January 28 – Happy Birthday Pete Runnels

In one of the better trades in franchise history, the Red Sox got Pete Runnels from the Senators in January of 1958 in exchange for outfield prospect, Albie Pearson and Boston’s backup first baseman, Norm Zauchin. Runnels had spent the first seven seasons of his big league career playing three different infield positions for Washington and averaging .274. He would spend the next five years starting for the Red Sox, mostly at first base and win two American League batting titles. In fact, this native Texan never hit below .314 during his half-decade in a Boston uniform. Runnel’s also had a keen batting eye which helped him compile a robust .405 on-base-percentage as a Red Sox. His biggest weakness was a lack of power and since he hit from the left side, Fenway Park’s cavernous right field did nothing to help that situation. Instead, following the advice of the great Ted Williams, he learned how to slice line drives the opposite way off the much closer Green Monster. He made three All Star teams as a Red Sox and he won his batting titles in 1960 (.320) and 1962 (.326). Ironically, the latter was his final season in Boston. In an effort to add more right-handed power to their lineup, the Boston front office traded Runnels to the Colt .45’s in November of 1962 in exchange for Houston’s top home run hitter, Roman Meijas. By the time he suited up for his new team, Runnels was already 35 years old and at the end of his career. He ended up getting released by Houston in May of his second season with the team. Though Boston’s timing in dealing Runnels turned out to be almost perfect, their evaluation of Meijas’ ability was completely wrong and he ended up being a bust as a Red Sox.

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