The Kid vs. The Man: Boston

Ted Williams hitting

Ted Williams hitting

Most of us would agree with the statement that the two finest hitters of the 1940s were Ted Williams and Stan Musial. I’m sure some would hold out for Joe DiMaggio, but my guess is that most would prefer Williams and Musial (and I’m also sure some of you will pick DiMaggio just to show me how wrong I am). They were in different leagues, so they only faced off at the All-Star Game. Except, of course, in 1946 both their teams won pennants and squared off in the World Series.

The Boston Red Sox of 1946 were a team of hitters with a handful of pitchers who were good enough to keep the team in the game. They finished second in walks, third in strikeouts, and fourth in ERA. The hitters led the American League in runs, hits, doubles, walks, and average, while finishing second in home runs. Manager Joe Cronin’s team had 104 wins (50 losses) and won the AL pennant by 12 games over defending champ Detroit.

The infield (first around to third) consisted of Rudy York, who hit 17 homers, drove in 119 runs, and hit .276; Hall of Fame member Bobby Doerr who had 18 home runs, 116 RBIs, and hit .271; shortstop Johnny Pesky who managed 208 hits, scored 115 runs, and hit .335. During the season Rip Russell played more games at third than anyone else, but by season’s end and the World Series Pinky Higgins, who’d come over from Detroit and was in his last season, was getting the majority of time at third. Higgins hit .275 with 55 hits in 64 games.

Ted Williams, “The Kid”, held down left field. He hit .342, had 38 homers, and 123 RBIs. All that got him his first ever MVP Award (his second came in 1949). Dom DiMaggio (Joe’s brother) played center field. He hit .316, scored 85 runs, and led the team with 10 stolen bases. Right Field was unsettled with Catfish Metkovich  starting opening day. He got into 76 games in right, hit .246, and had 100 total bases. He split time with Leon Culberson who hit north of .300. The catcher was Hal Wagner, a .230 hitter with six home runs. Roy Partee, hit .300 in 40 games and backed up Wagner.

Tex Hughson, Dave “Boo” Ferriss, Joe Dobson, and Mickey Harris all started at least 20 games. Hughson and Ferriss both won 20 games. All four had more strike outs than walks, but Harris allowed more hits than he had innings pitched and Ferriss broke even with 274 of each. Only Harris was left-handed. The main man out of the bullpen was 38-year-old Bob Klinger who relieved in 20 games and picked up nine saves.

Boston last won a pennant in 1918, with Babe Ruth splitting time in the outfield and on the mound (although mostly an outfielder by 1918). Also-rans for almost 30 years they were finally in the World Series. They would have to face the St. Louis Cardinals (who they’d never faced in Series play) and “The Man.”




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8 Responses to “The Kid vs. The Man: Boston”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Ten stolen bases led the club? Must be nearly a record low for a team-leader.

    • verdun2 Says:

      Not sure what the record is for lowest stolen base total on a team, but I got curious when I saw your comment. So I looked at the AL in 1946 (DiMaggio’s league and season). Neither the Browns nor the Athletics had a man with 10 stolen bases. Bill Dillinger led the Browns with 8 and Elmer Valo (who?) led the A’s with 9. In the NL the Phillies had both Ron Northey and Roy Hughes (both rate a “who?”) with 7 stolen bases. It was the only team in the NL without a 10 stolen base man, which is kind of strange as Ben Chapman, who made much of his name on his speed, was the manager. Don’t know about other seasons. I did look up league leaders and found that DiMaggio (Dom, not Joe) led the AL with 15 steals in 1950. That’s an all-time low for either league (the NL low is by Stan Hack in 1935 with 16). FYI.

      • wkkortas Says:

        Elmer Valo played forever–I think he was in the bigs from ’39 to ’60–his career lasted beyond its time because he was a good pinch-hitter. He wasn’t a bad ballplayer–I think his career average was around .290, he walked a lot, and was a solid outfielder. But not necessarily a burner.

    • wkkortas Says:

      Actually, the Senators once ( I believe it was 1957–I’m working off the top of my head here) had thirteen as a team for the entire season.

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Elmer Valo:

    I vaguely remember hearing on television one or two during the 1980s that there was an “Elmer Valo Society”, or something like that, and that then-President Reagan was a member of it. I tried to find something about it on the web just now and came up empty.


    • wkkortas Says:

      I probably should have read your post a bit more closely than I did before weighing in on Valo. Hey, I was closer on the outlinie of his career than I thought I was!

  3. William Miller Says:

    Imagine leading the league with 15 steals? That’s just crazy. Must have been a very different sort of game back then.

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