. After that, the series went back to Beantown, where the Sox would win the final two games easily, advancing to the Fall Classic. Geddy's final average in the ALCS was .357.
Luck stayed on Gedman's side in the early stages of that fateful World Series, In Game One, his grounder went through the legs of Tim Teufel--he of "the shuffle"--scoring the game's only run. He also called Bruce Hurst's masterful performance that night. Rich's late-inning single helped a rally that put Game Two away, and the Sox were sitting pretty. But they sloppily lost the next two at home, before salvaging Game Five.
As Game Five of the ALCS was the top of the mountain for Gedman, Game Six of the World Series was the moment he started bouncing down the other side. After a poor performance in the field and at the plate (he hit just .200 in the series), Rich still had a chance to celebrate a championship. But with the Mets one strike away from elimination, and down two runs, they started getting hits. When the tying run was at third, Bob Stanley threw a pitch that curved away from Gedman, bouncing in the dirt and getting through to allow the run to score. Before the delirium subsided, Mookie Wilson's grounder was squirting through Bill Buckner's legs, and the Mets had won. Despite Geddy's homer in Game Seven, the Mets would come from behind again, winning it all. Gedman would never return to the World Series.
Was Stanley's pitch catchable? No. Was it blockable? Probably. It was scored a wild pitch. But many remember it as a passed ball. Some even base Rich Gedman's entire career on that play. Between eras of blaming Bill Buckner for '86, Sox fans came up with a laundry list of players and events to place blame on. Gedman was part of that blame parade. They are moments that will live forever. And they all have one thing in common. Gedman reaching for that ball as Mookie leaps out of the way; Gedman behind the plate as Mookie hits the grounder; Gedman in the background as Buckner misses the ball; Gedman standing in disbelief as Knight crosses the plate right in front of him. It was only a matter of time before people decided, "Hey, this Gedman must've done something wrong..." Do a little research, though, and see that if it weren't for Gedman, there wouldn't have even been a World Series for the Sox that year.
After that season, partially due to contract issues, Rich never found his stride again, hitting no higher than .231 from '87 to the end of his career in '92. His Red Sox tenure ended in 1990, when Tony Pena took over the catching duties. I'll never forget being at Fenway in the late 80s, and hearing a fan rudely shout, "Hey Rich, you used to be an All-Star catcher! What happened?!" Rich fielded a similar question in a 2003 article:
"I wish I could have played better than I did [after '86]. For whatever reason, I didn't. I can't tell you why. I know when it ended, I loved the game just as much as when I started. For some reason, I just didn't play as well. It was probably more mental than anything else. I started to doubt myself."
Looking at the stats, he hit about .330 at Fenway in '84 and '85 combined, then fell to .214 in '86. His OPS went from the .900s to the .500s over the same stretch. Maybe he just forgot how to use Fenway to his advantage. He also says he doesn't like to use injuries as an excuse, but he suffered from scores of them. Look how many full games he caught in '85 and '86. No catcher in the league did it more than Gedman either year. (He caught more full games in those two seasons than he did for the next and final seven years of his career.) He also caught all 14 games--start to finish--of the '86 postseason. All this work had to have taken its toll. Then there was the debacle of the '86 All-Star game. Forced to catch knuckleballer Charlie Hough, Gedman had a rough time, with a run scoring on a passed ball and a wild pitch over a two-batter stretch. Maybe that was the moment Rich's fall from grace began.
The current Red Sox ownership has kept Gedman in the family. In 2004, he and other former Sox greats finally got their rings. Gedman is now truly a hometown hero, managing the minor-league Worcester Tornadoes. His son Michael currently plays baseball at LeMoyne College.
(Photo of Jere at age fourteen, 1989, with Rich Gedman (#10) in background, probably by Jere's mom. Photo of Gedman with Johnny Pesky at the World Series parade, 2004, and Gedman with Yaz at the ring ceremony, 2005, by Jere. 1986 baseball card of Gedman with Carlton Fisk by Fleer.)
Jere is a fourth-generation Sox fan, and since March 2004, writes the blog A Red Sox Fan In Pinstripe Territory.
