Another 5:30 am wake up call and on a Saturday morning no less. But it was a small price to pay to go watch the first official full-squad workout. Since it was a Saturday, I went with my dad, and we were on the road by 6. We left so early that there was still some fog on the sides of the alley, and we were able to watch the sun rise behind us and the moon fade in front of us.
I had all of the essentials packed, which includes my big notebook which I have been using since my first Portland Sea Dogs game in 2009 against the Altoona Curve. It was Daniel Nava’s Double-A debut, Luis Exposito DH’d, Adam Mills pitched, and Ryan Kalish had reached base in 18 straight games–not to mention the fact that he hit a two-run homer. Normally my notebook is full of all the papers I accumulated over the summer: scorecards, game notes, etc, but I had put that in a file so I wouldn’t get confused between those and my spring training papers.
For the pitchers and catchers workout, I had made a spread sheet full of statistics for all of the minor league players that I intend on scouting this spring. I also had a document with their mugshots because I memorize statistics, not faces. This time, I brought a list of players that the website “Sox Prospects” wants me to get pictures of. Hardly any of the minor league players on my list were present, but they will be by this time next week.
I was going to bring a scooter this time so that I would be more evenly matched with the complex, but I decided not to since I would be carrying my dad’s fancy camera around. This ended up being good intuition because I finally noticed this sign with some rules on it right before I walked into the complex. Among them was “No skateboarding.”
Initially, I had planned on attempting to kill two birds with one stone: I wanted to check out the minor league workout at the stadium, and then check out the normal one at the Player’s Development Complex. But when I asked the security guards if the minor league players were at the stadium, they did not seem to know what I was talking about. I further investigated this dilemma when I got home, and multiple twitter accounts have corroborated my theory that they had the weekend off.
We arrived at the complex no later than 8:30, but I started to become suspicious around 9:15 when not even the catchers had emerged from the clubhouse. But it was nice to simply walk around the complex in the early morning and feel the wet grass between my toes. It smelled like baseball. Luis Tiant walked out to one of the fields about a half an hour before the players came out, and Jim Rice went up to the NESN booth with Peter Gammons & co.
When the players finally did come out, I was on the wrong side of things. Not that it really mattered much, anyway, as only Lars Anderson stopped to sign on the way out. The catchers did pass where I was standing though.
Again, it was not the best day for autographs and pictures with players because it was the first full squad workout and everyone was figuring out the rotation. While I certainly do enjoy getting pictures with the players, that’s not the reason why I go: I go because I find the drills fascinating.
The players were split up by position, and it even seemed like the everyday players were kept together. I mainly watched the pitching and infield drills. What fascinates me is that these are essentially the same drills that you do in little league, high school, and college. The level of difficulty my change, but the game itself always stays the same.
I think that we take advantage of how good these players really are because they make everything look so easy: whether it is completing a 6-4-3 double play or something as simple as catching a fly ball, it’s not as easy as it seems.
The infield drill that I enjoyed the most was the slow roller one. Lars Anderson was at first base, and Jose Iglesias, Yamaico Navarro, and Nate Spears had to charge the ball and get it over to first.
Then I watched batting practice for a while. I completely ignored the regulars like Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez taking batting practice and instead focused on Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava, Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, and Jose Iglesias taking batting practice.
At one point I was between two fields, hoping to catch players between them, and I said hello to Darnell McDonald as he walked by. I was completely shocked that he remembered me from Tampa. It was a quick “Oh yeah, I remember you,” but it was still a cool moment.
I anticipated the players going back in around 12, so I intended on getting a spot around 11:30. Little did I know that the players were going in around 11:30 instead, so I ended up in a pretty poor spot. After a while, a cleanly-shaven Kevin Youkilis came over and signed for nearly everybody down the line, and I was nearly smushed on my way out.
I was on my way out of the complex when I noticed Jose Iglesias getting his stuff together. A few people were going over for autographs, but by no means was it a mob-scene, so I decided to go over and ask for a picture.
