I told you I was going “old school” with the bullpen so I have chosen two. I guess we’ll call them closers and as I did with the starters, I’ll start with the most recent and roll back. The requirement for eligibility for the All Fenway relievers is simply 400 innings pitched.
The first one is a no-brainer…..
Jonathan Papelbon 2005-2011.
Jonathan Robert Papelbon made his debut on Sunday July 31, 2005 at Fenway Park in a start against the Minnesota Twins. He worked 5 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) and chalked up a no decision in a game the Red Sox eventually won 4-3. His first win came in Toronto six weeks later when he faced only 10 batters pitching the 10th, 11th and 12th innings of a 6-5 Sox win. He added two more wins that month working in a set up role and although there were a couple of more starts that summer, when the Red Sox headed north for the 2006 season, they did so with Papelbon slated for the set up man for closer Keith Foulke.
The Red Sox opened the 2006 campaign in Texas and they led 7-2 in the eighth when Papelbon entered and got the Rangers one, two, three. In the ninth, Foulke gave up a run and two hits in the five batters he faced. The following day it was Mike Timlin in the set up role and “Paps” recorded his first career save preserving Josh Beckett’s 2-1 win with another one, two, three inning including two punch outs. The following day Foulke pitched the ninth inning of a 14-8 Red Sox win in Baltimore in what turned out to be his swan song, as the next day Papelbon recorded his third straight one, two, three inning; his second save and there was no turning back for Papelbon, Francona or the Red Sox. Jonathan Papelbon was it!
In six seasons he averaged 37 saves with a high of 41 in 2008. A four-time all-star, he became as much a part of the Fenway Park story as any player in Red Sox history.
His legendary stare on the mound…..
His fist pump of the old fat cop on his entry from the bullpen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG90qaZs3V8&feature=fvwrel and of course his
dance following the Red Sox winning the ALCS in 2007.
He won the Babe Ruth Award as the New York Writers MVP of the 2007 World Series in which he had three saves.
Jonathan Papelbon was fun, and he was good, damn good, in fact he is the greatest closer in the history of Fenway Park!
The other bullpen guy….
Dick Radatz 1962-1966.
First they called him “Moose” and then they called him “The Monster”. At 6′ 6″ and 230 pounds, his physique fit both monikers. However his evolution from “Moose” to “Monster” was directly related to his dominance on the mound.
Pitching at a time when the save had just been “invented” and it was still not yet an “official” stat, and a “closer” meant, as often as not pitching more than an inning, Radatz dominated!
“The Monster” twice won the Sporting News “Fireman of the Year Award. In his years with Boston his strikeout per nine inning mark was 10.1.
In four full seasons with the Red Sox, Radatz was 49-34 (.590) with 104 saves and a 2.65 ERA. In 1964 he was 16-9 with a league leading 29 saves. He appeared in 79 games that year, closing 67 of them and those 16 wins remain a record for wins in a season by a Red Sox relief pitcher.
Coming from an era when “closers” often pitched well more than one inning, Radatz actually had 19 appearances where he pitched 4 innings or more. And he won 16 of them. Included in that was a nine inning win in relief against the Yankees in 1962. In 1963 he fired 33 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings out of the Sox pen.
Dick Radatz reportedly, struck out Mickey Mantle 46 times in 64 at bats! Retrosheet.org states that Mantle struck out 12 times in 16 at bats against “The Monster”. Either way, his dominance of the All Time Great is clear!
Radatz will serve multiple roles on my All Fenway staff, he’ll be the long and middle reliever, close on occasion and for those of you wondering about a lefty specialist for the dangerous left-handed hitter, “Moose” is the guy, lefties hit .211 against him, righties, .213.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, the All Fenway pitching
staff , February 25, 2012.