Jimmy Piersall, CF, #37 (1950, 1952-1958)
931 G, 919 H, 66 HR, 366 RBI, 502 RS, 58 SB, .273 Avg, .339 OBP, .397 SLG
November 14, 1929 was the date and Waterbury, CT was the place where James Anthony Piersall, a boy who was going to grow up to be a centerfielder in the MLB, was born.
He started out as a high school basketball player at Leavenworth High School. During his time there the team went to the 1947 New England Championship. He landed 29 points in the final game.
He signed a minor league contract with the Sox in 1948 at the age of 18. He would play his first major league games 2 years later in 1950, he only played six games but during that time he was one of the youngest baseball players. He managed to earn the nickname “The Waterbury Wizard”, much to his teammate’s chagrin.
During his first years in MLB his bipolar disorder began to show itself and become prevalent, which is would do a few more times after that. Prior to a May 24th game against the Yankees he got into a brawl with Billy Martin. He also managed to get into a fight with Mickey McDermott, at that time his teammate. After all this odd behavior they sent him down to the Birmingham Barons. Not after he disciplined Vern Stephens’ 4 year old son in the Red Sox clubhouse.
During 3 week time period on the Barons he got kicked out of 4 games. His last one after firing a water gun at home plate to celebrate a teammates homerun and, after being ejected, heckling umpire Neil Strocchia from the grandstand roof. From all of this he received a 3 day suspension and 3 days later checked himself into Westboro State Hospital in Mass. He spent the rest of the baseball season in the hospital. He blamed his condition on his father for pressuring him too much about baseball.
He made his return in 1953 and got voted 9th in MVP voting for that year. The year following that he took Dom DiMaggio’s place in the outfield and stayed in the starting line-up until 1958. During this time, in 1954 and 1956 he got voted into the AL All-Star team. He also managed to clinch a Gold Glove for his outfielding in 1958. In 1956 he managed to pull a league high 40 doubles in 156 games played. He also managed to rake in 93 runs, 87 RBIs, and a .293 batting average.
He got traded to the Cleveland Indians for Vic Wertz and Gary Geiger on December 2, 1958. He, oddly enough, got stuck on the same team as Billy Martin. In 1959 the Indians battled a back and forth battle with the White Sox and in the end only ended up placing 2nd. After coming off this good season, things began to change.
Following up to his being ordered to get a psychiatric check on June 26, he heckled an umpire, threw a ball at the White Sox scoreboard, wore a little league helmet at a Tigers game, and started a few rows with the Yankees. He came back on July 23rd but got his last ejection of the season for causing problems in the outfield while Ted Williams was batting. After a meeting and a few front office changes he finally got back down to earth.
The 1961 season turned into a good one for him, he managed to earn another Gold Glove. He also managed to hold a .322 batting average, placing himself 3rd. Unfortunately, this season was also marred by his antics. He tried to go after Jim Bunning after he hit him with a pitch (more than likely on accident). He also ended up throwing a helmet, altogether costing him $200 in fines. On September 5th of that season he father passed away from a heart attack. 2 days after the funeral for his father he headed out to New York only to heckled, himself, by fans. On Sept. 10, after continued annoyance from fans, he finally punched one and attempted to kick another. After all this he still earned $2500 for good behavior.
On October 5th Piersall was sent to the Washington Senators. He didn’t spend much time there because of playing decline. He was sent to the Mets on May 23, 1963. He got sent back to a reserve role while playing for the Mets. During his Mets career he also hit his 100th homerun, which he celebrated by running around the bases backwards (in order of course).
A month after reaching 100 homeruns he got released by the Mets and then signed by the Los Angeles Angels. He retired an Angel and moved to the Angels front office on May 8th, 1967.
After his career he did a little TV commentating for the White Sox but was fired was criticizing the team just a little too much. He also wrote a book about bipolar disorder and how he handled it, Fear Strikes Out. It was also made into a movie. In the end, Piersall decided not to endorse the movie because it didn’t display the facts right. He also wrote The Truth Hurts which is about the White Sox and his leaving. He now does a radio show in Chicago and got invited to the White House for the honoring of the 2004 Red Sox Championship.
And odd little tidbit I noticed and I’d figure I’d share is that he’s the godfather of former Congressman Mark Foley.
