Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

Cocky

October 18, 2010

Eddie Collins

Baseball has a world of wonderful stats. One of my favorites is this: who’s the only player to hit .300 in four different decades? Answer, Eddie Collins.

Collins is the only member of the Athletics “$100,000 infield” I haven’t profiled. Primarily that’s because he’s the most famous, and thus the one readers are most likely to know. It’s time to change that omission.

Collins was from New York, attended Columbia University in New York City and, unlike a number of players who only attended college, graduated. He was a good ballplayer and in 1906 got to the big leagues with the Philadelphia Athletics. With eligibility remaining at college in 1906, he played under the name Sullivan for that season. It didn’t do him any good. Columbia knew what was going on and Collins was not allowed to play his final season. Instead, he served as a student coach and completed his degree. Already a good hitter and a fine second baseman, a combination made him a starter in 1909, he sent previous second sacker Danny Murphy to the outfield (where Murphy continued to have a stellar career). Collins spent most of his career hitting second where he developed a reputation for great bat control, timely hitting, ability to place the ball,  just all the basic things a Deadball Era two hitter was required to do well.

While in Philadelphia, Collins helped lead the A’s to pennants in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914, winning the World Series in all but the final year. With the forming of the Federal League in 1914, baseball started a new round in a salary war. Connie Mack, A’s owner, strapped for cash and losing some of his best players, sent Collins to the Chicago White Sox in 1915 for cash. While at Philadelphia, Collins managed to lead the American League in runs in 1912, 13, and 14, in slugging in 1914, and in stolen bases in 1910. A Chalmers Award, the Deadball equivalent of the modern MVP, came his way in 1914. He’d also made a reputation for himself as being very confident in his ability. This earned him the nickname “Cocky.”

He was every bit as good in Chicago. In 1917 and 1919 he was instrumental in bringing pennants to the White Sox. His mad dash home in the 1917 World Series is credited as the defining moment in the Series and led ultimately to a ChiSox victory over the Giants. In 1919 it was a different story. Collins was one of the “Clean Sox” who did not conspire to throw the World Series. Sources indicate that Collins heard rumors of the “fix”, but did not believe them. Unfortunately, he had a terrible Series, batting .226 with only seven hits (only one of them for extra bases-a double), one RBI, and was caught stealing in a key moment. After the Series he was one of the critics of the “Black Sox” and testified at their trial.

Neither the Black Sox scandal nor the end of the Deadball Era seemed to effect his play. He continued hitting over .300, peaking at .372 in 1920, and hitting .344 in 1926 his last year in Chicago. He led the AL two further times in stolen bases (1923 and 1924). In 1925 he became a player-manager for Chicago, taking the team to a fifth place finish, its highest finish since 1922 (also fifth). They remained fifth in 1926, and he lost his job to former teammate and “Clean Sox” Ray Schalk.

 He went back to Philadelphia in 1927, but never again played 100 games in any season. 1927 was his last productive year. He hit .336, played in 56 games at second, stole 12 bases, and scored 50 runs in 226 at bats. His on base percentage was .468. In 1928 he got into 36 games, almost all as a pinch hitter. In 1929, he played in nine games, all as a pinch hitter (racking up no hits). His last season was 1930, when he went one for two and scored a run. His .500 batting average in 1930 made him the only player to average at least .300 for four different decades (1900’s, 19 teens, 1920s, and 1930s). OK, it’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s still a fun bit of baseball trivia.

By this point he was already doing a bit of coaching. He continued through 1932, then became General Manager for the Boston Red Sox in 1933. He remained in that position through 1947. He was instrumental in bringing such players as Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky to the big leagues. In 1946, on his watch, the Red Sox went to the World Series for the first time since 1918. They lost to St. Louis.  Unfortunately, he continued the Red Sox tradition of not integrating the team. He retired in 1948 and died in 1951. His Hall of Fame induction came in 1939.

Collins numbers are staggering. He hit .333, had 3315 hits, scored 1821 runs, stole 741 bases, walked 1499 times, had a .424 on base percentage, put up 4268 total bases, and slugged .429, which isn’t bad for a player with only 47 home runs. He is the only player to play at least 12 seasons for two different teams (Philadelphia and Chicago). He played on six pennant winners, and four World Series champions. In World Series play he hit .328, scored 20 runs, had 42 hits (good for 10th all time), 14 stolen bases (tied with Lou Brock for the most ever), and his four doubles in 1910 is tied for the most in a four game series. On top of all that, Collins was a good second baseman, leading the AL in putouts seven times and in assists four. He is still second all time in putouts and first in assists among second basemen. An argument can be made that he is the third best player of the Deadball Era, behind Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner (not sure I’d make it).

