Friday, February 9, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #94 George Winter

George Winter, SP, (1901-1908)

213 G, 82-97, 141 CG, 2.91 ERA

On the field, the 1901 Red Sox were the blueprints for most of their descendants: potent at the plate (an astounding .293 team average), short on reliable pitching (save for Cy Young), and proficient enough to offer a summer of thrills that ultimately ended in torment. Sound familiar?

But after two straight wins, Boston dropped five in a row and was in fifth place at the start of a long road trip in late May. Despairing of his pitching aside from Young, Coach Collins signed a rookie from Gettysburg College who had hurled for a YMCA team against Boston in spring training. George Winter, nicknamed Sassafras, made his debut in Detroit in June 1901 at the age of 23.

A Gettysburg College teammate of Eddie Plank, Winter was not signed by the Athletics because Connie Mack believed he was too small to pitch in the majors at 133 pounds. Winter joined the Red Sox instead, put on 20 pounds, and won 16 games for them. He finished 16-12 with a 2.08 ERA. Winter would follow this up with a 11-9 record in 1902, where he had an ERA of 2.99.

However, in 1903 he began what many consider the start of the Red Sox rivalry with the Evil Empire. On May 7, 1903, in the first game between the then New York Highlanders aka Yankees in their first year in New York, and the then Boston Americans aka Pilgrims aka Red Sox at Huntington Avenue Grounds the first of many Yankee/Red Sox collisions occurred. New York runner, Dave Fultz, knocked into Boston pitcher, George Winter, prompting a fight and first incident between those two teams. The Red Sox won the game 6-2 then went on to win the very first World Series defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Winter went 9-8 for the 1903 champions but did not appear in the World Series as Boston used only its three 20-game winners Cy Young, Bill Dineen, and Long Tom Hughes. Instead, Winter served as a ticket taker. A Red Sox official had scalped all the reserved-seat tickets in the grandstand which affected the players’ share of the receipts. The players decided to print and sell their own tickets to the games in Boston. Winter and Jake Stahl supervised.

Winter won another 16 games in 1905. In 1908 he was sold to the Tigers. He pitched one inning of the 1908 world series, his last major league appearance. His 8-year career would see him finish at 83-102.

Player biography written by Karen

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