The Van Ness Street Banners of Glory include, the names of all those Red Sox retired numbers on Fenway’s right field facade who are enshrined in Cooperstown and the five we mentioned Friday. So before we complete the list, let’s have a role call…..Williams, Cronin, Doerr, Yastrzemski, Fisk, Rice, Young, Collins, Speaker, Hooper and Ferrell.
Now the remaining trio pose some interesting thoughts to ponder, so let’s ponder them one at a time.
Lefty Grove pitched for the Red Sox for eight seasons, 1934-1941.
When Lefty Grove arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse at Fenway Park for 1934 season, he was the best pitcher in all of baseball and had been for about seven years. Pitching for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, he had a lifetime record of 195-79 (.712). He had led the league in: ERA five times, wins four times, strikeouts seven times, shutouts twice and complete games three times. He had pitched in three World Series and was the 1931 American League MVP.
The Red Sox acquiring him in 1934 was equivalent to them today acquiring, let’s see, ahh, maybe Halla, no wait, Linci, no perhaps Verlan…. never mind, there is no comparison. Nobody today has had that level of dominance for that sustained amount of time. In fact maybe about a dozen pitchers in the whole history of the game are in that level of the stratosphere.
Lefty warms up between innings in a game in 1939.
Grove did not sustain that level of dominance in a Red Sox uniform. He was still very, very good going 105-62 (.629), winning 20 games one season and winning four more ERA titles. With the better part of his Hall of Fame career having been in Philadelphia, his number 10 has not made its way to the Fenway facade, nor should it, but his banner proclaims his place in Fenway and Red Sox history.
Jimmie Foxx (R) and Hal Trotsky share a moment in the Red Sox dugout.
Like Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx came to Fenway Park via the Philadelphia Athletics and he arrived with a resume that was equally as impressive. A two-time home run and RBI champ, winner of the triple crown in 1933 and back to back MVP seasons in 1932 and 1933.
When “Double X” arrived in 1936, he took immediately to his new environs, hitting .338 with 41 homers and 143 RBI, both new Red Sox records. He would lead the club in home runs for the next four years and in RBI, save for 1939, as well. He still holds the Red Sox record for RBI in a season with an astonishing 175 in 1938, the year he won his third MVP Award. His 50 home runs that year were a Red Sox record until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006. Jimmie Foxx held the Red Sox single season home run record for 70 years and he has held the RBI record for 75 years!
The “Beast” played but six plus seasons with the Red Sox, yet in those six short years, his production was monstrous hitting 222 home runs and knocking in 788 runs. All this while hitting .315. And when Cooperstown came a calling in 1951, it was a Boston “B” Jimmie donned for his Hall of Fame plaque!
Many a man has worn the number 3 since Jimmie Foxx peeled off his Red Sox uniform for the last time in 1942, however, maybe it’s time to take a look and consider elevating it to the company of the immortals on Fenway’s right field facade. A few have been as good, and very, very few have been better!
Last, and certainly not least, of the Van Ness Street Banner Brigade is Wade Anthony Boggs.
Wade Boggs played with the Red Sox from 1982-1992, winning five batting titles, four in a row, banging out seven consecutive 200 hit seasons, including a Red Sox record-breaking 240 in 1985.
Boggs was an eight time all-star during his Fenway Park tenure and he was one of baseball’s best hitters for a decade. He led the team in hitting nine of his 10 years as the Red Sox third baseman. A doubles machine, there have been a select few hitters who have used Fenway Park the way Boggs did. He hit .369 lifetime at Fenway!
Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, his banner waves proudly on Van Ness Street, however,
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, February 19, 2012.