After their historic 2004 postseason, the Red Sox were facing the daunting task of defending their newly acquired World Championship without the pitching talents of either Pedro Martinez or Derek Lowe, who had both departed via free agency that winter. Compounding Boston’s challenge was the fact that after the Red Sox had embarrassed them by coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the ’04 ALCS, the arch-rival Yankees had went out and got Randy Johnson from the Diamondbacks, to strengthen their own rotation.
The Red Sox front office set their sights on former Yankee David Wells, who had spent the ’04 season going 12-8 for the Padres in his hometown of San Diego. Theo Epstein signed the big southpaw to a two year deal and the eccentric Wells, who had been fined when he wore Ruth’s hat during a Yankee game earlier in his career asked for and received the Bambino’s uniform number “3” when he got to Boston. It proved not to be Boomer’s lucky number.
Not only did he lose to Johnson and the Yankees on Opening Day, he went on to lose four of his first six Red Sox decisions and with his ERA approaching seven, Wells was hearing boos from the Fenway faithful. Sports pundits publicly wondered if his best days were behind him. Not yet. He switched his uniform number to “16” and went 13-3 for the remainder of the season, helping Boston capture the wildcard race and return to the postseason.
He underwent knee surgery during the offseason and as he recovered, got homesick and asked the Boston front office to trade him back to a west coast team. He opened ’06 on the DL and by late August with the Red Sox all but eliminated from fall-ball contention, he got his wish and was traded back to the Padres. He hung on for one more season and then retired with an impressive 239-157 record for his 21-season career.
The “Boomer” played in over 2000 games during a solid fourteen-year career as a power-hitting American League first baseman. He was an eight-time Gold Glove winner and a three-time AL All Star. Raised dirt poor in Mississippi, Scott was a three-sport star in high school, who chose a baseball career over college scholarship offers to play hoops and football because he didn’t want to wait another four years before he could begin helping his mother live a better life.
He burst onto the big league scene with Boston in 1966. Originally slated to play third base, he ended up starting at first with fellow Red Sox rookie Joe Foy taking over at the hot corner. Scott belted 27 home runs that first year, drove in 90, made his first All Star team and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting. He also led the AL in strikeouts. One year later he was an integral part of the Miracle Sox team that captured the 1967 AL Pennant.
Most of the Red Sox had off years in 1968 and most of the blame for that went to Red Sox skipper, Dick Williams. It seemed to many observers (and Red Sox players) that after losing the Series to the Cardinals in ’67, Williams’ managerial style went from being a strict disciplinarian to a maniacal dictator. Nobody was more negatively impacted by the change than Scott, who got off to a horrible start that April and remained in the angry skipper’s doghouse the entire season. Williams wrath toward Scott got so bad at one point that Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey took it upon himself to order his manager to play the guy. Scott finished the year with a woeful .171 batting average, but he also won his second straight Gold Glove.
After three more OK seasons, Boston traded him to the Brewers in October of 1971 as part of an 11-player super deal. Scott then had his best year in the big leagues for Milwaukee in 1975 when he set career highs with 36 home runs and 109 RBIs. After slumping the following season, he was traded back to Boston for Cecil Cooper. He blasted 33 home runs in his 1977 return to Fenway but he had a horrible year in ’78 and then started complaining that the Red Sox front office was mistreating him. In June of 1979, he was traded to the Royals. When he couldn’t get along with manager Whitey Herzog, Kansas City released him and the Yanks picked him up at the end of August. He told the press he had wanted to play for the Yankees’ his entire career and proceeded to average .318 during his brief 16-game tenure in pinstripes. He also hit his 271st and final big league home run while wearing the Yankee uniform. New York released him one month after the ’79 season ended and when no other big league team showed an interest in him, he finished his playing career in Mexico. He passed away in July of 2013 at the age of 69.