Collins is consistently rated among the five greatest second basemen in Major League history (Rogers Hornsby, Joe Morgan, Nap LaJoie, and Charlie Gehringer are the other names most commonly, but certainly not exclusively, mentioned). You won’t get an argument from me. I’m not sure I’d rate him first, but he’s certainly in the running.

Jack Barry, Six-Time Winner

August 20, 2010

Jack Barry in 1913

You know one of the strange things you find out when you study baseball history is that no matter how good a particular player is, he usually, but not always, ends of on a  team that puts up a regular season losing record at some point. Babe Ruth did it in 1935, Mickey Mantle did it in the last couple of years of his career. Deadball player Jack Barry never did.

Barry was born in Connecticut in 1887. He played ball locally, then transferred his talents to Holy Cross. Connie Mack found him in 1908 and signed him to play with the Philadelphia Athletics. He became the shortstop of the “$100,000 infield” (Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Barry, Frank Baker first to third), the premier infield of the day. The $100,000 had to do with what the infield was worth, not what they were paid. He became part of the first Athletics dynasty that won the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913, then lost the Series in 1914. He stayed with the A’s into 1915, then found himself sold to the Boston Red Sox for $8000. The A’s ended up with a terrible record. The Sox went to the World Series.

With Barry at shortstop (longtime shortstop Larry Gardner went to third base), the Red Sox won the World Series in five games over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Red Sox promptly went out and won the 1916 World Series too, although Barry, by now a second baseman, missed the Series.  So in consecutive years from 1910 through 1916 Barry was on five World Series winners, one World Series loser, and saw his team miss the Series exactly once (1912). Not bad, right? Well, it was the end of the streak. In 1917, Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan retired from the dugout. Barry replaced him and led the BoSox to second place. It was his only year as manager,  Ed Barrow taking over in 1918.

Barry left the managerial job not because he wasn’t any good at it, but because the United States entered World War I. Barry joined the military and missed the entire 1918 season. Under Barrow, the Red Sox went back to, and won, the World Series. So there was no managerial job waiting for Barry when he returned  in 1919. He played in 31 games in 1919, then was sold back to the Athletics. Rather than report, he retired.

Over his career, Barry hit .243, slugged .303, had on OBP of .321 (for an OPS of .624), stole 153 bases, had 1009 hits, 532 runs, and 429 RBIs. His fielding was consistently among the league leaders, but he was never the most accomplished shortstop (or second baseman) in the AL. His World Series number mirror his regular season play very well. In 25 World Series games he hit .241, slugged .345, and had on OBP of .272 (for an OPS of .617), all very close to his career percentages. His managerial record was 90-62.

Barry was through with the Major Leagues, but not with baseball. In 1921 he took over coaching duties at Holy Cross and remained there the rest of his life. His career .806 winning percentage is a college record.

But the title says “six-time winner” and you’ve only counted five, right? Well, in 1952 he took Holy Cross to Omaha where they won the College World Series. Still coaching the team, he died in April 1961. Of the $100,000 infield, only Frank Baker outlived him. In 1966 he was one of the initial inductees to the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Not a bad outcome for a .243 hitter.

RIP Ralph Houk

July 23, 2010

Ralph Houk as Detroit manager

I see that Ralph Houk died Wednesday at age 90.  He spent most of his career as a backup catcher behind Yogi Berra during the 1940s and 1950s. He got into all of 91 games over eight years, hit .272, had no home runs, and picked up a World Series ring in 1947, 1949-1953. He managed to get into two World Series games, one in 1947, the other in 1952. He pinch hit both times and made an out each.

He was, in other words, a pretty mediocre ballplayer. He was, however, a heck of a manager. When Casey Stengel retired (forcibly) after 1960, Houk was his replacement with the Yankees. He promptly led the Yanks to World Series victories in 1961 and 1962, then won the pennant in 1963, losing the Series to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers. He retired after that season, replaced as Yankees manager by Berra. He returned to New York in mid-1966, remaining through 1973. He managed Detroit from 1974 through 1978, finishing as high as fourth once. His managerial career ended in Boston with a stint in the dugout from 1981 through 1984. He finished as high as second in the latter half of the 1981 split season. His career managerial record gave him a .541 winning percentage.

