No less than 16 men with the last name of Fox have played major league baseball. All save one spelled it with one “x”. Two of them have been enshrined in Cooperstown, Jimmie and Nellie. One of them is on today’s roster of the Baltimore Orioles and another pitched at the AAA level for the Pawtucket Red Sox last year. Most toiled in obscurity with mediocre careers, and then there is Ervin “Pete” Fox.
“Pete” Fox (left) played 13 seasons, five of them with the Red Sox from 1941 through 1945. Here he poses with Jimmie Foxx at Fenway in 1937.
From Evansville Indiana, Fox made the jump from ‘A’ ball to the Tigers in 1933 after hitting .357 with 19 home runs. Originally a center fielder, he made the switch to right in 1934 and it was there he played, for the most part, for the rest of his career. A key part in the Tiger offense in their pennant winning seasons of 1934 and 35, he led the Tigers to victory over the Cubs in 1935 hitting .385 with 10 hits and a team leading 4 RBI. If there had been a World Series MVP Award at the time, he would have won it for sure.
Purchased by the Red Sox on December 12, 1940, he joined his namesake, Jimmie, and was a fourth outfielder in 1941 and 1942. He had a ring side seat to the .406 season of Ted Williams and in fact even spelled the Splendid Splinter in left eight times during that historic season. He was Joe Cronin’s “go to” guy off the bench and hit a solid .302 in 73 games for his new team.
With the war taking hundreds of major league players away, Fox found himself the Red Sox starting right fielder in 1943 and 44. He often hit third and he did not disappoint, hitting .288 in ’43’ to lead the team and he also swiped a team leading 22 bases at the age of 34. The following year, still occupying the third spot in the lineup, he hit .315 and made the American League all-star team. In 1945, with his skills diminishing, he found himself once again relegated to a back up role. He reported to camp in 1946 and was released on March 29 bringing his big league career to a close.
In 13 big league seasons, Ervin “Pete” Fox amassed 1678 hits and had a lifetime batting average of .298; numbers which are comparable to Red Sox legend Dom DiMaggio. He took a particular liking to Fenway Park where he hit .327 lifetime. He played in three World Series in which he hit a combined .327 in 55 at bats, and he was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.
And so it was on this date in Fenway Park history, December 12, 1940.