On This Day in Red Sox History: Ted Williams Enlists in U.S. Navy

On this day in in 1942, Red Sox legend Ted Williams enlisted in the United States Navy a little more than five months after Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japanese forces and the U.S. entered World War II as a result.

At the time of his joining the Navy reserves voluntarily, Williams was 31 games into what would turn out to be a superb 1942 campaign.

The Kid was coming off a 3-for-5 effort in Cleveland the day before his enlistment, raising his slash line on the year to a robust .319/.458/.611 to go along with nine home runs and 37 RBI.

Despite being exempt from the draft due to his mother’s dependence on him, Williams faced criticism from fans and media alike as his courage was put into question.

Still, even though he didn’t have to, Williams, who was 23 at the time, enlisted in the Navy on May 22nd and was sworn in that same day.

From there, the Splendid Splinter went on to finish second in 1942 American League MVP voting behind Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon despite winning the Triple Crown and leading the junior circuit in several offensive categories.

The Red Sox finished second in the American League that year, and in November, Williams was called into active duty.

For the next three years, in what would have been his age-24, 25, and 26 seasons, Williams never saw any live combat, but he did spend his time training, eventually earning his wings and Marine Corps commission in 1944 and attending flight school in Florida for a few years before being discharged in January 1946.

Williams re-joined the Sox that spring and picked up right where he left off in terms of offensive production. He was however recalled to military service later on in 1952, serving as a Marine Corps captain and member of the first Marine Air Wing during the Korean War.

For more on Williams, click here, here, and here.

 

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Luis Tiant Signs With Boston

On this day in 1971, the Red Sox signed free-agent right-hander Luis Tiant to a minor-league contract.

Tiant, 30 at the time, had just been released by the Braves two days earlier after Atlanta refused to promote him to the majors.

The beginning of the 1971 campaign was eventful for Tiant. He had been diagnosed with a crack in a bone in his right shoulder the year prior and missed ten weeks of the 1970 season because of it.

Entering 1971 as a member of the Twins organization, Tiant missed two weeks of spring training due to a pulled muscle in his rib cage and was subsequently released by Minnesota in late March.

As previously mentioned, the Braves picked the veteran righty up on what was then called a 30-day trial contract with their Triple-A affiliate in Richmond.

That experiment did not work out however, as Atlanta eventually cut Tiant loose on May 15th. He was on the open market for just two days before the Red Sox acquired his services on the 17th.

Tiant’s Red Sox tenure began in Louisville home of the Sox’ Triple-A affilate at the time,, where he posted a 2.61 ERA over 31 innings of work, which was good enough to earn him a call up to Boston on June 3rd.

The Cuba national’s first major-league experience with the Sox did not go so well as he went just 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA over 21 appearances (10 starts) and 72 1/3 innings of work in ’71.

Fortunately though, El Tiante would wind up being one of the better starting pitchers of the decade in his time with the Red Sox.

From 1972 until 1978, Tiant owned an ERA of 3.30, an ERA+ of 121, and a FIP of 3.50 over 253 outings (228 starts) and 1,702 1/3 total innings pitched. Per FanGraphs, he was the 14th-most valuable starting pitcher in baseball during that time period in terms of fWAR (28.0) while compiling two All-Star appearances and three top-six finishes in American League Cy Young voting.

In his lone postseason action with Boston in 1975, the Red Sox won all four games Tiant started in against the Athletics and Reds, although they did go on to fall to Cincinnati in the World Series that year.

Following the 1978 season, Tiant inked a two-year deal with the Yankees and went on to also pitch for the Pirates and Angels before calling it quits in 1982.

Inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997, Tiant currently serves as a special assignment instructor for the club.

 

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.

On This Day in Red Sox History: Babe Ruth Outduels Walter Johnson in D.C.

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.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Babe Ruth Hits First Career Home Run Against Future Team

On this day in 1915, a 20-year-old Babe Ruth embarked on his journey to becoming one of the most notorious home run hitters of all time in Upper Manhattan, New York City.

