Dustin Pedroia memories from his Boston Red Sox career
Dustin Pedroia has packed it in after producing just 31 at-bats and three hits over the last three seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Enough to slip his career average from .300 to .299. Pedroia was the democracy of baseball as he is certainly not the prototype one would expect from an elite professional player. Pedroia leaves behind many memories and here are a few.
I first saw Pedroia at Pawtucket (AAA) in 2005 and was not overly impressed. A fellow fan said Pedroia reminded him of Eddie Stanky, a gritty diminutive second baseman who was on the Boston Braves for a few seasons.
In 2006, Pedroia hit well with the PawSox but appeared somewhat like a dumpling. When he was called up to the majors, he looked lost and hit just .191. That offseason I heard him speak and he stated he was simply “embarrassed” and “unprepared” and would do better.
In 2007, Pedroia was awful to begin the season. He hit just .182 in April and online was being called PedroiAAA. The thing is, physically he appeared great – the flab was gone. Pedroia was kept in the lineup by Terry Francona and caught fire. Rookie of the Year and a World Series ring. That segues into the World Series.
Pedroia tried to get into Coors Field for Game 3 and was being halted by security. Young, baby faced, sight built, and guards always expect someone pulling a con. Finally, a frustrated Pedroia responds.
"“Ask Jeff f**king Francis who the f**k I am. I’m the guy who hit a bomb and just ended their f**king season.” – Dustin Pedroia via Timblr"
I attended a game at Fenway Park and part of the opening ceremony was for a Little League team. The Red Sox players were on the field and Pedroia is at second when the kid second baseman comes out. The lad is actually taller than Pedroia. It was comical watching Pedroia look up at the kid.
Pedroia was in his car going to a workout when a sports show host called him to ask about his winning the MVP. Pedroia had just been notified by his wife. The host asked what he is now doing? Pedroia said he was going to work out but his wife Kelli asked him to come home for a personal reward for winning the MVP.
Taking those ground balls at second while in recovery. Now that is intense, dedicated, stupid, crazy, and just plain nuts. Maybe a little bit of all? But looking back on that is an indication of why Pedroia has endured multiple surgeries to try and get back on the field.
Several years ago in Hoston for a Red Sox series – the Astros were in the National League at the time. We had gone downtown early afternoon to check out the park, find parking areas, grab a bite to eat, etc. Along comes Francona and two coaches. They can’t find the player’s entrance. We had passed it and gave directions. One of the coaches says, “I hope they don’t try to lock the little guy out. Maybe we’ll beat him to the park?” Pedroia was notorious for his early arrivals.
Back to Coors Field and another road trip. A three-game series in Denver. The last game of the series was a 13-11 Red Sox win with Pedey slamming three home runs. Pedroia had five hits and five RBI and was on the cusp of a hot streak. Then it fell apart. We attended the next game in San Francisco and Pedroia hurt his foot and played only two more games in 2010. The Red Sox were in the hunt for the next week being only a half-game out and then collapsed.
Pedroia was known as the “Muddy Chicken” a nickname that was a partial gift from teammate David Ortiz. Ortiz was devouring a Dominican chicken dish and Pedroia was tired of the nickname “Laser Show.” He commented on the chicken dish as a replacement and the rest is Red Sox history.
Is Pedroia worthy for the Baseball Hall of Fame? In my estimation, he fell three seasons of production shy of getting the “numbers” that are the driver. Injuries cost him that honor. Pedroia will leave with three World Series rings and quite possibly may return to baseball in some capacity.