Red Sox players born on Christmas


The Boston Red Sox have had six players play for them who were born on Christmas. They represent an eclectic group that includes a Hall of Fame player, a recent bullpen hero, one who was a well publicized disgrace, a “Pitching Professor,” a player who became instrumental in Japanese-American baseball of the 1920s and 1930s and a pitcher who won 294 games.

Rickey Henderson joined the Red Sox at age 43, his next to last MLB season, and was a shell of his future HOF self with a slash line of .223/.369/.352 with eight steals in ten attempts. Henderson played in 72 games with 222 plate appearances for Boston before moving on to the Dodgers for his MLB finale.

Hideki Okajima was an afterthought in 2007 with the big catch being fellow countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka. Okie managed to give up a home run on his first MLB pitch as Royals catcher John Buck planted one into deep center. After that the legend of Okie began including an All Star game selection his first year.

Okajima finished his Boston stay with 261 games, all in relief, gathering in six saves with an ERA of 3.11 and a WHIP of 1.25 while finishing 17-8. After a brief stay with Oakland he returned to Japan and the JPL in 2014 going 4-4 in 44 games for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and posting a respectable 2.11 ERA.

More from Red Sox History

The movie “42” brought the infamous Ben Chapman back into the baseball limelight. Chapman’s antics are displayed in the movie and, unfortunately, are rather accurate. Before being a manager Chapman was a player and one with considerable talent finishing with a career .302 average.

Chapman was traded to the Red Sox in June of 1937 and slashed .324/.405/.480 in his nearly two seasons with 40 steals in 58 attempts. Chapman’s calling card was speed and aggressiveness on the bases as he led the AL in steals three times and was a four-time All Star for the Yankees. I imagine the Christmas spirit and fellowship had distinct boundaries with Chapman.

Ted Lewis – the “Pitching Professor” was born in England (Wales, 1872), attended Harvard and played for both Boston teams in his six-year MLB career. Lewis, a right hand pitcher, had two seasons where he won over 20 games for the Boston Braves (Beaneaters). In the inaugural season for the AL, Lewis sauntered over to the Red Sox (Boston Americans) for a final season and an early “retirement” at age 28.

Lewis finished off 1901 with a 16-17 record with an ERA of 3.53 and a WHIP of 1.23 and moved on to a career in academia eventually serving as president of Massachusetts State College and the University of New Hampshire.

Herb Hunter played in only 38 MLB games of which four were for Boston getting a lone hit in 14 plate appearances. Hunter also has the distinction of being born in Boston. Where Hunter left his baseball mark was in his post career days.

Hunter became a college baseball coach and through circumstances became involved in Japanese baseball. Hunter had previous experience as a player on a tour of the orient and later that exposure forged connections with Japan to where Hunter was offered a three-year contract to advise on a new Japanese professional league. Prior to that Hunter was quite active in organizing player tours of Japan.

Lloyd Brown was a left-handed pitcher who played one season of his 12 with the Boston Red Sox and managed to put in a productive career as a player, manager, coach and scout.

In 1933 Brown joined the team and finished with an 8-11 record with a 4.02 ERA and a WHIP of 1.49. Brown made 21 starts for the Red Sox in his total of 33 games. In the off-season Brown was traded to Cleveland for Bill Cissell and what is of note is Brown managed to pitch in the minors until age 50 getting 202 minor league wins. With his 92 MLB wins Brown finished with 294 professional wins.

There have been 67 players born on Christmas and Boston had a small share. Each one had a distinct place in MLB history. A happy birthday to them.