There was, however, a rather large mob of people on my way out, and Mike Cameron was signing autographs for everyone. It was kind of a weird angle for a picture, but he quickly posed for one nonetheless.
So as you can see, the whole getting-pictures-with-players proces
s at the workouts is kind of random, and it has a lot to do with luck. I was able to gauge, however, where they go between drills, so I will do my best to position myself wisely when I go up again tomorrow (Monday). It’s an open house tomorrow, so regardless of whether or not I get anything done at the complex, there will definitely be autograph opportunities (which I will turn into photo opportunities). There are activities all day on the field for little kids, and let’s get real: we all know that the slime making booth at first base is the real reason why I’m going.
I did have my very expired press pass with me on Saturday, but I did not put it to any use. I had intended to try and attend a press conference at the end, but they all seemed to be held at the beginning. Plus the security guards remembered me despite my attempted disguise of straight hair. Honestly, I should just try some these-are-not-the-droids-you’re-looking-for Jedi mind tricks, and see how far I can get.
More stories to come from the Fort tomorrow!
As soon as the game ended, I wanted to come on here and write everything that I was feeling. It would have been the most impulsive, scapegoating article you may have ever read. I tend to forget that the emotions following the end of the season (especially a bad end) come in waves.
postseason debut… the fact that he performed the way that he did as a rookie is astounding. Not to mention the fact that Daniel Bard got out of a bases loaded jam with no outs with minimal damage.
I was in my American Lit. class when the clock struck 1:30. I tensed up and started breathing a little heavier. “Oh my God, Oh my God!” I whispered, checking my phone every ten seconds to see if my father had texted me with any news.
So for the other site that I write for on a weekly basis, MLB Center, as the Red Sox Correspondent, I finally finished the “rough draft” of the article: The Top 10 Red Sox Players of All Time. Not only is it the Top 10 of all Time, but there are some honorable mentions, and some “future stars” as well. I’m sure a lot of you already know some stories about most of these players, but if you have any personal stories (or opinions) that you’d like to share, I think that’d really add to the story. You will of course be quoted in the final story.
Boston Red Sox Players
Elizabeth Dreeson-Red Sox Corespondent
10. Joe Cronin
played for the Red Sox from 1935-1945 with a career .301 batting average, and
2,285 career hits, and the Red Sox retired his number 6. He was an All-Star
seven times, he batted .300 or higher and drove in 100 or more runs eight
times. He was also a manager and general manager for the Red Sox in the ’40’s.
In a memorable fight in 1938, he intercepted Jake Powell when he tried to
charge the mound after being hit in the stomach by Red Sox pitcher Archie
9. Tris Speaker
Speaker played for the Red Sox from 1907-1914 with a career average of .345.
Speaker got the starting center fielder job in 1909 and was part of the
“Million Dollar Outfield” in 1910 along with Duffy Lewis (LF) and Harry Hooper
(RF). Speaker’s best season was 1912, when Fenway Park opened and when the Sox
won the World Series for the second time. He had 222 hits that season and
scored 136 runs. He set a major league record when he had three batting streaks
of twenty or more games (30, 23, and 22).
8. Johnny Pesky
Fenway Park, the foul ball pole in right field is called “Pesky’s Pole”.
According to Pesky, pitcher Mel Parnell coined the nickname because of Pesky’s
legendary, controversial home run in 1948 over the fence near the pole; in
fact, it may have even hit the pole. That home run was one of only six home
runs Pesky ever hit at Fenway Park. He was the first American League player to
score six runs in a nine-inning game. He led the American League in base hits
three times. His career average was .307 and he has been a valuable member of
the Red Sox organization serving as a first base coach in the 70’s (including
the amazing 1975 World Series) and a batting coach to Jim Rice
Foxx played for the Red Sox from 1936-1942 with an astounding .325 career
batting average, 534 home runs, and 2,646 hits. He was nicknamed Double X and
The Beast, and he is the second youngest player of all time to reach 500 home
runs at only age 32, and he was the second player to reach that mark. He had a
spectacular 1938 season with the Sox hitting 50 home runs, driving in 175 runs,
batting .349, and winning his third MVP award. He served as the Red Sox team
captain as well.