In 1986 he joined the Minnesota Twins front office. He helped put together the team that would win the 1987 World Series and provide the major parts for the 1991 World Series winner. Then he retired from baseball for good.

Obviously his glory period was the 1961-63 era with New York. He managed the famous 1961 home run record race, helping Roger Maris to cope with the press, the crowds, and the nonsense. For all that he’s easily the least famous Yankees manager to win a World Series (OK, maybe Bucky Harris in 1947). I guess somebody has to be, but I always liked Houk. He was apparently a good clubhouse man and took care of his players. Following up Casey Stengel was hard enough, but winning on top of that was even harder.

I rooted for him in 1962 and against him in 1963. Despite that, he was  a man I admired. May he rest in peace.

Spoke

June 11, 2010

Tris Speaker

Normally when I try to wax eloquent about a Deadball Era player, I attempt to find some reasonably obscure one to say things about. This time I want to change that up and talk about a really good player, Tris Speaker. He, with suitable apologies to Eddie Collins, was arguably the third finest Deadball Era player behind only Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.

He wasn’t an instant success, hitting a buck 58 in a seven game stint with Boston in 1907. In 1908 he hit all of .220. He was to hit below .300 exactly two more times: 1919, and his final season in 1928. His breakout year was 1910. He hit .340 and scored 92 runs. By 1912 he was teaming with Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis to win the World Series and establish one of Stone Age baseball’s finest outfields. In the Series he did OK, without being spectacular, and provided a key hit in the final inning of the final game. That same year he won his only home run title (with 10) and led the American League in doubles. His .383 batting average was third behind both Cobb and Joe Jackson.

Speaker (nicknamed “Spoke” by this point) had good years in both 1913 and 1914 then got back to the World Series in 1915. The Sox won in five games and he hit .294 with no RBIs. Before the 1916 season Boston traded him to Cleveland for pitcher Sam Jones, infielder Fred Thomas, and $55,000 cash. Chalk it up to lack of money and terminal stupidity (And you thought Boston’s bad trades began with Babe Ruth, didn’t you?).

Speaker continued to play well in Cleveland. In 1916 he led the league in hits, doubles, slugging and finally won a batting title. In 1919, he became player-manager and, despite a drop in his own stats, guided the Indians to second place. In 1920 they won the AL pennant and the World Series. For Speaker 1920 was a career year and a challenge. He hit .388, at the time a career high (he later hit .389 in 1925), and developed a new platoon system (first base and both outfield corners). He dealt with the accidental beaning and death of shortstop Ray Chapman with class and brought up future Hall of Famer Joe Sewell to replace Chapman.

Speaker stayed as player-manager through 1926, playing well and adapting to the post-Stone Age world. In 1927 he went to Washington where he teamed with Walter Johnson in the latter’s final season. His batting was still good, but his fielding was beginning to suffer. Age was slowing him down. In 1928, he moved on to Philadelphia for one final season where he teamed with Ty Cobb (also in his last season). It wasn’t a good year, and Speaker gave up playing when the Athletics season ended. He has chosen for the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Speaker is still fifth in hits (and was second when he retired) and is the all-time leader in doubles. That stat has a special kicker to it. He’s 48 doubles ahead of the second man on the list, Pete Rose. That’s farther ahead of the second place guy than the other extra base hit leaders. Sam Crawford leads Cobb by 14 in triples and  Bonds in less than ten ahead of Aaron in home runs.

Speaker did some coaching and scouting after he retired. There were rumors he joined the Ku Klux Klan at one point. I can’t find a definitive source to verify (or refute) that. He was known for helping newly arriving black players, especially Larry Doby, when integration came to baseball. Maybe he was a Klansman or maybe he wasn’t, but it doesn’t seem to have carried over to his views on baseball talent.   

Speaker is one of those talents that transcends his era. There are a lot of players that I look at and feel they were great because of when they played. Move ’em twenty years forward or backward and they might be marginal players or even stars, but not all-time greats. Tris Speaker isn’t one of those. His numbers transcend his era. I rate him a top five center fielder ever (Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays alphabetically, are the other four).

