Alrighty then, it’s time for the first baseman on the All Fenway team.
Remember now, I am not selecting one player at each position, rather an entire 25 man All Fenway Park roster. The pitching staff is: Jon Lester (L), Jonathan Papelbon (R), Pedro Martinez (R), Roger Clemens (R), Luis Tiant (R), Dick Radatz (R), Mel Parnell (L), Lefty Grove (L), Babe Ruth (L) and “Smokey” Joe Wood (R) and my two catchers are Carlton Fisk and Jason Varitek.
Very often, defense is sacrificed at this position in favor of offensive strength, especially power. In pre DH days, and still applicable in the National League, often a player who is “slowing down” will move to first to accommodate his diminishing physical skills. Some examples, Ernie Banks, moved from short to first, Carl Yastrzemski from left field to first, Harmon Killebrew from third to first and Rod Carew from second to first, all are Hall of Famers.
With all due respect to the five others nominated for this position, this one for me is a no-brainer!
Jimmie Foxx played first base for the Red Sox from 1936-1942.
In seven seasons with the Red Sox, Foxx hit .320 and averaged 32 homers and 113 RBI a year. He won his third MVP Award in 1938 when he hit 50 home runs. The first Red Sox player to crack the 50 home run club, he held the team record for homers in a season until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006.
Jimmie Foxx was the second player in baseball history to hit 500 career homers.
Foxx was a legendary strong man and one of the first musclemen to play the game. Playing at a time when muscles were thought to actually hurt a baseball player, Foxx earned the moniker The Beast for the size of his muscles.
Foxx’s muscles developed from the work he did being raised on a farm. He loved to show off his arms and used to cut off his sleeves to expose his muscles.
Foxx explained to Time Magazine how working on a farm developed his physique: “…I worked on a farm and I am glad of it. Farmer boys are stronger than city boys. When I was 12, I could cut corn all day, help in the wheat fields, swing 200-pound bags of phosphate off a platform into a wagon. We had games on the farm to test strength and grip. A fellow had to plant both feet in half a barrel of wheat and then pick up two bushels of wheat or corn and balance them on his shoulders. Another trick was to lift a 200-pound keg of nails without letting the keg touch your body. I could do that easily but I never realized then it was helping me train for the Big Leagues.”
Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx played together from 1939-1942 and Ted Williams regarded Foxx one of “the finest people I ever met.”
Foxx’s tape measure home runs became legendary and like Babe Ruth, fans, writers and players alike marveled at how high and far he could hit a baseball. At Shibe Park in Philadelphia (Foxx’s first home), the left field roof was 65 feet high and the back wall of the stadium was 378 feet from home plate at its closest point. Twenty four times, Foxx launched baseballs clear out of the park and many of them were not at the “nearest point”. Comiskey Park in Chicago had similar height but the back wall was about 425 feet away from home, Foxx hit six balls clear out of that edifice as well.
The All Star Game was established in 1933 and Foxx made the first nine American League All Star squads.
Oh and did I mention, he could fly! A state 200 yard sprint champion in high school, Foxx was an excellent defensive player as well. He literally could and did play all around the diamond, including a few stints on the mound.
Jimmie Foxx is not only the greatest Red Sox first baseman, he is in the arguably the greatest first baseman in the history of the game and perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter who ever lived!
And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, the time of “Double X”, the time of “The Beast”. Thank you Bill Jenkinson.