Then a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was slated to make his third pitching start and fourth overall appearances of the 1915 campaign against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. The Sox were 7-6 on the morning of that Thursday afternoon contest, while the Yankees had gotten off to a 10-5 start.

At that point in time, Ruth had yet to become a full-time player. In other words, all of his at-bats with Boston to that point had either come as a pitcher or pinch-hitter. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the wisest decision.

Anyway, Ruth got the starting nod from manager Bill Carrigan and opposed Yankees right-hander Jack Warhop on that faithful Thursday in front of 5,000 or so fans at the Polo Grounds.

Having tossed two scoreless innings to start things out, Ruth came to the plate for his first at-bat of the day against Warhop, who had also worked the first two innings without giving up a run, in the top half of the third.

Per The Boston Globe, “Ruth, who impressed the onlookers as being a hitter of the first rank, swatted a low ball into the upper tier of the right-field grandstand and trotted about the bases to slow music.”

The Babe’s first career home run gave his side an early one-run advantage in what would eventually turn out to be a 4-3 loss in 13 innings.

Ruth finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with that one homer. Pitching wise, the left-hander’s final line looked like this:

12.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 3 Ks. In total, Ruth faced 50 hitters and presumably finished the two-hour-and-35-minute contest with a very high pitch count.

The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash. Whatever you want to call him, Ruth would go on to mash 713 more home runs over the course of an illustrious 22-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Boston Braves.

Exactly three years after hitting his first big league home run, Ruth made his first career start at first base and batted out of the six-hole in another game against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, marking the first time he had appeared in a game at a position outside of pitcher or pinch-hitter.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Cy Young Tosses American League’s First Perfect Game

On this day in 1904, 37-year-old right-hander Cy Young, then of the Boston Americans, took the mound at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds for his fifth start of his 15th major-league season against the Philadelphia Athletics on a Thursday afternoon in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood.

Coming into that Thursday, the Americans had won 12 of their first 15 games, while Young owned a sparkling 1.97 ERA through his first four outings of the year.

At that time, the American League was in its infant stages having just been founded in 1901, and the Americans and the Athletics represented the Junior Circuit’s last two champions. To add on to that, the pitcher’s mound being 60 feet 6 inches away from home plate instead of 55 feet 6 inches was still a fairly new concept, as it was first introduced in 1893.

Having already amassed 569 major-league starts over the course of an illustrious career up until that point in time, Young was already regarded as one of the game’s best, but what he did on that faithful Thursday might be his most exceptional accomplishment.

Pitching in front of over 10,000 fans at the Americans’ old stomping grounds, Young had somewhat of a history with his counterpart for the A’s that day in left-hander Rube Waddell.

Just a week prior, the Athletics southpaw had outdueled Young in a 2-0 victory for his side at Columbia Park in Philadelphia, leading Waddell to ‘bait’ Young through the press leading up to the May 5th rematch, much to the chagrin of the Boston ace.

The game itself took all of 83 minutes, with Young and Waddell exchanging blows through the first five frames before the Americans finally broke through against The Rube with a run in the sixth and another pair tacked on in the seventh.

That bit of offense would turn out to be all Young needed to see this one through, as “Cyclone,” having already sat down the first 21 Athletics he faced in order, wrapped things up by doing the same with the final six hitters who came to the plate against him in the eighth and ninth innings.

That sixth and final A’s batter Young faced with two outs in the top half of the ninth just so happened to be Waddell himself, hitless to that point in the contest, obviously.

On the third pitch of that final at-bat, Young got Waddell to fly out to center for the third out of the ninth, and that was that. The first perfect game in baseball’s modern era, and the first since 1880, had just been completed.

“How do you like that, you hayseed?” Young shouted at his rival after retiring him for the final out as spectators stormed the field in celebration.

