On This Day in Red Sox History: Bobby Doerr Walks It off in First Televised Game at Fenway Park

On this day in 1948, the Red Sox played their first televised game at Fenway Park.

According to author Ed Walton, WBZ-TV, which was affiliated with NBC at the time, “tried out [experimental] cameras for the first time at Fenway” on that day with “few homes equipped yet with the expensive [television] sets.

There were two cameras used at Fenway, per TSN, and each was worth around $10,000. One camera was pointed towards the infield from behind home plate, while the other was pointed in the same direction from along the first base line.

The Red Sox, entering that Wednesday with a record of 8-11 on the young season, were playing host to the even worse-off White Sox in front of slightly over 8,200 spectators at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. I’m not sure how many were watching from home, but based off what Walton stated above, I’d say not many.

Nine full innings was not enough to decide this particular contest, as both sides headed to extras knotted up at three runs a piece.

That stalemate would not last long though, with Chicago jumping out to a 5-3 advantage on a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Bob Kennedy before Sox right-hander Cot Deal relieved Denny Galehouse and escaped the top half of the 10th without giving anything else up.

Down to their final three outs and at risk of falling to 8-12 on the year, Ted Williams got things started in his side’s half of the 10th by drawing a leadoff walk off White Sox reliever Earl Harrist.

The Splendid Splinter advanced all the way to third on a one-out single courtesy of Wally Moses, and just like that, the winning run came to the plate in the form of franchise legend Bobby Doerr.

Coming into that at-bat, Doerr was a lifetime .250 hitter (1-for-4) against Harrist, with that one hit being a triple.

This time around though, Doerr made sure to touch all the bases, as he took the White Sox right-hander deep to left for a three-run home run, plating Williams, Moses, and himself on his third home run of the season.

The walkoff blast improved the Sox’ record on the year to 9-11, and they would go on to have an exceptional season.

Although it’s not clear how well this game went in terms of television ratings or anything, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WNAC-TV (Channel 7) did begin regularly broadcasting both Boston Braves and Red Sox games beginning that June.

MLB Owners Approve Proposal for 2020 Season, League Will Present Plan to Players’ Union Tuesday

Major League Baseball owners have approved a proposal from the league for the 2020 season to present to the MLB Players’ Union, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The two sides are expected to meet sometime on Tuesday to discuss said plan.

This marks another step towards potentially getting Major League Baseball this year, and as ESPN’s Jeff Passan states, “now is when it starts to get serious.”

Of course, where things go from here depends on how the players’ union feels about all this.

For starters, “Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players’ would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only.”

This idea of revenue sharing is apparently a ‘non-starter’ in any proposal the union gets from the league, per The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Other hurdles include “making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely,” as well as where teams will play their games.

More specifically, according to Rosenthal, “Teams unable to open in their cities [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] temporarily would relocate, either to their spring training sites or major-league parks in other parts of the country. The same would apply to spring training 2.0 if the league decides to use mostly home parks as opposed to returning to Florida and Arizona.”

The problem with this is that “Not all clubs agree they should train in their home parks, believing spring locales offer a less densely populated, more controlled environment.”

Regionalized schedules consisting of anywhere between 78-82 games and expanded playoffs have also been discussed, while a universal designated hitter and expanded rosters could also be implemented if there is indeed baseball in 2020.

That final part, for now, is still up in the air, though. And although I can’t say for sure, it would appear that the players’ union has final say on the matter. We should hear more about where the MLBPA goes with this on Tuesday.

 

2021 World Baseball Classic Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

The 2021 World Baseball Classic will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.

Per Rojas, a source told him, “The tournament was canceled. It is not the priority right now,” while another source said, “Basically the only thing missing is an official announcement.”

The fifth installment of the international baseball tournament was scheduled to take place from March 9th until March 23rd of next year in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan.

16 countries — Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela — had already qualified for the 2021 WBC since they all participated in 2017.

However, with the tournament increasing its number of participating teams to 20, two additional qualifying tournaments were set to take place in Arizona in March, but they were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

The cancellations of those qualifying events came about three weeks before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were also postponed.

As Rojas states, “Because the [WBC] is part of the current Collective Labor Agreement (CBA) between MLB and its players union, which expires in December 2021, rescheduling the tournament must be negotiated.”

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that the next World Baseball Classic will either be held in 2023 or 2025. More specific details will likely come into focus once Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agree on a specific date in future negotiations.

MLB Expected to Propose Universal DH for 2020 Season, per Report

Major League Baseball is expected to propose a universal designated hitter for the 2020 season as part of their talks with owners and the MLB Players Association in the coming days, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Per Bowden, “Most executives believed prior to the coronavirus shutdown that the [universal DH] would be implemented by 2021 or 2022.” But, due to the unique circumstances in this case, the implementation of the designated hitter in both the American and National Leagues could “be a way to cut down on injuries in a worrisome time,” as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman notes.

The ramifications this has for the Red Sox are not all that significant seeing how the club already has one of the best DHs in baseball in J.D. Martinez. However, if what The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports is accurate, and it likely is, the Sox would play around 80 games this season against opponents “only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league.”

In other words, if there is baseball to be played in 2020, the only other clubs the Red Sox would face in the regular season would be the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, and Marlins.

It’s unclear at this point how many of those games would take place in National League ballparks, but the dread of having to constantly worry about the pitcher’s spot in the lineup in those particular contests would not be an issue if the universal DH is indeed implemented.

Interleague play would take on a whole new meaning in this scenario, and it would certainly serve as an adjustment period for certain National League clubs and a welcomed change for others.