The New Kid Does Good

June 9, 2010

Young phenom pitchers come and go. Some are exactly what you expect, some are even better, some much worse. Stephen Strasburg did OK, but so did another pitcher back a few eons ago.

On Saturday, 11 July 1914, the Boston Red Sox were at home against the Cleveland Naps. They were in sixth place in the American League, 5 games out, when manager Bill Carrigan decided to start a new phenom on the mound. The new kid was a left-handed nineteen year old just picked up from Baltimore who was reputed to be pretty good.

The Kid took the mound, got the first man out, then managed to pitch shutout ball for six innings. He gave up five hits but no one scored. The seventh inning proved to be more difficult for him. He gave up two more singles. Combined with a sacrifice, they plated two runs for the Naps (the same number of runs Strasburg gave up). Carrigan pulled him at the end of the inning (again the same inning Strasburg left the game). Boston gave up one more run, but hung on to pick up the victory 4-3 and the Kid was the winning pitcher. At the plate he went 0-2 (same as Strasburg).

For the season the Kid pitched in four games going 2-1 in 23 innings with an ERA of 3.91. He gave up 21 hits, one a home run, and 12 runs. He struck out 3 and walked 7.  At the plate he went 2 for 10 with four strikeouts and no walks. He did manage a double, scored a run, and picked up two RBIs. Not much better than his pitching numbers, but the double and the RBIs showed promise.

Manager Carrigan brought him back the next season and left him on the mound. It took a few years and a new manager, Ed Barrow, but the Red Sox finally moved the Kid to the outfield. The Kid, George Ruth, now nicknamed “Babe” did pretty well there.

Welcome to the big leagues Stephen Strasburg. May you have a long and productive career.

Stuffy McInnis, Deadball Star

May 1, 2010

Stuffy McInnis with the 1925 Pirates

As I’ve pointed out before, most of the Hall of Fame caliber players from the Deadball Era are largely forgotten today. Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner may be exceptions, but by and large it’s true. It’s even more true of the stars of the era who didn’t make it to Cooperstown. Here’s one.

John (Stuffy) McInnis was a great fielding, good hitting first baseman for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in the second decade of the 20th Century. Coming out of Gloucester, Massachusetts at age 19, he was the junior member of the A’s famous “$100,000” infield in both age and entry to the Major Leagues. For those curious, the rest of the infield is Eddie Collins at second, Jack Barry at short, and Frank Baker at third.

McInnis arrived in Philadelphia as a shortstop in 1909. Mack had Barry at short, so McInnis had to find another position. By 1911 he was the primary first baseman, replacing aging Harry Davis. He stayed with Philadelphia through 1917, seeing the glory years of the 1910, 1911 and 1913 World Series triumphs, the heartbreak of the 1914 World Series flop, and the disastrous 1916 campaign.

In 1918 he was traded to Boston for three players one of which was longtime Red Sox stalwart Larry Gardner. The Sox promptly won the World Series. In 1915 and 1916, the Red Sox won the World Series, then dropped back to second in 1917, thus a good team was already in place. So it’s not like they picked up McInnis and came out of nowhere to win. (Having that Babe Ruth guy helped a lot.) McInnis was a fielding upgrade over the previous first baseman, and had roughly the same numbers at the plate. Remember, this is the Deadball Era and first basemen are not yet primarily sluggers. In the Series, McInnis knocked in the only run in a 1-0 Red Sox game one victory, then scored the winning run in game three.

In 1922 he went to Cleveland, beginning the nomad phase that went on for the rest of his career. In 1923 and 1924 he was with the Boston Braves (now of Atlanta). In 1925 and 1926 he played for Pittsburgh, helping the Pirates to a World Series victory in his first year there. He took over as manager for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1927, playing in one final game. They finished last and he was let go by the Phils.

He managed in the minors and at colleges after his playing career ended, ultimately retiring from Harvard in 1954. He died in 1960.