Player biography written by Mander
Friday, February 23, 2007
Troy O'Leary, OF, #25 (1995-2001)
962 G, 954 H, 209 2B, 117 HR, 516 RBI, .276 Avg, .330 OBP, .459 SLG
As soon as Jose signed his letter of intent declaring his plans to participate in this project, he knew he wanted Troy O’Leary. Let’s look at the facts. First, O’Leary hit one of the two batting practice balls Jose owns from his time working at Fenway in 1995. (Note: The other belongs to the then hitting coach a washed up hack named Jim Rice who could still crush batting practice.) Second, O’Leary, like Jose frequented a bar named O’Leary’s on Beacon St. just West of Kenmore Square. They have good soda bread there. Third, the rumors about the personal problems that distracted O’Leary in 2000 involve the delicious combination of Mrs. O’Leary and a speedy teammate, making this the most interesting story involving a Mrs. O’Leary that does not involve the incineration of Chicago. Fourth, his nickname “Yummy,” given for his sweet tooth, is maybe the best official Red Sox nickname of all time. Jose only regrets that he was not writing at the time, so he could have demanded that “yummy, yummy, yummy I’ve got love in my tummy” by Ohio Express become O’Leary’s theme song.
But let’s be honest, as much as Jose loves all of these things about Troy O’Leary, they are not the reason he is on this list and they are not the reason Jose wanted to write about him. No, Troy O’Leary became a legend… that’s right a legend... one night in October 1999 when the Cleveland Indians twice made a tactically perfect move. Two times they intentionally walked Nomar Garciaparra, the only frightening hitter on that Red Sox squad, in order to face the man they call Yummy. And Yummy ate them up like so many chocolate covered gummi bears. Each time he launched home runs a grand slam and a three run shot that, in combination with Pedro Martinez’s six innings of hitless relief, gave the Red Sox a 12-8 win. When asked after the game how he had overcome his poor performance earlier in the series to emerge as a star, O’Leary a black ballplayer in Boston answered with a reply that would have made any Sully in Southie proud “Luck of the Irish.”
Troy O'Leary's biography was proudly written by Jose Melendez of Keys to the Game.
Carl Mays, SP (1915-1919)
72 Wins, 51 Losses, 112 GS, 2.21 ERA, 399 K, 290 BB
Carl Mays has two unfortunate blots on his legacy. 1) It was he, on August 16, 1920, who threw the pitch that fatally struck Cleveland’s Ray Chapman in the head — to this day the major leagues’ only fatality. 2) He played for the New York Yankees.
But we won’t hold either of those against him. Because for the three full seasons Mays pitched for the Olde Towne Team before being traded to the Bronx in 1919, he was a scintillating pitcher: dominant, fierce, and absolutely fearless. (He was every bit as good, if not better, than another hurler traded to the Bronx, named George Herman Ruth.)
Born November 12, 1891 in Liberty, Kentucky, Mays was a lethal submariner who was also, shall we say, very “resourceful” on the mound. He made great use of the spitball, which was legal in the first few years of his career — and was, in fact, until Chapman’s death led to it being outlawed. (Even though, as Bill James argued in his Historical Baseball Abstract, the pitch Mays threw was “probably not a spitball.”)
No question, Mays — who notched a 2.60 ERA, going 6-5 with 7 saves in 38 games as a starter and reliever his first (1915) season — had a reputation. He threw hard, and he was not at all afraid to compose a little chin music. “If you got to knock somebody down to win a ball game, do it,” he said. “It’s your bread and butter.”
In 1916, his first full season with the Sox, he hit nine batters. The next two seasons, he hit 14 (leading the American League) and 18 respecitvely. But it was the other numbers that told the full story: 18-13, 2.39 in 1916; 22-9, 1.74 in 1917; 21-13, 2.21 in 1917. He wasn’t a big strikeout guy (114 was his career best in 1918), but his knew how to win games: primarily by scaring the living daylights out of batters with that screaming underhand pitch.
“Carl Mays wasn’t very popular, but when nobody else could win, he could,” said left fielder Duffy Lewis. “Whatever criticism you may make about Mays,” said Sox shortstop Everett Scott, “he has more guts than any pitcher I ever saw.”
