A Red Sox opposition All-Star team
Red Sox All-Star teams have been quite the rage as news is muted over the ongoing labor issues. To honor the All-Star connection, mine will be a bit different and be an All-Star team of players who played against Boston. They will not be the best or the worst, but players who intrigued me. Only one played for the Red Sox.
Flashy, showboating, and a few other negatives were directed at Vic Power. Power won multiple Gold Gloves, and they were well deserved despite his style of play. He could also hit and finished with a .284 career average. A daring and often foolish baserunner who twice stole home twice in a game. 279 career walks offset a free-swinging right-hand hitter with just 247 career strikeouts. Power was a marvel around first base and gets a pile of style points. And the name change story is hilarious.
Lefty-hitting Nellie Fox was short. Fox was listed at a very generous 5’10”, but that would depend on being stretched on the rack. Nellie was a crucial ingredient in the Go-Go Chicago White Sox that won the AL pennant in 1959, and Fox also won the AL MVP for that season. Fox had an ever-present chaw, hitting out of his crouch and making contact. Fox whiffed just 216 times in 10,381 PAs. A multiple Gold Glove winner and 12-time All-Star.
The easy pick would be Brooks Robinson or even the tainted Alex Rodriguez, but a favorite of mine was Clete Boyer. Boyer was part of the great Yankee teams of the early 1960s and certainly a complimentary piece. A solid defender with a knack for getting a crucial hit. Boyer also extended his baseball career with four solid seasons in Japan.
A switch-hitting glove wizard that should be in the HOF. Omar Vizquel is another long line of great shortstops from Venezuela going back to Chico Carrasquel. Vizquel should be hired as a bunting instructor for the Red Sox as Vizquel was great at moving runners along. ” Little O” finished with over 2,800 hits and a tarnished reputation.
Towering Frank Howard was a rarity back in the 1960s based on his height. A right-handed slugger who was primarily an outfielder but did play 334 games at first. A fearsome hitter who twice led the America League in home runs, including hitting 44 in the year of the pitcher (1968). You know just what the formidable Howard was like if you have seen Aaron Judge. Howard was also a former Rookie of the Year (1960) while with the Dodgers.
Mickey Mantle was the best baseball player I ever saw. A five-tool player with incredible speed and raw power. A switch-hitting terror who would even drag a bunt with two strikes. Mantle was more than capable defensively with a solid and accurate arm and excellent ball-hawking skills.
The Toronto Blue Jays won the 1992 and 1993 World Series, and right-hand slugger Joe Carter paved the way. Carter joins my long list of “Why couldn’t Boston get this guy” righty sluggers. Carter tortured Red Sox pitching at Fenway Park.
It’s not the size of the dog, but the fight in the dog, and that was lefty-hitting Clint Courtney. Courtney left a trail of physical confrontations wherever he played, and Billy Martin and Courtney were regulars on the personal fight scene.
Courtney had the nickname “Scrap Iron” for a good reason. Courtney could best be described as a passible regular as a backstop. There was limited power, average defensive skills, and no speed, but no one topped Scrap Iron for grit.
On that historic October 1st game in 1967, I had terrible thoughts since righty Dean Chance was on the hill for the Twins. Chance won 20 games that season and was every bit the hurler Jim Lonborg was. Boston was down 2-0 in the sixth and scored five runs, and the rest is history.
Chance was on track to a HOF career but was done by age-30. Injuries made the former CYA winner just a historical notation. Chances’ bread and butter pitch was a sidearm curve, coupled better than an average fastball, and a quality sinker. Often all were tossed with a Luis Tiant-type motion. Chance was also the worst hitter I ever saw and ended with a .066 batting average.
I heard the Cape Cod League stories about this skinny little lefty who tossed rockets, and that was Billy Wagner. At one game I attended in the CCL, a scout from the O’s said Wagner threw as hard as Steve Dalkowski. Wagner pitched only a few times against the Red Sox since his career was in the National League except for a handful of games with Boston in 2009. So it may be a stretch to place him here, but the guy was a standout.