Today I select the third baseman for my All Fenway team. http://mlb.mlb.com/bos/fan_forum/all_fenway_team.jsp
A heads up to you newer readers and a reminder to the old guard, I am not selecting a best player at each position, rather I am choosing a 25 man All Fenway squad. Thus far we have; the pitching staff: 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), the two catchers, Carlton Fisk and Jason Varitek, the first baseman, Jimmie Foxx and two second baseman, Dustin Pedroia and Bobby Doerr.
There are six players on the third base ballot however the choice is really between three because three are easily eliminated from consideration. Mike Lowell and Bill Mueller although part of the magic of “04′ and ’07’ simply did not put in enough time for true consideration.
One of the most popular Red Sox of the last 10 years, Lowell was the MVP in the 2007 World Series.
Mueller owns perhaps the most significant single in Red Sox history. It scored Dave Roberts and tied game four of the 2004 ALSC in the ninth inning, igniting the greatest comeback of all time.
Too bad because both were solid, clutch players who epitomized the word team.
John Valentine was a solid performer for 10 years with the Red Sox however solid does not warrant all time status.
So it boils down to Larry Gardner, Frank Malzone and Wade Boggs.
Gardner was an outstanding defender and a good hitter, .282 in ten years with Boston. He was hard-nosed and he was clutch (led the team in RBI in the 1912 and ’16’ World series’). His status as a member of the Red Sox hall of fame recognizes him as one of the best to wear the uniform however, he is third on my the all time best list.
Larry Gardner may well have won a Gold Glove or two had the award been around during Fenway Park’s first years.
Winning my silver medal is one of my own first favorite players, Frank Malzone. “Malzie” was a combination of defense, good hitting with a bit of power. He was as steady a player as any in his era or any other and he was a six-time all-star.
Frank Malzone won the first ever Gold Glove in 1957 when only one was given out at each position in both leagues. He also won the AL one in ’58’ and ’59’. He missed only 43 games over an eight year stretch from 1957 through 1964.
So that the leaves the All Fenway third baseman…..Wade Boggs!
Boggs spent five years in the minor leagues before cracking the line up at Fenway Park in 1982 and when he arrived he left no doubt he belonged. He hit .349 as a rookie in 104 games and then reeled of a string 200 hit seasons the likes of which Fenway Park had never seen.
For seven consecutive years Boggs garnered 200 plus hits and he won five American League batting titles, four in a row. He was an eight time all-star in his 11 seasons in Boston and his .338 average while calling Fenway Park home is second on the Red Sox all time list to Ted Williams (.344).
Of his 3010 career base hits, 2098 came in a Red Sox uniform which why he wears a Red Sox cap in Cooperstown. He holds the Red Sox record of 240 hits in a single season.
He did develop a bit of a reputation for selfishness which is epitomized by a story from his last month with the Red Sox. It was September 12, 1992 and the Red Sox were playing out the string on a 65-76 season. Roger Clemens was pitching and Detroit was leading 1-0. Leading off the fifth inning, Tony Phillips hit a slow bounder to third base which Boggs did not handle. Official scorer Charlie Scoggins ruled the play an error which led to two unearned runs being scored giving the Tigers a three run lead. The Tigers eventually won the game 9-5 and after the game, Boggs sought out Scoggins and made a case for the play being a hit. Scoggins capitulated, the result of which was two more earned runs being added to Clemens.
Clemens was locked in a battle with Royals pitcher Kevin Appier for the league ERA title and when he got word of what went down, he was a bit disappointed and he said so. He recollected how a few years earlier Boggs was battling Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly for the batting title and how much he (Clemens) bore down to help Boggs get that title. This was called to the attention of Wade Boggs and his response was, “I didn’t know Clemens was battling for the ERA title.”
Exactly, and there are those who will contend that he would never know what was going on in his dugout or clubhouse, for he couldn’t know because it was always all about him.
Be that as it may, he was an offensive machine, the likes of which Fenway had never before seen and has not seen since from the third base position. Therefore he earns my spot as the third baseman on the All Fenway Park Team!
And so it is at this time in Fenway Park history, all time Fenway thrid baseman selection time.