The first thing you notice about McInnis is his fielding numbers. For any era they are impressive, for baseball’s Stone Age they are mind-boggling. Between 1912 and 1924, the seasons he is generally his team’s regular first baseman, he finished first in fielding six times, second five times, and fourth the other two years, including his rookie year at first base in 1911. His fielding prowess is reflected in a range factor almost half a run higher than anyone else who played significant time at first (OK, I know you don’t figure range factor for first basemen, but  did it on a lark and discovered McInnis.). In 1921 in 1651 total changes over 152 games he made one (count ’em) error, a record that stood until Steve Garvey rang up no errors in 160 games in 1984 (and Garvey only had 1319 chances that season).Thank of that if you will. On 1921 fields with 1921 equipment, over 1651 chances Stuffy McInnis got 1650 of them right (the error was a dropped throw). Only Wally Pipp at New York (1713 chances) and Earl Sheely at Chicago (1756 chances) handled more balls and Pipp had 16 errors (one every 107 chances) and Sheely had 22 (one every 80 chances). In the National League New York’s George Kelly had comparable chances  (1667) and he committed 17 errors (one every 98 chances). Other McInnis seasons are comparable.

McInnis is credited with inventing the “knee reach”, or what we know as the first baseman’s split, when catching the ball. Don’t know if it’s true, but if he did it makes him an even better fielder. I’ve played a little first base and know how difficult it is to reach for a ball that’s beginning to change direction on you.

As a hitter McInnis was no slouch either. He hit .308 for his career, almost all singles. In today’s world of power hitting first basemen he would be in trouble, but in the context of his time he can be rated a solid, but not spectacular hitter. Of 2406 hits, 1973 (83%) were singles. His isolated power is 072. For his entire career he hit 20 home runs with a high of four in 1913. He didn’t have a great deal of speed, swiping a high of 27 bases in 1912. What he did do was put up a lot of runs. On four occasions he had 90 or more RBIs, and averaged 60 runs scored per year in his 14 full seasons. In a low scoring era that’s not bad, but not absolutely in the top echelon.

What McInnis did best was win. Five times he went to the World Series. Four times his team won (1911, 1913, 1918, 1925). He was on one other team that won a Series (1910) but did not play. Twice he went to teams that won the World Series in his first year with them (the latter two championships). Again, he’s not the primary reason his new team wins, but he seems to have provided part of the spark that put the team over the top.

It’s obvious I like McInnis. He’s a good solid player, who helps his team win. Is he an overlooked Hall of Famer? I might vote for him if I was on a veteran’s committee, but he wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Is he an overlooked star of his era? Yep.

Perfect…..Sort of

February 15, 2010

The year 1917 had a couple of unusual pitching performances. In this post and a later one, I’m going to take a look at them.

The 23rd of June 1917 was a normal baseball day in Boston. The games (it was a doubleheader) were in the afternoon and the Washington Senators were in town. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Senators ace Walter Johnson wasn’t supposed to pitch so the first game should have been just another outing in an attempt to grab the pennant. Instead, the Sox fans were treated to a once ever happening, a perfect game in which the winning pitcher only faced 26 batters.

The Sox sent lefty ace Babe Ruth (you forgot he was a pitcher, didn’t you?) to the mound against Senators right-hander Doc Ayers. The Washington lineup was : Ray Morgan (2b), Eddie Foster (3b), Clyde Millan (cf), future Hall of Famer Sam Rice (rf), Joe Judge (1b), Charlie Jamieson (lf), Howard Shanks (ss), John Henry (c), and Ayres. Not exactly Murder’s Row. For the season, Rice would hit .302 and lead the team with 25 doubles, 69 RBIs, and 35 steals, while Judge would lead the team in slugging at .415. On the other hand, Jamieson was a backup outfielder who played in only 20 games that season and hit all of a buck 71.

It should have been a relatively easy day for Ruth, but he was already arguing with the umpire Brick Owens after the first pitch. On four straight pitches he walked leadoff hitter Morgan. Enraged, Ruth charged the ump and managed to slug him. Ruth was escorted off the field by police and catcher Pinch Thomas was also tossed out after apparently making some comments about the ump’s ancestors. In came Sam Agnew to catch, and to pitch the Sox called on 26 year old right-hander Ernie Shore.

Shore had been in the Majors for a while. He’d won more than he’d lost, managing 19 wins in 1915 and 17 in 1916. He’d split two decisions in the 1915 World Series victory over Philadelphia and had won both starts in the 1916 win over Brooklyn. So Shore wasn’t some bum being brought in to fill a hole, but he’d not expected to pitch that day and had only five warmup pitches before throwing his first real pitch.

