Pete Runnels could be at second base, but he belongs at first base where he did the most damage – mostly with his bat, but some with his glove. Runnels won two batting titles while with the Red Sox – one as a second baseman and one as a first baseman. In five seasons the compact lefty-hitting Runnels hit .320 for Boston. From my own observations, defensively Runnels covered as much ground as a postage stamp but he could hit.
Runnels was traded to Houston after winning a batting title but returning to his native Texas was no career builder and in two seasons Runnels was gone from MLB, but not from baseball. Runnels – a favorite of Tom Yawkey – returned as a coach for the Red Sox in 1965 and that is where history takes over. Late in the 1966 season, the Red Sox fired manager Billy Herman.
With Herman gone the Red Sox needed an interim manager and that was Runnels. Runnels filled in and was 8-8 and encouraged to apply for the position for 1967. Runnels had a history of ulcers and probably figured the best way to aggravate the condition was being a manager. He declined and the Red Sox hired Dick Williams.