This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
During the offseason, I’ll randomly celebrate the birthday of Former/Current/Nearly But Never/Living/Dead Red Sox players from throughout franchise history. To kick things off this offseason, I’m going to celebrate several players that happen to share November 18th as a birthday.
What else can be said about David Ortiz that hasn’t already been said? He has already been annointed the Most Clutch Player in franchise history by the owners, and fans everywhere undoubtedly agree that without David Ortiz, there is no 2004 World Series Championship, and perhaps no 2007 World Series title either. Sometime next season Big Papi will likely hit his 275th(he’s 16 away) home run for the Red Sox and move into 5th place on the all-time franchise list for home runs. When Ortiz connects on that 275th home run, he will pass former teammate Manny Ramirez and only Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Carl Yastzremski and Ted Williams will remain ahead of him. It’s appropriate company for a player who had such a vital role in changing history and propelling the Red Sox towards ending the championship drought. Happy 34th Birthday, David Ortiz!
Tom “Flash” Gordon arrived in Boston at a time during which the franchise was entering a period where we saw a changing of the guard. 1996 was the swan song season for the Red Sox careers of Roger Clemens and a year later, Mo Vaughn. It was also a season where some players made their first appearances at the major league level and would play pivotal roles later on. Tom Gordon was on the mound for Nomar Garciaparra’s second start of his career. Tom Gordon was also on the mound during Trot Nixon’s debut in Right Field, at a time when Troy O’Leary was the everyday player. A few years later O’Leary moved over to Left Field and Trot assumed his role as the everyday Right Fielder. Gordon also transitioned during his time in Boston. After a sub-par 1996 campaign, he made the switch to relief pitcher during the 1997 season. By the end up 1998, Gordon racked up 46 saves and his first trip to the All Star Game en route to winning the 1998 Rolaid’s Relief Award. Arm injuries led to his departure from Boston, but not before he helped guide the team to the 1998 and 1999 postseasons. He went on to pitch another decade with 6 different teams, and was last seen with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Happy 42nd Birthday, Tom Gordon!
Dante Bichette had hit over 250 home runs and batted a .300 career batting average with the Rockies before they shipped him off to the Reds. When he came to the Red Sox via trade during the 2000 season, he provided some pop to the lineup. He slugged 19 home runs over parts of the ’00-’01 seasons in Boston and hit for a .287 average, his production did not match that which he showcased while with the Colorado Rockies. His shining moment with the Red Sox was arguably his 3 run home run in the 8th inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners on August 16th. The homerun gave the Red Sox their second victory in 8 games, during the Joe Kerrigan era as manager during which the Red Sox went 17-26 in a free fall from contention. For his19 home runs in a Red Sox uniform, Happy 46th Birthday, Dante Bichette!
In 1996, Jamie Moyer had already already played for 4 teams by the age of 33 with a record of 71 wins and 76 losses. Darren Bragg, by comparison, was a 26 year old coming off a pair of seasons at the AAA level hitting well over .300, and showed promise in his two brief stints with the Mariners in 1995 and 1996. At the time, it probably looked like a no brainer to the Red Sox front office to deal a hot hand by sending a 7-1 Jamie Moyer to the Seattle Mariners for the potential rising star in Darren Bragg. It appeared to be a change that Jamie Moyer needed. He went on to win 145 games for the Mariners over the ensuing decade or so, and another 47 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Jamie Moyer celebrates his 47th birthday knowing he has a contract for the 2010 season, while Darren Bragg hasn’t played at the major league level in 5 full seasons. Darren Bragg was serviceable for his time in Boston, but it’s hard to ignore the possibilities, had Moyer stayed in Boston. Happy 47th Birthday, Jamie Moyer!
Happy Birthday to David Ortiz, Tom Gordon, Dante Bichette and Jamie Moyer!