6. Wade Boggs
played with the Red Sox from 1982-1992 with a career .328 batting average, and
3,010 hits. He played third base, and appeared in 12 consecutive All-Star
games. His best season was 1987 with a .363 batting average and 89 RBIs. He won
five batting titles throughout his career and batted .349 as a rookie. From
1982-1988 he hit below .349 only once, in 1984 when he batted .325. From
1983-1989 Boggs had 200 hits consecutively each year. He also had six seasons
200 or more hits, 100 or more home runs, and 40 or more doubles.
5. Bobby Doerr
Doerr spent his entire career with Boston; from 1937-1941. He batted .288 with
2,042 career hits. The Red Sox retired his number 1. He led American League
second basemen in double plays five times, he led in put outs and fielding
percentage four times each, and in assists three times. He has an amazing
career fielding percentage of .980. He set Red Sox records for career games
(1,865), at bats (7,093), hits (2,042), doubles (381), total bases (3,270), and
runs batted in. However, these were all later broken by arguably the best
hitter of all time, Ted Williams. Doerr hit for the cycle twice in his career,
and he set a second base record in 1948 by handling 414 chances over 73 games
without an error.
4. Cy Young
Young pitched with the Red Sox from 1901-1908 and is revered as one of the best
pitchers, if not the best pitcher, in the history of the game. He holds the all
time records for wins with 511, 7,355 innings pitched, 2,803 strikeouts, and
749 complete games. His career ERA is 2.38, and his lowest ERA of his career
was 1.26. He has 76 career shutouts, which is fourth all time, and he won at
least 30 games in a season five times, with ten other seasons with 20 or more
wins. He pitched three no hitters, and the first perfect game of baseball’s
“modern era”. He earned the AL Triple Crown for pitchers in his first year in
the American League. Baseball honored Cy Young by naming the award given
annually to the best pitcher of each league.
3. Carlton Fisk
Fisk played for the Red Sox from 1969-1980 as a catcher. He had a career
batting average of .269, and recorded 2,356 hits over his career. In 1972, his
first full year with the Red Sox, he won the AL Gold Glove at catcher, and the
AL Rookie of the Year award. He caught 2,226 career games, more than any other
catcher in history, and was an 11 time All-Star. The most memorable moment of
his career came in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series in the 12th
inning against the Cincinnati Reds. He hit a home run that appeared to be going
foul down the left field line so he started jumping and waving his hands,
willing the ball to be fair. The ball struck the foul ball pole, and the walk
off home run carried the Sox to Game 7. Another memorable Fisk moment was his
fight with Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees. On August 1, 1973 at Fenway
Park, the game was tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth. Thurman attempted to score
by barreling into Fisk, which triggered a ten-minute, bench clearing brawl, and
heightening the tension between the classic rivalry. The left field pole is
called the Fisk Foul Pole, in honor of the 1975 game. Ken Burns, who created a
beautiful series on the decades of baseball, considers that game to have
re-triggered interest in baseball.
2. Carl Yastrzemski
played for the Red Sox his entire career, 1961-1983, and was part of the
“Impossible Dream Team” of 1967. He played outfield primarily, and was known
for his ability to track down flies, but he also played first base and
designated hitter. He batted .285, with 3,419 hits, and 1,844 RBI’s. He also served as a Red Sox captain, and is
the last player in baseball to win the Triple Crown (1967). He was an 18 time
All-Star, a seven time Gold Glover, and was the first American League member of
the 3,000 hit club to hit 400 home runs. He shares the record with Brooks
Robinson of the Orioles for longest career with one team, 23 seasons.
