Red Sox History: A look at 1945 and 2022 Red Sox miseries
The 1945 Red Sox had a war for a roster excuse
What does this current Boston Red Sox disaster remind me of from the past? I read a box score and have no idea where this guy who is now on the hill or holding down a position came from.
Baseball stayed alive in World War II thanks to cobbling together a roster of 4F players, career minor league players, and veterans who were called back into service, not for their country but for baseball. The minor leagues were gutted as most closed down operations, but MLB continued to strive forward with a forgettable product.
1942-1945 started with a 93-win season in 1942 and a second-place finish. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Charlie Wagner were still around, but not for long. By 1945, the Red Sox sunk to seventh place, winning 71 games.
The Red Sox brought on board the roster 38-year-old Dolph Camilli, the 1941 National League MVP, whose game had fallen victim to age. Camilli hit just .212 in 63 games.
Jackie Tobin joined the team and hit .252 with no run production and just 21 RBI in 83 games. That was Tobin’s only MLB season, but he hung around the minors for another dozen years.
Right-hand hitting Bob Johnson had a career renascence with the Red Sox and led the team with 12 home runs. Johnson was 39 years old with a solid 13-year career, but 1945 was the end. Catcher Bob Garbark was a career minor league player who hit .261 with no home runs. Grabark’s professional career was done after 1945.
The pitching staff can be summed up by starter Emmett O’Neill (8-11, 5.15), who would be gone after a few games in 1945 with the White Sox. Randy Heflin (4-10, 4.06) would appear in five games in 1946 for his MLB career. Righty Mike Ryba notched seven wins at age 42. In 1946, Ryba got into nine games. Dave Ferriss (21-10, 2.96) was the critical starter and would win 25 games in 1946 before injuries set in.
Those mentioned were just a sample of what happened primarily in 1943-1945, not only in Boston but across the MLB landscape. The St. Louis Browns won the AL pennant in 1944 with 16 4F players, even the perennial losers had their one lone success. The following season they have Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder on their roster.
Now we have 2022.
This satirical comic strip Li’l Abner had a character named Joe Btfsplk, who was the world’s worst jinx. Btfsplk was portrayed with a perpetual black cloud hovering over his head. That is the Red Sox for the last month. Injuries, poor performances, sloppy defense, erratic pitching, contractual issues, management decisions, and managerial decisions have created the perfect storm for failure.
As with WW II, the team has been forced to go to the scrap yard, even re-signing Danny Santana. The revolving door that has seen Travis Shaw, Michael Feliz, and Yolmer Sanchez get their shot at failure. Plenty more managed to get to The Show.
Looking for a positive, you occasionally get rewarded with a Rob Refsnyder balanced out with the gloom and doom of watching Franchy Cordero and Jeter Downs making a case for a Triple-A career.
There will be a housecleaning as the Red Sox has several pending free agents and possible high-profile trade candidates. Chaim Bloom will have his work cut out for him, and the team’s poor performance in 2023 could be the end of the Bloom era. You may see this 2022 team have the same shakeup as the 1945 war-ravaged roster.
The 1945 Red Sox was a dull team with poor performance in all aspects of the game, but 1946 would be different. They easily won the AL pennant, but this 2023 team will not have Williams, Doerr, and Pesky coming through the door.