Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Didn't Know He Played For: Boston Red Sox

This is the third article in the series "I didn't know he played for..."  Don't forget to check out the first two articles in the series:  Reading, PA and the Baltimore Orioles.

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most successful teams in the history of the game.  Starting with their win in the first ever World Series through their stunning 2013 win the Red Sox are essential to telling the history of the game.  Along with that healthy history comes an association of key players wearing the Red Sox uniform:  Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, David Ortiz and many more.

Here are some players throughout the history of the organization you may have forgotten or never knew they wore the crimson hose:

Fred Mitchell:
As the Tinker, Evers and Chance era in Chicago ended, Fred Mitchell took over.  Each of the famous double play combo had taken a chance at the top of the team but only Chance was truly successful as a manager.  In 1917, Fred Mitchell took over as manager ending the most successful era of Cubs baseball officially.  Mitchell would manage the Cubs for four years, including an appearance in the 1918 World Series.  Before he became a manager Fred Mitchell  was a mediocre (to be kind) pitcher, his best year coming in 1903 with the Phillies (11-16, 4.48).  His professional career started with Boston in the newly formed American League.  Boston finished 6 games behind the White Sox in that first AL year and Mitchell went 6-6.  Apparently Boston thought little of his potential since after just 1 appearance (0-1, 11.25 ERA) he was "loaned" to the Philadelphia Athletics for the rest of the season.

Nick Altrock:
Nick Altrock came to be known as the "Clown Prince" of baseball for the comedy acts he would perform at stadiums around the American League after he retired.  Before that he was known as the White Sox ace on the staff of their first World Series winner in 1906.  Altrock had three straight tremendous years pitching for the Pale Hose but first he wore socks of a different color.  Altrock pitched in a total of four games for Boston (3 in 1902 and 1 in 1903).  In July of 1903 his contract was sold to the White Sox. The Red Sox would go on to win the World Series based on the pitching of their stars Bill Dinneen and Cy Young.  Altrock would go on to help the "Hitless Wonders" of Chicago beat the powerful crosstown Cubs.

Eddie Cicotte:
Eddie Cicotte, in the words of the Three Amigos, is "more than famous, he's infamous".  Cicotte will forever be known as the ace of the Black Sox staff.  He was one of the leaders of the World Series fix and one of the few who were known to have gotten paid what they asked.  But before his socks where white or black they were crimson.  Cicotte played four full seasons and part of a fifth in Boston before moving on to Chi-town.  He left Boston with a 52-46 record and 2.69 ERA.  In July of 1912, as the Red Sox rode the arm of Smokey Joe Wood to a pennant, they sold Cicotte to the White Sox where he would meet up with his co-conspirators.

Bill Wambsganns

Known to his teammates as "Wamby" for obvious reasons, Bill Wambsganns did something in the 1920 World Series that no one before or after him accomplished.  He turned an unassisted triple play.  But Wamby's career was more than that.  He was the double play partner of Ray Chapman.  He was a base stealing threat for the Indians first World Series Champions.  And, what few remember, he played for the Red Sox.  Wamby played 13 years in the league, 10 of those in Cleveland.  In January 1924 as Cleveland started to look for a younger group, Wamby was sent to the Red Sox along with Dan Boone, Joe Connelley and Steve O'Neill.  In exchange the Tribe received George Burns, Chick Fewster and Roxy Walters.  He played two full years with Boston but with the team still reeling from the fire sale to the Yankees there was little success.

Joe Judge:
When the Washington Senators were finally able to overcome that old joke about Washington (First in War, First in peace and Last in the American League) and win the American Leaue pennant two straight years, Joe Judge was their power hitting First Baseman in the middle of the lineup.  As that group of players started to age the Senators went with a youth movement and Judge was dispensed with.  He landed in Brooklyn for part of 1933 before being released.  After playing 2084 games in the Nation's capital and 42 in Brooklyn, Judge finished his career with 45 games in Boston (35 in 1933 and 10 in 1934).

Nels Potter:
As the Red Sox started to build their young team around Williams, Doerr, Pesky and DiMaggio, pitching always seemed to be the missing element.  Turns out they may have had it and let it get away.  Nels Potter was 22-41 in his five seasons with the Athletics but the record was partially a reflection of the terrible team behind him in Philadelphia.  The Red Sox purchased Potter's contract during the 1941 season where he went 2-0 in finishing 6 games.  He was sent to AA Louisville for the 1942 season and before returning to the Red Sox was chosen by the St.Louis Browns in the Rule 5 draft.  In 1944 as the Browns were charging to their first (and only) pennant, Potter was the ace of the staff winning 19 games.

