Category: Dailies

June 15 – Happy Birthday Wade Boggs

boggs-87tOnly Ted Williams has a higher Red Sox lifetime batting average than the .338 figure Boggs hit during his 11-seasons playing in Beantown. Wade won five batting titles as a Red Sox and had seven straight 100-run, 200-hit seasons. Although he had some notorious extra marital exploits off the field, nobody was more focused or more driven on a baseball field than Boggs. The thought of him in a Yankee uniform was literally beyond the realm of anyone’s imagination, but in 1992, Boggs hit just .259 in the final year of his Red Sox contract. That was the first time in the eleven seasons he’d been in the big leagues that he failed to hit .300. The fall-off was just enough to dissuade the Red Sox front office from going all-out to re-sign their All Star third baseman. The angry Boggs signed with the Yankees instead. He proceeded to win his first two Gold Gloves plus his one and only World Series ring, while averaging .313 during his four seasons in pinstripes. After finishing his career and getting his 3,000th hit as a Devil Ray, Boggs was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Boggsy was born in Omaha, NE on June 15, 1958.

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June 14 – Happy Birthday Luis Aponte

515+Z33jqvL._SY300_This Venezuelan reliever and an obscure outfielder from the late 1950’s named Herb Plews are the only two players we could find on the Red Sox All-Time roster who were born on Flag Day. Luis Eduardo Yuripe Aponte was signed by Boston in 1973. He spent the next four years trying to make it up the ladder of the Red Sox farm system but couldn’t, so he “retired.” But instead of quitting all together, this right-hander began pitching in the Inter-American League where he developed a new pitch in the form of a very effective fork ball. That fork ball not only got him re-signed by Boston, it got him to the Major Leagues.

After two short but successful trials with the parent club in 1980 and  ’81, Aponte became a regular part of manager, Ralph Houk’s Red Sox bullpen in ’82 and ’83. He appeared in 40 games during his first full season in the big leagues, going 2-2 with 3 saves. He then went 5-4 in 1983 with 3 more saves and a decent 3.63 ERA. His Red Sox career ended during the 1984 spring training season, when he was traded to Cleveland for two minor leaguers. After pitching in 25 games for the Indians that year, his big league career was over. He eventually became a scout for the Cleveland organization. Aponte was born in El Tigre, Venezuela in 1953.

June 13 – Happy Birthday Mel Parnell

tumblr_m1a6owGyqX1qcw9y0o1_400“Dusty” was the ace left-hander of the Red Sox pitching staff from 1948 to 1953 when a sore elbow began slowing him down. He used his great fastball and a self-taught slider to go 109-56 during those six seasons, winning 20 games twice and throwing 20 shutouts. While Fenway’s Green Monster destroyed the careers of many Boston lefties, Parnell thrived in Boston’s home park. Only Roger Clemens and Cy Young won more games in a Red Sox uniform. He retired after the 1956 season. Longtime Red Sox fans can remember “Marvelous Mel” broadcasting Boston games during the team’s miraculous drive to the 1967 World Series. Parnell was born in New Orleans on this date in 1922.

June 12 – Happy Birthday Damon Buford

1308-374FrBoston got Buford and catcher Jim Leyritz in the 1997 trade with Texas for Aaron Sele. Buford impressed Boston fans his first season, hitting .282 and smacking 10 home runs in just 86 games. But he slumped to .242 the following year and was then traded to the Cubs for Manny Alexander. Buford was born on this date in 1970, in Baltimore, where his Dad Don was an outfielder for the Orioles.

June 11 – Happy Birthday Brock Holt

UnknownBoston Super-Sub, Brock Holt was originally a ninth-round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2009 MLB Draft. He came to Boston as part of the six-player deal that sent reliever Mark Melancon to the Pirates in December of 2012. After spending most of his first season as a Red Sox with Pawtucket, Holt became Manager John Farrell’s super-sub in 2014, appearing in every position on the field except pitcher and catcher.

A native of Texas, Holt played one year of college ball at Rice before being drafted. He currently is leading the Red Sox in batting average and has become a Fenway fan favorite because of his hustle and willingness to play anywhere.

 

November 24 – Happy Birthday Billy Rogell

Long before the Red Sox got rid of Nomar Garciapara they gave up on another great shortstop. His name was Billy Rogell. Unlike Nomar however, who first became a star during his playing days in Boston, Rogell was never given much of a chance to do the same. Instead, the Springfield, IL native’s mentors in Boston almost ruined his career before it got started.

Rogell was a switch hitter but when he made his big league debut with the Red Sox in 1925, Boston’s Manager, Lee Fohl wanted him to bat exclusively right handed. Fohl’s reasoning was that Rogell had enough power right handed to pepper Fenway’s Green Monster with line drives. Instead, the move almost derailed the young shortstop’s career before it ever got started.

That 1925 Boston team finished 47-105 with Rohl averaging just .195. After that miserable debut, Rogell did not make it back to Fenway until the 1927 season. Bill Carrigan had taken over as the team’s manager and he started Rogell at third that year. Billy hit .266 but the Red Sox again lost over 100 games. When his average dipped into the .230s the following season, the Red Sox released him and he was picked up by the Tigers.

After another slow start in Detroit, Rogell got his Major League legs underneath him and gradually gained confidence in the field and especially in the batter’s box. By 1932 he was starting at short for the Tigers. He and second baseman Charlie Gehringer quickly grew into one of the League’s best middle infield duos and helped the Tigers become a powerhouse team of the 1930s winning two pennants and the 1935 World Series.

Rogell played until 1940, retiring with a .267 lifetime average. After his playing days, he got into politics and became a MoTown council member for 30 years. He died in 2003 at the age of 98.

 

 

November 23 – Happy Birthday Luis Tiant

If you’re younger than the age of 30, you probably never saw “El Tiante” pitch in the Major Leagues. That’s your loss. This guy was one of the most entertaining and skilled starting pitchers of his era. I remember his incredible 1968 season when he won 21 games for Cleveland. He was the ace of a very strong Indians’ pitching staff that led the AL with 23 shutouts, nine of which were thrown by Tiant. Cleveland won a total of 83 games that season and in over a quarter of those victories they shutout the opposition.

Tiant’s career was then almost derailed by a rash of injuries and he actually was released by both the Twins and the Braves before he found his true home with the Red Sox. After an inauspicious start in Beantown, when Tiant went 1-7 in 1971, he won 121 games during the next seven years, including three 20-victory seasons and won the hearts of Red Sox fans in the process. It was Tiant’s two-hit shutout against the Blue Jays that got the Red Sox into the 1978 one-game playoff for the AL East crown. I still say if the Red Sox could have started this guy instead of Mike Torrez in that next game, Bucky Dent’s heroics never would have happened. Tiant pitched his very best at the the biggest of moments.

In 1979, Tiant joined the Yankees as a free agent and pitched very well for a team torn apart first by management issues and then by the tragic death of their captain, Thurman Munson. Tiant won 13 games that season including his 49th and final career shutout. He fell to 8-9 the following year and the Yankees let him go.

Tiant finished his 19-year big league career with a 229-172 record, a 3.30 ERA and 49 shutouts. He belongs in Cooperstown. He was was born on November 23, 1940, in Marianao, Cuba. He shares his birthday with recently departed Red Sox closer Jonathan Papalbon, who took his 219 career saves and deserted Red Sox Nation for a $50 million contract with the Phillies.