In three full and two partial seasons with the Red Sox, Mays won three World Series with the team: 1915, 1916, and 1918 — in the last of which he went 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA. It was also in 1918 that he lead the league in complete games (30) and shutouts (8).
But the good times couldn’t last. Despite enjoying his best season with the Yankees in 1921, leading the AL in wins (27), innings pitched (336.2), games pitched (49), and winning percentage (.750), he was accused later that season of throwing the Bombers’ World Series against the Giants. The charges were never proven, but two years after the Black Sox scandal in Chicago, the mere insinuation was enough to permanently marr his legacy.
It was that, and, of course, the sad Chapman incident for which Mays would be remembered most — far more, alas, than for his greatest achievements on the mound. If it weren’t for these smudges on his record, he might have made it to Cooperstown. Instead, he retired at 37 and lived out the rest of his life quietly, dying in El Cajon, California, at age 79, in 1971.
Biography written by Mike Millard of the Phoenix's SoxBlog.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Ray Culp, SP, #21 (1968-1973)
71 wins, 58 losses, 155 GS, 51 CG, 13 SHO, 794 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Quick. Name an ace pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, a native of Texas, who wore No. 21.
That, in a nutshell, is why you’ve never heard of Ray Culp.
Culp had a solid career in Boston after being given up by two teams, winning at least 14 games in four consecutive seasons, hurling four consecutive shutouts during the Year of the Pitcher, and tying a league record for most strikeouts to begin a game. Yet he played for the forgettable, almost-good-enough teams that bridged two of the Red Sox’ most famous seasons – 1967 and 1975 – thus relegating his fine work to near-obscurity as time has gone on.
Raymond Leonard Culp was born Aug. 6, 1941 in Elgin, Texas. A high school star in Austin, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after graduating in 1959. Four years later, he made his Major League debut, coming on in relief and picking up the win in two innings of work against Cincinnati.
By many measures, Culp’s rookie season of 1962 was one of the best of his career. He went 14-11, started 30 games, completed 10 of them and pitched five shutouts. In more than 203 innings, he struck out 176 batters and posted a career-low 2.97 ERA, (not as impressive, however, when considering the league average was 3.22). Culp, named to the All-Star team, finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting, garnering one first-place vote but losing to some joker named Pete Rose.
Culp never could produce such results consistently in Philadelphia, however. In 1964, he threw a one-hitter – but he tanked in far more games than he excelled. His ERA soared to 4.13, and he finished a mere 8-7. By the end of the season, he was in the bullpen. His 1965 season was much better (14 wins, 3.22 ERA); 1966 was much worse (7 wins, 5.04 ERA, an appalling 72 ERA+).
The Phillies shipped Culp to Chicago in the offseason with cash for Dick Ellsworth. In his lone season with the Cubs, Culp was a little better – but still not very good. For the first time, he finished with a losing record; his ERA for the third time in four years was below league average. Perhaps telling of his season, Culp helped create a Major League record when the Cubs and Braves combined for five home runs in the first inning. He won the game, despite the two dingers he allowed.
The Cubs, too, had seen enough, and on Nov. 30, 1967 – just more than a month after the Impossible Dream had ended, the Red Sox traded for him in exchange for Rudy Schlesinger, who finished his career with one at bat and three different stints with the Boston organization. It was an unheralded move, but it was a steal for the Sox.
Steve Buckley’s “Red Sox: Where Have You Gone?” tells the story of Culp’s arrival:
"Looking for a change when he joined the team, he tossed out his old uniform number – 37 – and asked for a new one. Turns out that another Texas native, Cecil “Tex” Hughson, had worn the number in the ’40s, so Culp picked it up for himself. Years later, still another Texan, Roger Clemens, claimed the number … "
Culp also developed a palmball, which clearly improved his performance (the fact that it was 1968, a year in which teammate Carl Yastrzemski set a record with the lowest ever league-leading batting average, certainly didn’t hurt). His ERA improved by a run, to 2.91. He finished 16-6 (second in the league in winning percentage), completing 11 of his 30 games started and tossing a career-high six shutouts. Four of those shutouts came consecutively, as Culp did not allow an earned run for 39 straight innings, stretching from the seventh inning on Sept. 7 to the first inning on Sept. 29.