From there, Young went on to finish the ’04 campaign with a 26-16 record, a 1.97 ERA, and a .527 OPS against over 380 innings pitched. All while leading the Americans to their second consecutive American League pennant.

Upon retiring from baseball in 1911, Denton True Young, 44, had a World Series championship, a pitching Triple Crown, and two ERA titles to his name. He is without a doubt one of the Deadball Era’s greatest pitchers, but outside of May 5th, 1904, he was never perfect again.

 

 

Chase d’Arnaud Is One of the Greatest Red Sox Hitters of All Time

When you think of great hitters that have donned a Red Sox uniform over the course of the franchise’s storied history, names that first come to mind probably include legends such as Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, and Nomar Garciaparra.

As revered as those three individuals are, there’s probably one former Red Sox player you weren’t thinking of. His name? Chase d’Arnaud.

You might be thinking to yourself, Chase d’Arnaud only played two games with the Red Sox a few seasons ago. How could he possibly be regarded as one of the best hitters in the franchise’s history?

Well, I’ll tell you why that is. d’Arnaud owns a career 1.000 batting average with the Red Sox. It’s that simple. According to FanGraphs, six players have accomplished that feat and d’Arnaud is the only one who wasn’t a pitcher. Boom.

Claimed off waivers by Boston from the Atlanta Braves on April 27th, 2017, d’Arnaud made his Red Sox debut on May 7th as a pinch-runner and scored a run in a 17-6 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Two days later, d’Arnaud, then 29, got his first plate appearance with the Red Sox in Milwaukee, when he pinch-hit for Drew Pomeranz in the top half of the sixth inning.

Facing off against Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, d’Arnaud reached on an infield single and came in to score on a Mookie Betts RBI double a few moments later.

The very next half inning, d’Arnaud’s day came to an end with Fernando Abad entering the game in relief of Pomeranz.

d’Arnaud did not appear in another game in any capacity for the Red Sox and on May 18th, he was designated for assignment to make room for right-hander Hector Velazquez.

In total, the California native went 1-for-1 with that single and two runs scored in his brief tenure with the Red Sox. That’s good for an OPS+ of 430 and a wRC+ of 474. Not too shabby when you don’t think about the number of plate appearances. Hall of Fame numbers, really.

So, without taking qualifications into consideration, Chase d’Arnaud really is one of the best hitters the Red Sox have ever seen.

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts Become First Pair of Teammates Ever to Hit 30 Home Runs and 50 Doubles in Same Season

The Red Sox may have gotten blown out 11-3 by the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night, but that did not stop the dynamic left side of Boston’s infield from making history.

That’s right. With his 30th home run off the season off right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the sixth inning on Wednesday, Rafael Devers joined Xander Bogaerts as the only teammates in the history of baseball to hit at least 30 homers and 50 doubles in the same season.

The solo shot, which had an exit velocity of 111.1 MPH and traveled approximately 384 feet off the bat to the right field seats, broke up a no-hitter and put the Sox on the board at 4-1.

Bogaerts picked up his 30th big fly of 2019 in a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on August 28th, his second of two on the night.

According to Red Sox Notes, “Devers is only the 11th player ever with 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, and 100+ runs in a season, all before turning 23 years old.” The players that accomplished that feat before him?

Juan Soto
Miguel Cabrera
Albert Pujols
Alex Rodriguez
Eddie Mathews
Ted Williams
Joe DiMaggio
Hal Trosky
Jimmie Foxx
Mel Ott

Not too shabby of a club to be a member of.

In addition to that:

Devers now joins Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez as the only three Red Sox hitters with 30 or more homers this season. Mookie Betts is two away from reaching that mark with 28 on the year, and it looks like he may have the chance to get to the big 3-0 this weekend in Tampa Bay if he is deemed fit enough to DH.

Despite not making it to the playoffs in what has been a disappointing World Series-defending campaign, the Red Sox lineup has still provided plenty of firepower.