On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I briefly look back at a significant moment in Red Sox history that occurred 40 years ago Thursday.
On March 18, 1981, former Red Sox catcher and future Hall of Famer Carlton “Pudge” Fisk signed a five-year, $3 million contract with the White Sox after he was made a free agent over the winter thanks to a clerical issue.
Fisk would go on to accomplish great things in 11 years with the White Sox, leaving many to wonder why the Red Sox weren’t overly interested in bringing the New England native back considering he had become a fan favorite in Boston.
For more information on Fisk’s illustrious career, click here, here, here, and here.
This episode is barely over four minutes long, and I apologize for that. As I am typing this, I am working on getting some guests for next week and beyond, so I’m hopeful that we will not run into this problem again anytime soon.
For now, this latest episode of Podding the Red Sox is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.
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(Picture of Carlton Fisk: Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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.
On this day in 1917, 22-year-old left-hander Babe Ruth prepared to make his sixth start of the season against fellow future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in the nation’s capital.
Coming into that Monday afternoon, The Babe owned a 5-0 record to go along with a 2.20 ERA and .553 OPS against over 54 innings of work through his first five outings of the year.
Johnson, meanwhile, was 2-3 with a 2.23 ERA and .525 OPS against through six outings (five starts) and 40 1/3 innings pitched at that same point in time.
Ever the match-up between two quality hurlers, Ruth and Johnson, pitching in front of only 962 people at Griffith Stadium, put on a show, exchanging scoreless frame after scoreless frame up until the top half of the eighth.
There, Ruth, batting out of the nine-hole, drove in shortstop Everett Scott on a sacrifice fly off of Johnson, much to the frustration of the Senators right-hander.
That lone tally would turn out to be all Ruth and Boston would need, as The Bambino locked things down in the bottom halves of the eighth and ninth innings to secure the 1-0 victory for his side.
His final pitching line looked like this: 9 IP, 2 H (both singles), 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. In terms of Game Score (85), it was Ruth’s second best start of the 1917 season.
The one-run win improved the Sox’ record to 11-4 on the young season, as they would go on to finish the year 90-62, good for second-place in the American League behind only the eventual World Series champion Chicago White Sox.
Flash forward nearly 19 years later after this particular contest, and Ruth and Johnson were both part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural Class of 1936. The two legends, along with 24 other Hall of Famers, were honored at the Hall’s first induction ceremony in 1939.
Over the course of his 23-year major-league career, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is most notoriously known for his contributions to the game of baseball in the cities of Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Milwaukee again.
Despite being a legend in those two cities though, it’s worth mentioning that the 25-time All-Star begin his professional career with the city of Boston more than likely on his mind.
That being the case because as an 18-year-old who had just led the Indianapolis Clowns to a Negro League World Series title in 1952, Aaron had two major-league offers on the table from two northeast teams in the Boston Braves and New York Giants.
Since the Braves were offering a larger monthly salary than the Giants were, Aaron decided to sign with Boston and his contract was immediately purchased from Indianapolis in June 1952.
The Alabama native was assigned to Boston’s Class-C minor-league affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisc. shortly thereafter, where he promptly posted a .336 batting average and .493 slugging percentage to go along with nine home runs and 19 doubles over 87 games with the Bears.
As it turned out though, 1952 wound wind up being the last year the Braves called the city of Boston home.
At the major-league level, the Braves had struggled significantly since reaching the World Series in 1948. And that overall poor performance was met with dwindling attendance numbers at Braves Field.
Those two factors, along with the fact that the neighboring Red Sox had been gaining more and more popularity in the city, led club owner Lou Perini to make the decision to move the team to Milwaukee, the home of the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate at the time.
After Perini’s proposal was met with unanimous approval from the other National League owners, the Braves’ move to Milwaukee was made official on March 18th, 1953 while the club was still in spring training, much to the dismay of fans in Boston.
That April, the Braves opened the home portion of their 1953 schedule with a 3-2 walk-off win over the St. Louis Cardinals at brand-new Milwaukee County Stadium.
The newly-anointed Milwaukee Braves would go on to finish their first season in Wisconsin with a final record of 92-62, all while Aaron was still developing at the Class-A level in Jacksonville, where he mashed 22 home runs in 137 games for the Braves.
The following spring, Aaron broke camp by making his first career major-league Opening Day roster as Milwaukee’s starting left fielder.
At just 20 years old, he slashed .280/.322/.447 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI over his first 122 games in the majors and later finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting. The Braves’ win total went down from the season prior, yet they led the NL in attendance for a second straight year.
Aaron would go on to have a superb career, winning his first and only MVP award and World Series trophy in 1957, winning two batting titles, three Gold Glove awards, and probably most significantly, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record with his 715th career homer on April 8th, 1974.
Just five years after retiring from the game in 1975, Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 after receiving 406 of 421 votes in his first year on the ballot.
Looking at things from a broader perspective, Aaron is without a doubt one of the best outfielders to ever play Major League Baseball. He’s most well-known in Atlanta and Milwaukee, but he was only a few years off from embarking on a legendary career in the city of Boston.
In 12 career games at Fenway Park, Hammerin’ Hank posted a .745 OPS to go along with one home run and three RBI over 49 total plate appearances.
Former Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling was once again denied enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, as Yankees legend Derek Jeter and Rockies legend Larry Walker were the only two players elected into this year’s class.
Of the 397 votes cast by ‘select 10-year members’ of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Jeter, in his first year on the ballot, received 396 (99.7%), while Walker, in his 10th and final year on the ballot, received 304 (76.6%) to just sneak past the 75% threshold.
As for Schilling, the three-time World Series champion received 278 of the 397 votes, or 70%, meaning he fell short by 20 votes.
Schilling remains one of the only two non-active pitchers with at least 3,000 career strikeouts to not be in the Hall of Fame. The other is another former Sox hurler in Roger Clemens.
Since his name first appeared on the ballot back in 2013, here’s how the 53-year-old has fared with the voters:
As you can see, Schilling’s time on the Hall of Fame ballot has been a bit of a roller coaster with a more steady rise towards the latter half of his eligibility.
With eight years on the ballot down, Schilling has but two years of eligibility remaining before he is taken off the list.
Putting the character clause aside and talking strictly about what he did on the field, it is clear, at least in my mind, that Schilling should get in within the next two years.
This news comes at a disappointing time, as it appeared that Pedroia was aiming to be ready for the start of the 2020 season as recently as this past November, when he was set to meet with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran at his home in Arizona while the two were in town for the yearly GM meetings.
Fast forward a little more than three months later, and it seems as if the 36-year-old is now facing a life-altering decision based off Abraham’s reporting above. Usually, when family, agents, and the team are involved, I would have to assume retirement is a potential option here.
It sucks. It really does. What happened in Baltimore on April 21st, 2017 forever altered the course of what looked to be a Hall of Fame career for Pedroia. Since the end of that 2017 season, the California native has played in just nine total games while undergoing three different procedures on his left knee.
Pedroia still has two years and approximately $25 million remaining on the eight-year, $110 million extension he signed with Boston back in July 2013, a deal that was worth well below his market value at the time.
For now, we’ll have to monitor if either of Pedroia or the Red Sox make a statement regarding this matter. While we wait and see on that, I just want to make one thing clear: Dustin Pedroia should do what is best for Dustin Pedroia. Whether that be to step away or keep trying to play, he has earned the right to make the decision he feels is best for him and his family. I wish him nothing but the best going forward.