Innings 18 through 26 of the streak came against the Yankees in the Bronx. It was a beauty – a one-hit, one-walk, 11-strikeout performance that, according to my research, stood as the best game ever thrown by a Sox pitcher against the Yankees in the Retrosheet era (post-1957) until Pedro Martinez’s 17-K one-hitter in 1999.
In 1969, Culp was nearly as good, winning a career-high 17 games and pitching a career-high 227 innings. He also was named to his second and final All-Star team, pitching a scoreless ninth and striking out two. He also hit a home run on national television that season, the dugout TV microphones capturing his assertion that it was the second og his career. When baseball legend/color commentator Sandy Koufax informed Culp it was actually just the first, Culp replied: “Oh, that (other) was in a spring training game. But when you’re as bad a hitter as I am, you count everything.”
On the mound, doing what he did best, Culp wasn’t finished yet. In 1970, he won another 17 games (though he lost 14), posted the third-best ERA of his 11-year career and posted a career-high 131 ERA+. He completed 15 of his 33 games and set a career high in strikeouts, with 197, good for fifth in the league. He also tied an American League record on May 11, when he struck out the first six Angels he faced.
In 1971, Culp was decent, though his record didn’t reflect it. He finished 14-16 with a 3.60 ERA. He compiled at least 150 strikeouts, 215 innings pitched and nine complete games for the fourth consecutive year – all with Boston, in what turned out to be his last good season in baseball.
Shoulder problems that had nagged him since high school and likely contributed to his inconsistent play before the palmball, led to offseason surgery and an attempt at a comeback n 1972. The comeback was not successful. The Sox released Culp in July and signed him to a minor-league contract in the hopes that he could rediscover his form in Pawtucket. It didn’t work. In 1973, he pitched in 10 games, throwing well in just one of them – although that was against the Yankees. At age 31 and after 11 seasons in the big leagues, Ray Culp retired.
Ultimately, Culp’s 71 wins in a Red Sox uniform are good for 25th all-time – between Carl Mays and Derek Lowe. His 3.50 ERA with the Sox stands 17th on the all-time list, tied with Mel Parnell. Most impressively, he is 10th all-time in strikeouts, his 794 Ks in a Boston uniform ahead of such better-known names as Lonborg, Grove, Parnell, Lee and Schilling.
Since leaving baseball, Culp has become successful in real estate – an excellent choice along Austin’s booming Interstate 35 corridor. He named his business 123 Inc., a testament to his career batting average. As of the 2004 publication of Buckley’s book, Culp still lives there, largely unknown as one of the best pitchers ever to wear a Red Sox uniform.
Paul is a comoderator for Yanksfan vs. Soxfan, a blog dedicated to all things Sox-, Yanks- and rivalry-related.
Rube Foster, SP, (1913-1917)
58-33, 138 G, 103 GS, 60 CG, 2.36 ERA
George “Rube” Foster was born on Thursday, January 5, 1888, in Lehigh, Oklahoma. Foster was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 10, 1913, with the Boston Red Sox. He was a right-handed pitcher with the Red Sox from 1913 to 1917 and won two World Series championships with the team in 1915 and again in 1916.
Foster acted as a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher for the Red Sox during the 19 games he pitched during the season. He posted a 3-3 record with a 3.16 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 68.3 innings pitched.
Foster’s sophomore season in the big leagues was one of his best, in which he pitched in 32 games, while starting 27 of them. After Boston teammate Smoky Joe Wood taught him how to throw a fastball, the 5’7" Foster went 14-8 (1.65) in 1914. On May 26, 1914, Rube Foster’s string of 42 consecutive scoreless innings was stopped by Cleveland in the 5th inning. The Naps prevailed to win, 3–2.
He finished second in the American League with an impressive 1.70 ERA. Foster was only behind his fellow Red Sox team mate, Dutch Leonard, who posted a 0.96 ERA, which is now considered the modern day, all-time single-season record. Team mates Leonard, Foster, and Ernie Shore had three of the top four ERAs, the other belonging to Walter Johnson.
In 1915, Foster posted a 19-8 record, and an another impressive 2.11 ERA. Foster most effectively showed his importance to the team in the 1915 World Series where he picked up 2 complete game wins and only gave up 4 earned runs and struck out 13 batters in 18.0 innings. With the bat, Foster went 4-for-8, with a double and an RBI.
