Ranking the Red Sox shortstops
By Rick McNair
Number Three – Rico Petrocelli
The last day of the 1967 season provided an iconic moment captured on film and forever part of Red Sox history. The final out was a pop-up to Rico Petrocelli at short and Rico is seen waving his arms like he is directing at F-15 on the flight deck. But it was not over. Fans stayed around and listed to the final out of the Tigers game and a Tigers loss to push the Red Sox into the World Series.
That 1967 season was also a breakout for the 24-year-old Petrocelli as he made the All-Star team and provided some decent punch with 17 home runs and 66 RBI. That season ten of those home runs were at Fenway and for the right-hand pull hitting Rico it was a picture of what his career would be.
Petrocelli hit 210 career home runs and 134 were at Fenway Park. In 1969 a new home run record for American League shortstops was set when 40 left the yard and Petrocelli finished seventh in MVP balloting.
Petrocelli will never be included in a list of great Red Sox defensive shortstops, but he was more than capable of superior positioning and an exceptionally strong arm. In 1971 Boston had the opportunity to acquire Luis Aparicio – a HOF caliber player – and Rico moved over to third for the rest of his career – all in Boston.
By age 33 Rico was finished and injuries were the reason, including a horrific beaning, elbow surgery and constant hamstring issues, but one last significant contribution remained and that was the 1975 World Series and a .308 average with four RBI.