Williams also known as the “Splendid Splinter” or “Teddy Ballgame” is arguably
the greatest hitter of all time. He also played his entire career in Boston,
from 1939-1960 in which he batted .344, batted in 1,839, collected 2,654 hits,
and hit 524 home runs. He played left field for the Red Sox, won the AL MVP
twice, lead the league in batting six times, and won the Triple Crown twice
(1942 and 1947). He is the last player in Major League Baseball to bat over
.400 in one season (.406 in 1941). In fact, his career year was 1941 where he
batted .406, hit 37 home runs, batted in 120 runs and scored 135 runs. He holds
the highest career batting average of anyone with more than 500 home runs. In
the 1946 All-Star game he went 4-4 with two home runs and five RBI’s. In his
last at-bat on September 23, 1960, he hit a home run. The Red Sox retired his
number 9. One of Teddy’s final and most memorable public appearances was at the
1999 All-Star game, when he was brought out to the mound in a golf cart.
“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out
of ten and be considered a good performer”.
Babe Ruth: Every
baseball fan knows the story about Babe Ruth. How in 1918 he was traded to the
New York Yankees for cash to fund the corrupt Red Sox owner’s Broadway show,
and after that year the Sox entered into an 86 year drought in which they came
agonizingly close to a World Series win several time, but never won it. This
became known as the Curse of the Bambino. Babe Ruth was both a pitcher and a
first baseman. He batted a career .342, held the record of 714 home runs for some
time (before it was broken by Hank Aaron) and had 2,873 career hits. As a
pitcher, he had a career 2.28 ERA, with 107 complete games out of only 163
games pitched. Even though he spent the majority of his career with the
Yankees, he is regarded as the greatest player of all time.
Jim Rice played for the Red Sox for his entire career, from 1974-1989, with a
career .298 batting average, 2,452 career hits, and 382 home runs. He was a
captain for the Red Sox, he topped 20 homers 11 times, 100 RBIs eight times,
was an All-Star eight times, hit .300 in seven seasons and he finished in the
top five in the AL MVP voting six times. Also, Rice hit 39-plus homers four
times. During this time most of his stats were leading in the AL. He’s been on
the top ten list in various categories numerous times. This past year he came
sixteen votes away from eternal enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, and he’s on
the ballot for his fifteenth and final at-bat this year.
Tony Conigliaro: Nicknamed Tony C. he played from 1964-1975 with a career batting average
of .264. In his 1964 Rookie season batted .290 with 24 home runs, and in his
1965 he led the league in home runs with 32. On August 18, 1967, in a game
against the California Angels, he was hit by a pitch on his left cheekbone, and
knocked unconscious. He missed the rest of that season; however, in the next
season, he was named Comeback Player of the Year. He was forced to retire
earlier than expected because his eyesight had been permanently damanged.
Jim Lonborg: Jim Lonborg pitched with the Red Sox from 1965-1971. He had a career ERA
of 3.86 with 368 complete games of 425. In 1967, as a part of the Impossible
Dream Team, he led American League pitchers in wins, games started, and
Freddy Lynn: Fred Lynn played for the Red Sox from 1974-1979 as a centerfielder. He
batted .283 with 1,960 hits and 306 home runs. He had an amazing 1975 season in
which he won the Rookie of the Year award as well as the AL MVP award. He was
the first player ever to win both in one season. Lynn and Rice were dubbed as
the “Gold Dust Twins”. In 1975 Lynn also led the league in doubles, runs
scored, and slugging percentage, and finished second in batting average at
.331. On top of that he won a Gold Glove Award. When he was with the Red Sox,
he was elected to the All-Star team every year.
Mike Greenwell: Mike Greenwell played his entire career with the Red Sox, from
1985-1996. He batted .303 with 1,400 hits, and played left field. He was
nicknamed “The Gator” because he wrestled with alligators during the offseason.
In 1988, Greenwell hit .325 with 22 HR, and 119 RBIs, and finished second in
Dwight Evans: Dwight Evans spent his entire career with the Red Sox, from 1972-1991.
