May 13 – Happy Birthday Larry Gardner

GardnerAfter an idyllic childhood growing up in Enosburg Falls, Vermont and an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Vermont, Larry Gardner became one of the great third basemen in Boston Red Sox history, winning three World Championships in the process. It was his sacrifice fly off of Christy Matthewson in the eighth and final game of the 1912 Fall Classic that won the title for Boston.

Gardner spent all or parts of ten seasons as a Red Sox and started at the hot corner for seven of them, from 1911 through 1917. He was a solid hitter, averaging .289 during his 17-year big league career and a very good defensive third baseman. He was also a talented tenor, who became part of the famous Red Sox Barbershop Quartet, that sang professionally during the pre WWI years.

When his average went from .308 in 1916 to .265 the following season, the Red Sox front office traded him to the A’s. A season later he was dealt to Cleveland and during his second year with the Tribe, his .310 average and 118 RBI’s led the Indians to their first World Series victory and Gardner’s fourth.

He then had his best big league season in 1921, averaging a career high .319 and driving in 120 runs. By then, however, he was 35 years old and slowing down accordingly. He hung on with Cleveland until 1924 and then tried managing in the minors. He wold eventually return to his home state and become the long-time baseball coach and then athletic director of his beloved alma mater.

Gardner held the all-time record for most starts at third base by a Red Sox until Frank Malzone surpassed him. Wade Boggs is the current record holder. Gardner died in 1986 at the age of 89.

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