Senators owner/manager Clark Griffith sent Morgan on the first pitch. Catcher Agnew threw him out by a comfortable margin. Then Shore set down Foster and Millan to end the inning. And that was it for the Senators. Shore shut them down completely, allowing no hits, no runs, and striking out two. At the end of the game the score stood 4-0 with Sox center fielder Tilly Walker, third baseman Larry Gardner,  catcher Agnew, and pitcher Shore scoring runs while right fielder Harry Hooper and Agnew each drove in a pair (remember, Agnew was in the lineup only because Pinch Thomas was tossed out in the first inning).

Shore had pitched at perfect game. Well, sort of. There was that nagging problem of Morgan reaching on a walk, but then Shore hadn’t pitched to him, Ruth had. And of course Shore was pitching when Morgan was thrown out at second. So all 27 outs were made with Shore on the mound, but he’d only pitched to 26 men. Hadn’t happened before, hasn’t happened since. For years baseball carried it as a perfect game, but noted Ruth had walked a man. Since the changes in rules it’s no longer considered “perfect” but merely a joint no hitter.

Shore played eight years in the Majors going 65-42 with a 2.47 ERA, 271 walks, and 310 stikeouts over 982 innings. Not a bad career, but certainly nothing special. He died in 1980, known for one game. It was a heck of a game.

BTW—-special piece of trivia. Harry Hooper played right field and led off for the Red Sox. In 1922 he was in the outfield for the White Sox when Charlie Robertson threw a perfect game for Chicago. As far as I can tell, Hooper is the only player to participate in two “perfect” games (but see below).

Can’t use ’em

January 3, 2010

I’m a huge fan of the old sportswriter Wendell Smith. If you get a chance to read any of his stuff, take the time. Being black, he was very concerned about the integration of baseball in the 1940s. He championed Jackie Robinson and he wrote eloquently. He also put his money where his mouth was.

On 16 April 1945, Smith managed to get the Boston Red Sox to have a tryout for 3 black players at Fenway Park. The idea was that in the war-ravaged major leagues, black players of quality could give a team an edge and that white owners would do anything to win. He’s supposed to have chosen Boston because it was the cradle of American liberty and of abolitionism. Don’t know that’s true, because Smith never said it, at least that I can find, but it sounds like Smith.

So who’d he choose to represent black baseball? He took 3 players: Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Marvin Williams. If you know much about baseball history you know Robinson won both a Rookie of the Year award and the MVP and became a Hall of Famer. Jethroe was older, had a shorter career, but also won a Rookie of the Year award.  Williams was a Negro League second baseman/third baseman who never made it to the majors.

Again if you know much about baseball history you know that the Red Sox turned down all three players saying they couldn’t use them. Smith went back to Pittsburgh, Jethroe and Willams back to black baseball, and Robinson went on to glory. But what happened to the Red Sox in 1945?

Here’s the starting lineup for the Red Sox in 1945 (everyone who played more than 80 games): Catfish Metkovich at 1st (he led the team with 19 steals); Sketter Newsome at 2nd; Eddie Lake at short; Jack Tobin at 3rd; an outfield of John Lazor (who led the team in hitting at 310), Leon Culberson, and Bob Johnson (who led the team with 12 home runs); Bob Garbark as catcher; and Tom McBride a backup outfielder and first baseman who played 100 games and his 305. No other position player appeared in 80 games.

How’d they do? They finished 71-83 in 7th place (in an 8 team league) 17.5 games behind the pennant winning Tigers. So let’s see now, let me get this straight. The Sox couldn’t use a future Hall of Famer and a future Rookie of the Year (actually 2 of those) but could use Culberson  who hit 275 with 6 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 4 stolen bases in Jethroe’s normal position; Newsome who hit 290 with 1 home run, 48 RBIs, and 6 stolen bases in what was to become Robinson’s normal position; and Tobin who hit 252 with no home runs, 21 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases in what was Williams’ normal Negro League position. I guess that makes sense to somebody, just not me.

Despite some earlier posts on this site that might have led to other conclusions, I’m not a particular Red Sox fan. This kind of thing is part of the reason why. It would take Boston until 1959, 12 (count ’em 12) years after the Brooklyn Dodgers brought up Jackie Robinson, to finally integrate their Major League team. Between 1918 and 2004 the Red Sox never won a World Series. Part of the reason may have been the “Curse of the Bambino”, but there was certainly at least one other reason.