After winning 97 games as Red Sox manager in 1977 and 98 more the following season, Don Zimmer had nothing to show for it. Both those Boston teams lost AL East Division races to the Yankees, Zimmer’s 1979 Boston ball club had a ten game lead over the Bronx Bombers by mid August and would finally finish ahead of their hated rivals. The problem was however, that the Baltimore Orioles had a four game lead over Popeye’s ball club at the time and Red Sox starting second baseman, Jerry Remy and his talented backup, Jack Brohamer were both out of action with injuries.
Boston GM Haywood Sullivan made a deal with the Cubs to acquire veteran second baseman Ted Sizemore to fill the gigantic hole on the right side of his team’s infield. Sizemore, was born in Alabama but grew up in Detroit. He had been a catcher for the University of Michigan, who had been drafted by the Dodgers in 1966 and converted into a second baseman. He made his big league debut with Los Angeles in 1969 and captured the NL Rookie of the Year Award that season.
Two years later, when the Dodgers were looking for a home run hitter to add to their lineup, they traded Sizemore to the Cardinals for Dick Allen. He was a mainstay in the middle of St. Louis’s infield for the next five seasons. The Dodgers reacquired him in 1976 to fill in for an injured Davey Lopes. He then was traded to the Phillies before landing in Chicago with the Cubs.
He had a terrific debut in Fenway, going 3-3 against the White Sox and driving in 2 runs in a Boston victory. He also filled in admirably at second and hit a productive .261 down the stretch. He was certainly not the reason Boston ended up slumping as a team and finishing 11 games behind a very good Orioles squad. Invited back to the Red Sox 1980 spring training camp, Sizemore made the Opening Day roster as the team’s utility infielder, but ended up losing that job to a young rookie named Dave Stapleton and was released.
He was 35 years-old at the time and decided to retire as a player. He ended up going to work for Rawlings and became an executive with that company.