Before anything concrete is laid out though, there are still several hurdles for MLB to jump through.

First, the league has a conference call scheduled with its owners on Monday where plans for a potential 2020 season will be discussed.

If the owners approve of MLB’s plans, that same proposal will be presented to the MLBPA on Tuesday.

Like I said though, there are still plenty of obstacles ahead, especially those of the financial variety.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Nomar Garciaparra Crushes Three Home Runs, Two of Which Were Grand Slams, in Same Game

On this day in 1999, Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra had a performance for the ages in a Monday night game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

Playing in front of just 21,660 fans at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, the best position player on the 1999 Red Sox went 3-for-4 with three home runs, two of which were grand slams, and 10 runs driven in.

That first slam came right away in the bottom half of the first inning, when after being given an early one-run lead, Mariners starter Brett Hinchcliffe allowed the first three men he faced to reach base, putting up Garciaparra in a prime position.

On the third pitch he saw from Hinchcliffe, the 25-year-old Garciaparra deposited a 2-0 fastball into the visitor’s bullpen for his third home run of the season, this one being a grand slam to put his side up 4-1.

Fast forward to the third, after Brian Daubach had led things off against Hinchcliffe with a double up the middle, Garciaparra answered the call once more as he once again took the M’s right-hander deep to right field for a two-run blast which gave the Sox a 6-2 edge over Seattle.

And in the eighth, ‘Nomah’ put an exclamation point on his historic night by coming through with the bases loaded again, this time against Mariners reliever Eric Weaver.

Weaver and Garciaparra’s duel didn’t even last that long, as the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year punished the first pitch he saw from the right-hander and sent it well over the then-seatless Green Monster for his third and final home run of the night.

His third big fly, and second grand salami, resulted in the Red Sox jumping out to a 12-3 lead, which would be more than enough for Boston to secure the eventual 12-4 victory a half inning later.

“It was amazing,” Garciaparra told reporters after the game. “I’ve never hit three home runs in a game before – not in Little League, college, nowhere. I’m glad I waited until the big leagues to do it.”

By hitting two grand slams at Fenway Park, Garciaparra became the first to accomplish that feat at his home ballpark. His 10 RBI that night were also the most by a Red Sox player in a single game since 1975.

“When you’re swinging well, good things happen,” Garciaparra continued. “Today, things felt pretty good.”

The Red Sox improved to 17-14 on the season following the 12-4 victory over Seattle.

Garciaparra would go on to finish seventh in American League MVP voting that year after winning the batting title and slashing .357/.418/.603 with 27 home runs and 104 RBI over 135 games played.

On This Day in Red Sox History: Dom DiMaggio Lifts Sox to 15th Straight Win

On this day in 1946, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to a franchise-best 15 games in a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Playing in front of over 64,000 fans in the Bronx, the Sox jumped out to an early three-run lead in the top half of the second on back-to-back two-out run-scoring hits from Joe Dobson, that day’s starter for Boston, and George Metkovich off Yankees right-hander Red Ruffing.

Fast forward to the bottom half of the fifth, with the Yankees lineup turning over for a second time, and Dobson began to waver on the mound.

The right-hander allowed the first three hitters he faced in the frame to reach base via a catcher’s interference, a single, and a walk to fill the bases for vaunted Yankees cleanup man and future Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio.

Heading into his third at-bat of the day 1-for-2 with a third inning single, DiMaggio came through with what could have been the biggest hit of the day this time around, as the 31-year-old crushed a grand slam deep to right field to simultaneously put his side up a run while also ending Dobson’s outing.

From there, Sox reliever Earl Johnson entered in the fifth and held the Bronx Bombers in check the rest of the way.

An inning and a half after Joltin’ Joe had crushed that grand slam, Boston came into the top half of the seventh trailing by one with just nine more outs to work with.

Facing off against Yanks reliever Joe Page, franchise legend Bobby Doerr led things off for a walk, setting up first baseman Rudy York to drive him in from first on an RBI triple down the left field line.

That brought up another franchise legend to the plate in the form of Dom DiMaggio, Joe’s brother, with the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from home.

The Little Professor delivered in the clutch, driving in York from third with a run-scoring single to right to make it a 5-4 contest, which would go on to be the final score on that faithful Friday evening.

The one-run victory extended the Red Sox’ winning streak to 15 consecutive games and improved their record on the year to an outstanding 21-3. The streak came to an unfortunate end one day later at the hands of the Yankees, but Boston did go on to win the American League pennant that year.

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking High School Right-Hander Mick Abel With Top Pick

In his latest mock draft for Prospects365.com, Mason McRae has the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Mick Abel with the 17th overall pick in this year’s June draft.

As we now know, the 2020 MLB Draft will be just five rounds, the shortest in the sport’s histroy, making hitting on the early picks that much more important for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and company. The club will have $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abel, an 18-year-old out of Jesuit High School in Oregon, “has touched 97 MPH at times with his fastball, but didn’t get to that regularly last summer. He also mixes in one of the better breaking balls of the amateur class, and has good feel for a changeup that could give him three plus offerings.”

Listed at 6’5″ and 190 lbs., the Oregon State University commit started two games for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, allowing four earned runs over 4 1/3 total innings of work in those appearances.

A pitching arsenal that includes a 60-grade fastball, a 55-grade slider and changeup, and a 50-grade curveball, Abel is “only going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures, something he showed a glimpse of in one outing this spring before things got shut down [due to the coronavirus pandemic],” according to MLB Pipeline.

McLean or “Mick,” is expected to be one of the first prep pitchers taken off the board in this year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see if he is still available when the Red Sox are on the clock with the No. 17 pick.