He played right field with a batting average of .272. However, Evans was mostly
known for his amazing fielding. He won eight gold gloves and his throwing arm
was among the best in baseball of his time. From 1980-1989, Evans hit more home
runs (256) than any other player in the American League.
Mo Vaughn: Mo
Vaughn also played his entire career with Boston, from 1991-2003. He batted
.293 with 328 home runs and 1,620 hits. He was nicknamed the “Hit Dog” and
played first base for the Red Sox, selected as an All-Star three times, and won
the AL MVP in 1995. In 1995 he established himself the reputation of one of the
most feared hitters in the AL when he hit 39 home runs with 126 RBIs and a .300
batting average. However, his best season with the Red Sox was 1996 when he
batted .326 with 44 home runs and 143 RBIs. From 1996-1998 Vaughn batted .315
or higher, and averaged 40 home runs and 118 RBIs.
Recent Honorable Mentions
Pedro Martinez: In 1999 Pedro finished with a 23-4 record with a 2.07 ERA and 313
strikeouts, which earned him the Pitchers Triple Crown, and the Cy Young Award.
Between August 1999 and April 2000, Martinez had ten consecutive starts with
ten strikeouts. In the 1999 All-Star Game, he became the first pitcher to
strike out the side at an All-Star game. In 2000, he posted a 1.74 ERA, and won
his third Cy Young Award. He finished his career with the Red Sox with a 117-37
record,the highest winning percentage a pitcher has ever had with one team.
Nomar Garciaparra: In 1997 “No-mah” was named Rookie of the Year when he hit 30 home runs
and rove in 98 (which set a new record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter). In 1999
Nomar batted .357, and in 2000 he batted .372. He is one of the few
right-handed batters to win consecutive batting titles. Everyone knows the
tragic ending to this story. We’re sorry Nomar.
Curt Schilling: Schilling was an integral part of the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory.
The most memorable game being Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS where Curt pitched
through seven laborious innings, and blood was visibly seeping into his sock.
He has 3,116 career strikeouts and a career 3.46 ERA.
Jason Varitek: Jason Varitek has played with the Red Sox since 1997, and has been their
starting catcher since 1999. Most importantly he’s been their captain since
2005. He’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game, and he has always
been an important part of the team, and in helping pitchers.
Manny Ramirez: Manny Ramirez had an amazing career with the Red Sox. He’s always had
the reputation of just “being Manny”. His career batting average is .314 and he
hit number 500 at the end of May 2008. He was an important part of both 2004
and 2007 Red Sox victories (he was the MVP in 2004).
David Ortiz: David Ortiz has been Boston’s “Big Papi” since he’s been with them. He
has a career batting average of .287. He also played a major role in leading
the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years. From 2003-2005, 20 of his
home runs were clutch–either tying or giving Boston the lead. He hit .400 in
the 2004 playoffs, and hit a memorable walk-off home run in Game 4 of the
ALCS–the definition of clutch. In 2006 he set a new Red Sox record by belting
54 home runs, three of which were walk off.
Dustin Pedroia: This small second baseman of the Boston Red Sox is in the process of
making a huge name for him. He has won the Rookie of the Year Award, a Gold
Glove, a Silver Slugger Award, the AL MVP, and has had a six year contract
extension all within two years.
There have only been four captains of the Red Sox since 1923: Jimmie Foxx, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and now Jason Varitek. The hall of fame ballots are out yet again, and it is Jim Rice’s final at-bat on this ballot. Just a year ago, Rice came so close to enshrinement, missing only 16 votes! He received 72.2% of votes, and he needed 75%… talk about close! Jim Rice played his entire career with Boston (1974-1989) gave pitchers a sickening feeling when he came to the plate (along with other Red Sox stars like Yaz, Fisk, Lynn, Boggs, Evans, Armas during that era). The left-fielder’s career statistics speak for themselves: