Monthly Archives: September 2009

Happy Birthday, Orlando Cepeda!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda was a 7 time All Star, Rookie of the Year with the Giants and MVP with the Cardinals. Cepeda hit over 350 home runs with the Giants, Cardinals and Braves before he arrived in Boston in 1973. He had a three game tour with the Oakland Athletics in 1972, but didn’t record a hit in his three at bats. Cepeda had planned on retiring after the 1972 season, but the addition of the Designated Hitter to the American League changed all that.

It’s fitting that we’re celebrating Orlando Cepeda’s birthday only 2 days after David Ortiz set the all time record for most home runs as Designated Hitter. The 1973 season saw the addition of the DH to lineups throughout the American League and Orlando Cepeda was the first player to sign a contract to play solely as designated hitter.

In a season where the Red Sox were 8 games out of first place, Cepeda provided some highlights with a 20 HR season as the first Red Sox DH. At 36 years old, Cepeda’s role as designated hitter revitalized his career, if only for another season or two. Cepeda signed on with the Kansas City Royals during the 1974 season, but he did not have the same success that he found in the magical 1973 season.

For his performance as the first Designated Hitter with the Boston Red Sox, and an overall great Hall of Fame career, Happy 72nd Birthday, Orlando Cepeda!

Happy Birthday, Brandon Moss!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Brandon Moss’ Red Sox career had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. When then-Red Sox outfielder Eric Hinske went on the bereavement list in the summer of 2008, it was Brandon Moss who got the call to join the big league club as a replacement. In his debut on August 6th, Moss had a hit off Angels’ reliever Scot Shields and scored later in the same inning. Though he was optioned back to the minor leagues 4 days later, Moss returned in September when the rosters expanded.

The Red Sox started the 2008 season in Japan, facing the Oakland Athletics. Regular starting right fielder J.D. Drew experienced tightness in his back, and Brandon Moss found himself in the starting lineup for the team. With the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the 9th inning, Brandon Moss hit his first career home run to tie the game at 5. It was Moss’ first career home run, but it was also the first home run hit by a Red Sox player in 2008.

Moss ended up being optioned back to the minors following the Japan trip, but returned by the end of April. In early May, Moss had an emergency appendectomy and spent some time on the Disabled List.

Aside from Brandon Moss, other things were brewing with the Red Sox during the season. The now infamous Manny Ramirez exit from Boston involved, indirectly, Brandon Moss. The owner of the team’s first home run of the season was sent with pitcher Craig Hansen to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three team trade that sent Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh’s Jason Bay to Boston.

While Jason Bay continues to perform well with the Red Sox, and Manny Ramirez has battled public image issues with his steroid scandal, Brandon Moss had his first full season in the big leagues with mixed results. Moss started off the season with a strong May and June before tapering off. Despite this, he has shown some upside as the season comes to a close.

Wherever Moss’ career goes from here, we’ll always have his dramatic 9th inning home run on Opening Day, 2008. For that, and being part of the reason Jason Bay is Boston’s current left fielder, Happy 26th Birthday, Brandon Moss!

Happy Birthday, Jean Dubuc!

In 1918, the Boston Red Sox were vying for their 4th championship in 7 years when Jean Dubuc became the newest member of the Red Sox.

Jean Dubuc had already seen success during his 5 year tenure with the Detroit Tigers where he went 72-60 with an ERA right around the 3.00 mark. By 1917, he found himself in the minor leagues where he dominated while pitching for the Salt Lake City Bees in the independent Pacific Coast League. Between 1917 and 1918, Dubuc won 31 games and throwing over 500 innings before the Red Sox came calling.

When the PCL season came to an end, Dubuc joined the Red Sox and pitched in two games with moderate success. Dubuc was also known for having some ability to hit, unfortunately in just 6 at bats he only managed 1 hit. Despite the limited play, Jean Dubuc managed to get into a game during the 1918 World Series.

During game 2 of the 1918 World Series, Dubuc came to the plate as a pinch hitter in place of the light hitting third baseman, Fred Thomas, with the Red Sox trailing 3-1 and 1 out in the top of the 9th inning. With a man on first and third Dubuc promptly struck out, stranding the runners. Pinch hitter Wally Schang popped out to end the threat, evening the series at 1 game a piece.

The Red Sox went on to win the World Series 4 games to 2, but Jean Dubuc did not appear in another game. In fact, Dubuc’s involvement with a ballplayer known to gamble led to his release following the 1919 season with the New York Giants. Dubuc’s relationship with the player in the 1919 Black Sox scandal may be Dubuc’s most memorable moment. During the trial, it was revealed that Dubuc recieved a telegram from a White Sox player indicted, recommending he bet on the Cincinnati Reds during the 1919 World Series.

For his triumphant return to the major leagues, and minor involvement in the 1918 World Series, Happy 121st Birthday, Jean Dubuc!

Happy Birthday, Chad Bradford!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

During the 2005 season, the Red Sox were faced with moving a disgruntled Jay Payton after he made his position of 4th outfielder a public problem. Normally in a situation like this, a team hopes to acquire something half decent while paying for a bit of the salary of a player being dumped.

In this case, Chad Bradford was the player acquired for Jay Payton. Bradford had spent much of the season on the disabled list for the Oakland Athletics before making his debut with Boston in July. The submarine pitcher was a reliable bullpen arm for the A’s before the injury setback.

Once in the big leagues with the Sox in 2005, Bradford proved that he had recovered from injury, helping the Red Sox with a 3.86 ERA despite the fact that left handed hitters were hitting over .400. While it was a long a season, and no particular game is considered a season-changer, it must be said that Bradford earned a win in two of the 31 games he appeared in. At season’s end, the Red Sox record was 2 games better than the Cleveland Indians’ record in the Wild Card standings.

Though the Red Sox earned a playoff birth, they were no match to the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox lost only one postseason game in their quest for their first World Series championship since the 1917 season. Bradford provided 1.1 innings of scoreless relief during the ALDS, but the Red Sox offense was no match for the White Sox.

Bradford’s postseason heroics continued after he left Boston, with the 2006 Mets and 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. He had a perfect postseason ERA until the 2008 ALCS when the Red Sox were able to squeeze a run against him. The Rays handled the Sox, but went on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies for the World Series title.

For his 2005 contributions and performance in the 2005 ALDS versus the White Sox, Happy 35th Birthday, Chad Bradford!

Happy Birthday, Mike McNally!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

From 1915 through 1920, Mike McNally served as a reliable backup infielder for the Boston Red Sox before being involved in one of the many trades made by owner Harry Frazee with the New York Yankees. McNally was included in the trade that sent McNally, Waite Hoyt, Harry Hooper and Wally Schang to the Yankees for four players that would either be out of baseball or moved to other teams within a few years. Meanwhile, Hoyt went on to have a hall of fame career with the Yankees.

Anyway, as today would have been Mike McNally’s 116th birthday, it’s time to remember the good times. McNally appeared only once in the 1916 World Series, in game 2 as a pinch runner in a 1-1 game between the Red Sox and the Brooklyn Robins. Babe Ruth and Sherry Smith were locked in a pitching duel for 13 long innings before pinch hitter Del Gainer knocked in McNally to give the Red Sox a 2-1 victory.

McNally would appear in 2 more World Series after his trade from Boston, and had at least one more great moment in the 1921 World Series. In Game 1, McNally had a lead off double to start the fifth inning. After a bunt groundout moved him over to third, McNally stole home plate after a strikeout, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-0 win.

For his solid performance as a back up infielder, and his dramatic moments on the big stage of the World Series, Happy 116th Birthday, Mike McNally!

Happy Birthday, Tom Herrin!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

The 1954 season did not start out well for the Boston Red Sox, as they were 11-21 on May 31st, on their way to an 85 loss season. In general, the 50’s was not a bright decade for the Red Sox, finishing above third place only three times.

However, for at least a day in 1954, the Red Sox had an offensive output that rivaled any other day in the season. The Red Sox swept a doubleheader with the Philadelphia Athletics, outscoring the opponent by a combined 29-10 score by winning 20-10 and 9-0 in the two games. While this was impressive, there was a hidden ‘career day’ in the midst of the piling on of runs by the Red Sox.

What exactly is a ‘career day’? It’s the type of day a player has that is never duplicated again by that player. Whereas Ted Williams would smash the ball around and win games with great regularity, men like Tom Herrin had only one shining day to hold onto.

Entering May 31st, Herrin had pitched in 7 games with marginal success as a rookie reliever. He had only 1 at bat to that point, and had not yet earned a victory with the team.

Red Sox starter Tom Brewer began the doubleheader with horrendous results; Brewer gave up 5 runs in only an inning and a third of work. In his first inning, he allowed a single run. The Red Sox offense responded with three of their own in the bottom half of the inning to give Brewer a 2 run lead to work with. In the top of the 2nd inning, Brewer quickly gave the 2 runs back, plus allowed 2 more. With the Sox in a 5-3 hole in the top of the 2nd inning, the Sox manager went to rookie Tom Herrin to stop the bleeding. Herrin came into the game with a man on third and got Philadelphia left fielder Gus Zernial to pop out and first baseman Vic Power to ground out and end the threat of more runs.

In the bottom of the second inning, Herrin was on deck when Red Sox shortstop Milt Bolling started a rally with a single. Herrin came to the plate for only the second time in his major league career. In the minors, Herrin carried a .163 batting average through 5 Triple A seasons. Despite the numbers, Herrin stroked a single to continue the rally where the Red Sox scored 4 runs and took a 7-5 lead after 2 innings. The single by Herrin was his only hit in the game, and would be his only hit in the major leagues!

The Red Sox offense exploded for 7 runs in the 4th to provide sufficient protection for Herrin to pitch into the 6th inning. Herrin allowed just 4 runs in his four and two thirds innings. With his performance, he was able to secure the first(and only) victory of his career.

Tom Herrin appeared in 6 more games during the 1954 season, but did not duplicate the kind of day that he had on May 31st. In fact, he would never play in another major league game after the 1954 season. If he were alive today(he passed away in 1999), Herrin would celebrate his 80th birthday.

For having a ‘career day’ of having his first and only hit and career victory in the same game, Happy 80th Birthday, Tom Herrin!

Happy Birthday, Chase Nixon!

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

As the 8th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001 is upon us, I wasn’t too sure about reflecting on a particular baseball player who is celebrating a birth. For the sake of knowing, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ellis Burks are celebrating their 26th and 45th birthdays respectively. There is a birthday to celebrate, but it was literally the day of their birth. During the day so many lives were lost, there’s at least one story of a new life.

I initially thought that I would leave this day blank, a ‘moment of silence’ in blog form. However, having left so many days this year blank, I didn’t want to let September 11th go by without acknowledging the day. During the days between 9/11 and when baseball resumed a week later, there were a lot of stories that came out about people trying to get home and get in touch with their families. We will undoubtedly read about these stories today and around this day.

The story I remember vividly from the days surrounding 9/11 involved then-Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon. Nixon’s wife was pregnant with their first child and the Sox had been on a road trip during that week. The team was scheduled to play in Tampa Bay, and Nixon was en route to Boston when his wife was in labor, and his flight was called down in Norfolk, VA due to the morning attacks. While he missed the birth of his son Chase, he did find a way to be with his wife and son. His cousin drove from North Carolina, picked Nixon up, and they went on their way to Boston.