Right-hand hitters the Boston Red Sox missed out on.
The Boston Red Sox lineup has always had a special spot of desire for that rare baseball commodity known as a right-handed slugger. Boston has had their share through the decades and the desire had encouragement – a left-field barrier known as “The Green Monster.” The wall became an obsession with fans and management, especially when the home run manifested itself as the baseball exclamation point.
One of Tom Yawkey’s first significant moves was to get such a hitter and Thomas struck baseball gold with Jimmie Foxx. This was the right-hand version – or close to it – of Babe Ruth for the left side and later Ted Williams for his own Red Sox.
As a young Red Sox fan getting older and wiser to the ways of baseball, I would see those right-handed gems coming into Fenway Park with that tantalizing target in left field. So I have a possible wish list from the dismal 1950s and into the present of why can’t we get these guys? I also have a few that made it to Boston when their playing days were numbered.
When I first saw Jim Rice at Pawtucket and later in Boston, I thought immediately of Rocky Colavito. Colavito slammed 374 home runs in a 14-year MLB career and 26 of them were at Fenway Park. A .266 hitter over his career, that figure jumped to .309 at friendly Fenway. Like Jim Ed for the Red Sox, Colavito was a DP machine since he would hit the ball on the nose, but it seemed every time he came to the plate in Boston it was a line drive.
Before there was Aaron Judge there was Frank Howard a behemoth of baseball at 6’7” and a tight end body type of 260 lbs. Howard played 73 games at Fenway and hit 18 home runs and that is not a staggering number for a player who twice led the AL in home runs. Howard – like Judge – had an incredible fear factor.
Joe Carter is noted for walk-off home run fame, but he just loved Fenway to the tune of 22/60/.312 in just 79 games. One of the players I thought Boston should have made a serious free-agent run at in 1992 – 1993.
Worth the price of a ticket just to watch batting practice and Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew was the master of towering home runs – blasts that appear to be higher than the light towers. Killebrew’s number at Fenway was spectacular with 37 home runs and 107 RBI. A career .256 hitter the member of the Baseball Hall of Fame hit .316 at Fenway.
In 75 games in the lyrical little bandbox, Jose Bautista slammed 26 home runs and it appeared every series against the Jays saw one added to that growing list. When you speak of Joey Bats you also think of who David Ortiz thought would be a fine replacement for a retiring Papi – Edwin Encarnacion. A total of 20 home runs in 66 games.
You mention the name Hank Bauer and a few may have the name click – usually something about the New York Yankees. Bauer had a blockhouse build and I always considered him an under radar Yankee. At Fenway, Bauer played 123 games slashing 19/75/.282.
Then there is the torture inflicted upon Red Sox pitchers by Frank Robinson – mostly from his days with the O’s. In 62 games, Robby hit .350 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI. All accomplished in 217 at-bats.
Sometimes the Red Sox do get that coveted hitter and in the case of Don Baylor, the baseball gas tank was approaching empty when he was brought to town to DH. In less than two seasons (268 games) Baylor still hit 47 home runs.
If you can’t play the field you can always DH as long as you are in the AL. What happens if you can’t run or field but can still slug? When the DH became part of the landscape Orlando Cepeda suddenly became valuable despite cranky knees and tortoise speed. Orlando became Boston’s first DH and did the job with a .289 average and 20 home runs. But he was a liability scoring only 51 runs and grounding into 24 DPs. Time had taken a toll. In his prime, Cepeda would have been something at Fenway.
Roy Sievers had a hitting penchant for Fenway Park and looking at the evidence that backs it up. Sievers played 110 games at Fenway and hit.327 with 25 home runs and 87 RBI. Back in the pre-free agent days, this was certainly a possibility to get Sievers, especially from Washington.