The 1915 World Series was of the most tightly contested World Series and was a week long pitching clinic, starting with the legendary Pete Alexander, who outdueled the Sox’ Ernie Shore, 3-1, in the opener by holding Boston to eight harmless singles. Rube Foster was the story in the series equalizer, firing a three-hitter and driving in the deciding run in the 2-1 victory with an RBI single in the top of the ninth. Back in Boston, Dutch Leonard spun another three-hit gem, against Alexander no less, in a bookend 2-1 win, and the next day the Sox made it three straight wins by an identical score. Game 5 in Philadelphia would qualify as a slugfest. Staked to a 4-2 lead, Eppa Rixey served up a two-run shot to the Sox’ Duffy Lewis in the eighth, and Harry Hooper struck for a solo blast in the ninth. After his rough start, Foster settled down to skunk the Phillies over the final five innings, cementing Boston’s third Series title.
Foster had another good campaign in 1916 acting as a starting pitcher and relief pitcher. He went 14-7 in the season, and posted a decent 3.06 ERA. In the 1916 World Series, Foster came in relief in Game 3, and pitched three scoreless innings. The Red Sox ended up winning the series 4 games to 1, and became the first back-to-back winners of the World Series since the Philadelphia Athletics had done it 5 years earlier.
Foster went back to a mainly starting role in 1917, posting an 8-7 record with a 2.53 ERA. Before the start of the 1918 season, Foster was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Dave Shean. Rube Foster refused to report to his new team so the Red Sox sent cash to the Cincinnati Reds to complete the trade.
Rube Foster’s baseball career ended. He finished his major league career with 58-33 career pitching record, a 2.36 earned run average and 294 strikeouts in 842.3 innings pitched.
Player Biography by Karen
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
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
Tony Armas, CF, #20 (1983-1986)
526 G, 510 H, 113 HR, 352 RBI, .252 AVG, .288 OBP, .480 SLG
There were three aspects of his game that really defined Tony Armas. He was often injured, he didn’t like to take a walk, and he could hit the ball real hard. He missed a lot of games due to various injuries and his .287 career OBP makes Billy Beane want to cry, but he topped 20 homers 6 times (3 times with 35 or more) and finished with 251 for his career.
Armas, born in Venezuela in 1953, was a promising young slugger making his way through the Pittsburgh Pirates system before he was involved in a nine player deal that sent him to the Oakland A’s. He began his career with the A’s in ’77, but injuries severely hampered him for 3 years before he really broke out in 1980 with 35 HR and 109 RBI. That year he carried a very weak Oakland offense to a second place finish.
Armas would hit 22 and 28 HR in the following two years with the A’s, but his free swinging ways (his 1980 OBP of .310 was one point shy of his career best of .311) wore out his welcome. Thanks to the emergence of future Hall of Famer, Wade Boggs, the Red Sox had a surplus of third basemen. They were happy to send a young Carney Lansford and two others to Oakland in exchange for the hard hitting Armas and backup catcher, Jeff Newman.
The Boston fans would boo him in ’83, his first season with the club, because of his .218 AVG for the year, but he did hit 36 homers and knock in 107 as Boston’s cleanup hitter. He patrolled centerfield for the Sox and played in between Dwight Evans and Jim Rice making for one of the most powerful outfields in Red Sox history.
1984 was the slugger’s best season when he batted .268 and set career highs in runs (107), home runs (43), and RBI (123). The 84 outfield really was the most powerful in Red Sox history as Rice, Evans, and Armas combined for 103 HR. In comparison, Ramirez, Damon, and Nixon hit 77 in ’03 and Lynn, Rice, and Evans combined for 99 in ’79.
Persistent leg injuries slowed Armas for the rest of his career and his final two years in Boston were a far cry from the slugger the Sox saw in the first two years. In ’85 he played in just 103 games and managed an OBP of just .298. In ’86 he was able to take the field for more games (121), but hit just 11 homers on the year. Despite being completely healthy during the postseason, he received only 1 AB in the ’86 World Series before the Sox let him walk during the offseason.
He hit 113 HR in 2136 plate appearances with Boston which comes out to a HR every 18.8 PA. Out of every player to hit at least 50 HR in a Red Sox uniform, only Ted Williams, Manny Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx, David Ortiz, Jose Canseco, and Dick Stuart homered more often than Armas.
Brian Martin once wrote a blog, but got bored and moved onto other things. He's currently counting down the days until he gets to watch the '07 Red Sox on his brand new plasma tv.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Tom Gordon, RP, #36 (1996-1999)
25-25, 68 saves, 4.45 ERA, 175 G
As the first capsule profile of a top 100 Red Sox that Jose has dared to write, there was no formula for Jose to draw upon, none of the comforting rituals of banality in which to swaddle himself. So it falls to Jose to dive in forthwith lest he be branded Hamlet on the Charles. So let’s take a look at a moment, a single instant of time, that made Tom “Flash” Gordon the Red Sox legend he is today.
Gordon stands astride the Fenway mound, his wool cap tight and drawn down over his eyes, blinders to his thoroughbred, eliminating all distractions and concentrating all focus on the task at hand. He draws his hands in to his chest purposefully, like a spring compressing. What will it be? The 97 miles per hour of dynamite? Or the curve that shaves six hours off the face of a clock? The switch flipped, the spring that is Tom Gordon expands with violence, sending the a blur of red and white, pinball-like down the alley and towards home plate…
Tom Gordon’s greatest Red Sox moment arrives.
It arrives not with the slap of a ball in the tired leather of a well-worn catcher’s mitt, but with the thunderclap of ash on horsehide, as David Ortiz swings as smoothly and as surely as a pinball flipper on a spoke, and sends the ball flying, as if rolling up a ramp and into the Boston night.
Yankees 4--Red Sox 3 and six outs to go. TILT.
Yup, Tom Gordon did a lot for the Boston Red Sox, and we should appreciate him. Heck, he did more that night alone, walking Kevin Millar, and panicking with Dave Roberts pinch running for Kentucky Fried Kevin, allowing Mosey Nixon to slap single Roberts to third on a hit and run. He did more for the Red Sox that one night than in his entire stint with the team. And that’s why he is one of the all time greatest Red Sox, even if it was for his work in pinstripes.
But of course this is totally unfair. In his time with the Red Sox, Tom Gordon was, well, flashy. He came aboard as a starter, as he had been in Kansas City before, and put in mediocre inning after mediocre inning before trying his hand in the bullpen. It was then that he discovered that free from the awful burden of pitching more than one or two innings at a time, he could throw quite a bit harder. Indeed, he was almost incapable of blowing a save, at least between April and September. But in October things were different. When the apples got big and ripe, Gordon would wither and fade, such as in 1998, when his blown save against Cleveland in Game 4 of the ALDS, only his second of the season, prevented Jimy Williams from looking like a genius for starting Pete Schourek over Pedro Martinez. At least some good came of it. No, Gordon seemed to be a Vanderjagt or Schiraldi, brilliant in the regular season and soft in the post season, than he did a Mariano Rivera.
It got worse, Sox fan and author Steven King authored a book that off-season entitled The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon with predictable results. King got hit by a truck and Gordon blew out his arm, all but ending his Red Sox tenure. We all know King is comfortable meddling with the forces of the dark, but seriously, he should have known that messing around with the Red Sox would have dire results.
Biography penned by Jose Melendez of Keys to the Game.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Chick Stahl, OF (1901-1906)
Career .305/.369/.416 hitter with 36 HR, 189 SB, 1,546 H, with a fielding percentage of .961 (league .946).
Chick Stahl was a regular outfielder for the Boston Red Sox's first six years in existence after four years playing for the Boston Beaneaters, meaning that he played baseball in Boston for 10 years. Stahl batted and threw left, and stood five feet 10 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds. Stahl was an accomplished outfielder who played on some very good teams:
The 1897 Beaneaters won the NL Pennant with a record of 93-39.
The 1898 Beaneaters won the NL Pennant with a record of 102-47.
The 1899 Beaneaters finished 2nd in the NL with a record of 95-57.
The 1900 Beaneaters finished 4th in the NL with a record of 66-72.
The 1901 Americans finished 2nd in the AL with a record of 79-57.
The 1902 Americans finished 3rd in the AL with a record of 77-60.
The 1903 Americans won the World Series with a record of 91-47.
The 1904 Americans won the AL Pennant with a record of 95-59. (No World Series was played.)
The 1905 Americans finished 4th in the AL with a record of 78-74.
And in his only black mark, the 1906 Americans finished 8th in the AL with a record of 49-105.
As the Red Sox's centerfielder many of the years, he directly contributed to the first World Series of the Red Sox by hitting three triples during the series.
Stahl avoided death the year after he joined the Americans, as an ex-girlfriend attempted to murder Stahl January 26, 1902. Two years later, on September 27, 1904, Chick Stahl avoided the Americans from being the victims of a perfect game by Cleveland's Bob Rhoads, singling in the ninth inning with two out.
His final hurrah as a player came in his final at-bat, when he bashed a two-run home run off New York's Tom Hughes (Hughes had been traded from the Americans to New York for Jesse Tannehill before the 1904 season).
Stahl's best season was probably his rookie year with the Beaneaters, when he hit .354/.406/.499. His two best years with the Americans came in his first two years with them. He hit .303/.377/.439 in 1901 with 105 runs scored. In 1902, he scored 92 runs while hitting .323/.375/.421. He tailed off in 1903, only hitting .274 but rebounded in 1904, hitting .290/.366/.416. Stahl experienced another tail off in 1905, hitting .258, and rebounded yet again in his final season, hitting .286/.346/.366.
A modern day comparison to Stahl, who regularly stole around 20 bases would be Juan Pierre, except he had more power than Pierre and could not run as well.
When close friend and player-manager Jimmy Collins resigned from managing the Red Sox after being their inaugural manager on August 29, 1906 (Collins was technically suspended), Stahl posted a 5-13 record as manager. Stahl entered the following spring slated to be the manager of the recently renamed Boston Red Sox, but committed suicide after confiding to Collins that he could not handle the strain of being a manager, which caused the 1907 team to use four managers (Cy Young, George Huff, Bob Unglaub and Deacon McGuire).
Stahl, widely "considered handsome, charming, with a magnetic personality," was one of many players to commit suicide in the Deadball era (spanning from 1900 to 1920).
Stahl committed suicide by drinking three ounces of carbolic acid while traveling with the team in West Baden Springs, IN. His suicide note read: "Boys, I just couldn't help it. You drove me to it."
Evan Brunell, a diehard Red Sox fan, writes about the Red Sox at Fire Brand of the American League, his analytical and sometimes not so analytical look at the Boston Red Sox. He is joined by Mike Edelman and Zach Hayes, and is also the owner and president of MVN.com.
Frank Sullivan, P, #18 (1953-1960)
97 wins, 100 losses, 3.60 ERA, 959 K, 1732 IP
Frank Sullivan was a top of the line starting pitcher in the mid-1950s for some very mediocre Red Sox teams. Sullivan started his Red Sox career as a reliver in 1953. He made his debut as a starter on May 21, 1954 beating the New York Yankees 6-3 including 3 strikeouts of Mickey Mantle. Sullivan finished the 1954 season with a 15-12 record and 3.14 ERA.
He went 18-13 in 1955, tying for the league lead in wins, starts (35) and innings pitched (260). Sullivan led Red Sox staff in ERA from 1954-1957. Frank was a member of the 1955 and 1956 American League All Star teams. In the 1955 All Star game, he allowed a 12th inning game winning HR to Hall of Famer Stan Musial. He managed to win 13 or more games 5 years in a row, 1954-58. He was also fifth in the league in ERA in 1955 and 1957. Today that would earn him a $15 million per year contract!
For his career, Frank tied with Dutch Leonard in 15th place with 90 wins as a member of the Red Sox, 20th in innings pitched with 1505.3, 9th in overall strikeouts with 821. As was the case with many Red Sox pitchers, he suffered by pitching half his games at Fenway Park. Sullivan never made a postseason appearance, as was the case of many Red Sox starts of the 1950's. Sullivan was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on December 15, 1960 in exchange for P Gene Conley. Sullivan went 3-16 for one of the worst teams ever - the 1961 Phillies, who finished the season with a 47-107 record. In 1962, Sullivan returned to the AL with the Twins and retired after the 1963 season.