Ken Keltner:
Ken Keltner had a long and successful career.  He is known as the man who stopped Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak.  He made 7  All Star Games and when the Indians won the 1948 World Series Keltner was the lineup's power.  He played 1526 games in his career.  1513 of those were with the Tribe.  As the Indians groomed young Al Rosen to take over at Third Base Keltner's playing time dipped.  At the end of the 1949 season Keltner was released and Rosen named the full time Third Baseman.  Keltner signed with the Red Sox who were looking for one last piece to put them ahead of the Yankees (they had lost to the Yanks on the final day of the 1949 season). He saw action in only 13 games.  He hit .321 in that time but his power was gone.  He had 0 Home Runs and drove in only 2.  By June 6 Keltner was released and gone from the game as a player.

Bobby Thomson
Bobby Thomson hit one of the most famous Home Runs in history, certainly the most famous in the Dodgers-Giants rivalry.  After leaving the Giants he played several years with the Braves in Milwaukee.  At the end of his time there he was sent back to the Giants for Red Schoendienst, who jump started the Braves to their only World Series title in Milwaukee.  Thomson then spent some time with the Cubs before being sent to the Red Sox before the 1960 season.  He played 40 games for Boston that year before being released in June.  He hit .263 there that year with 5 Home Runs but the Red Sox were starting to move toward a youth movement as Williams got ready for his final year.

Wilbur Wood

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Wilbur Wood was the face of the Chicago White Sox.  The team was not very competitive as the AL West was dominated by the A's and Royals (and even the Twins for a while).  For four straight years (1971-1974) Wood won more than 20 games.  He finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting three times and made three All Star Games.  Before he became a star in Chicago, he was starting his career in Boston.  From the end of the 1961 season to the middle of the 1964 season Wood wore Red Sox not White Sox.  In his four years in Boston, Wood had a total record of 0-5.  In September of 1964 his contract was sold to the Pirates who would eventually trade Wood to the White Sox.

Tim McCarver
Tim McCarver is of course known today as the play by play announcer for FOX over the last several decades (and ABC before that).  Before heading into the broadcast booth McCarver was known for being an All Star Catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals when they dominated the mid 1960s and later for the Phillies in the mid 1970s. What few know is that after leaving the Cardinals he made a stop in Boston.  After leaving St.Louis he was sent to Philadelphia who then sent him to Montreal and a brief stop back in St. Louis.  In September 1974 the Red Sox purchased McCarver's contract as an insurance policy for an often injured Carlton Fisk.  He played in 11 games that year and stayed with the team to start 1975 and played 12 games with the team before being released.  He was signed by the Phillies where he would end his career.

Juan Marichal
The Hall of Famer Dominican Dandy made nine All Star Games, won 242 games and was the first Giants' ace on the west coast.  As the Giants offensive stars of Mays, McCovey and Cepeda moved on the talent level at Candlestick needed a revamp.  Marichal became expendable.  In December of 1973 the Giants sold Marichal's contract to the Red Sox.  Marichal pitched in 11 games for the Sox and went 5-1 but was released in October of that year.

Jack Clark:

Jack Clark played for the Giants at the time Frank Robinson was the manager and was known for being in Frank's doghouse.  He was an All Star Firstbaseman and went on to be an All Star for the Cardinals in the late 1980s.  He had a well known big contract from the Yankees who were less than pleased with his results and shipped him to San Diego.  What few people remember is that he finished his career with the Red Sox.  Clark signed as a free agent for the 1991 season but couldn't help the Red Sox repeat as AL East Champs.  He hit only .249 but did blast an impressive 28 Home Runs.  Clark stuck around for the 1992 season but hit only .210 with 5 Home Runs.  His playing time dripped to 80 games as Boston got ready for their new young star, Mo Vaughn.

Frank Viola:
Frank "Sweet Music" Viola pitched the Twins to the 1987 World Series.  Two years later the Twins were looking to rebuild.  They traded Viola to the Mets in a shocking blockbuster trade that netted Minnesota Rick Aguilera, David West and Kevin Tapani.  Viola would be part of a dysfunctional, expensive and underachieving Mets team that imploded.  After the 1991 season Viola became a free agent and signed with the Red Sox.  During the 1992, 1993 and 1994 seasons Viola was 25-21 but this was the era of the Blue Jays and the Sox were not able to make the playoffs.  Viola left for Cincinnati following the strike year but was never able to pitch another full year.

Byung Hyun Kim

The press had a field day with Byung-Hyun Kim.  Their jokes were constant.  When Kim gave up game winning Home Runs in back to back games during the 2001 World Series he was devastated and it was seen by the entire world.  The headlines were brutal.  "Byung Hung a Curve", "There's No Crying in Baseball". Although the Diamondbacks went on to win the World Series over the Yankees, his career was remembered for two pitches.  But did you remember that Byung-Hyun Kim actually continued on a fairly successful career afterwards?  He stayed with Arizona through 2002 and the first part of 2003.  In late May 2003 with the Red Sox looking for a closer, they sent infielder Shea Hillenbrand to Arizona in exchange for Kim.  Kim would have a decent year working out of the pen going 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA.  Kim would appear in the ALDS for the Red Sox against the A's and would throw 2/3 of an inning.  Heading into the bottom of the 9th in Game 1 with a 4-3 lead Kim was brought in to protect the lead.  He faced four batters.  The first batter flew out to left field.  He then walked the second batter, hit the third with a pitch and struck out Mark Ellis.  With two out he was replaced by Alan Embree who gave up a run scoring single to tie the game.  The run was charged to Kim.  Kim stayed with Boston for 2004 but appeared in only 7 games.

Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez is a supestar in this league without question.  He was the 2006 Rookie of the Year, three time All Star, a batting champion, two time Silver Slugger winner and has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three times (finishing second to Albert Pujols in 2009). Ramirez has done most of this with the Marlins (where he wore out his welcome and forced a trade) and the Dodgers.  This season he signed with the Red Sox, although it could be called a return, as Ramirez was once a member of Red Sox nation.  As a late season call up from the minor leagues in 2005, Ramirez appeared in 2 games.  He went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts in those two games.  In November of 2005 the Red Sox sent Ramirez, along with Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia and Anibal Sanchez to the Marlins.  In exchange they got Guillermo Mota, Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett.  Despite the way Beckett's time in Boston ended most Red Sox would likely say the trade was a success, with Lowell and Beckett both playing a big role in the 2007 World Series title.

Justin Masterson

Over the last few seasons Justin Masterson had developed into the ace of the Indians' pitching staff.  As the tribe began to rebuild they did so with Masterson in mind (until they traded him at the deadline this year).  Just as they have with Hanley Ramirez, Boston has brought Masterson back in to the fold, resigning him this offseason. Masterson debuted with the Red Sox in 2008 and appeared in a few post season games for the Sox.  Masterson even won Game 5 of the ALCS in relief against Tampa Bay.  As the Red Sox tried to make a push for the playoffs in 2009, they were looking for offense.  They sent Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to the Indians in exchange for Victor Martinez.  It didn't quite work out the way Red Sox fans had planned.  They missed the 2009 post season.

Byung Hyun Kim gave up Home Runs in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees.  These three famous Home Runs were hit by three key members of the Yankees dynasty and allowed the Yankees to take a 3 games to 2 lead in the Series.  What three Yankee legends hit these Home Runs?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
The Orioles traded for First Baseman Glenn Davis before the start of the 1991 season.  Davis hurt his back before ever playing a game for the Orioles and due to the injury was never truly effective.
The players given up by the Orioles went on to strong careers.

Curt Schilling made 6 All Star Games (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004) and was a member of World Series teams with the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

Pete Harnisch, at one point considered the best player given up in the trade, made only one All Star Appearance in 1991, although he pitched in the league for another ten years.  Harnisch had several very strong years with the Astros, Mets and Reds but only made the All Star team once.  He did not reach a World Series.

Steve Finley made an impact in every city he played and was one of the most under rated outfielders of his time.  Finley would play in the post season with the Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Angels and hit one of the biggest Home Runs in Dodgers history.  He was a member of the 1998 Padres World Series team and the 2001 Diamondbacks World Series team.  Finley was a tremendous defensive outfielder and won 5 Gold Gloves.  Surprisingly, he only made two All Star teams in 1997 and 2000.

That gives us 6 for Schilling, 2 for Finley and 1 for Harnisch.  Davis had made two All Star Games (1986 and 1989) before being traded to Baltimore.  He made 0 after the trade.


  1. It is amazing the number of good players who you associate with certain teams that play for other teams when their career is winding down.
    Was their a Rule 5 draft way back then? I thought that that was a brand new mechanism.
    The biggest surprise for me is Juan Marichal.
    I saw Hanley Ramirez play in the Eastern League as a member of the Red Sox Double A team. I remember him as a tall shortstop with an attitude. The attitude was somewhere between confidence and cockiness. Because of how I viewed him in the minor league I was never a fan of his.

    Trivia question is a good one this week. I feel confident on 2. The 2 are Boone and Jeter. My guess on the third player is Posada.


  2. What's Rule 5? Also, do you wonder what would've happened if Boston hadn't traded Cicotte and had kept him on? That would mean no Black Sox scandal since he would've never gone to Chicago, but does that necessarily mean that the cheating would've never happened?

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Not having Cicotte in Chicago probably would not have changed the scandal but it certainly may have changed the way it played out. There had been rumors as well that the Cubs of 1918 had thrown the series and for anyone who wants to read more about that theory I suggest "The Original Curse: Did the Cubs Throw the 1918 World Series to Babe Ruth's Red Sox and Insite the Black Sox Scandal" by Sean Deveney.

      The cheating within the game was prevalent enough that someone would have gotten caught, and in fact, the Grand Jury that investigated the Black Sox started because of a rumored fix of a meaningless regular season game between the Cubs and Phillies. For more information about the Black Sox Fix check out the article baseball eras posted back in May 2013


Have questions about something in this or a former post? Have a suggestion for a future post? Want more information on a specific team, player, season or game? I welcome the feedback, so feel free to leave a comment in the box or email me at baseballeras (at) gmail (dot) com.