Voting is still in progress for the All Fenway Team where you can vote for the Red Sox best player at each position since Fenway’s inception in 1912. http://mlb.mlb.com/bos/fan_forum/all_fenway_team.jsp
I am putting together a team with a little bit of a twist. I am selecting a 25 man roster for the All Fenway team. Thus far I have selected a pitching staff of 10, (eight starters and two closers): 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). My catchers are Carlton Fisk and Jason Varitek, the corners have Jimmie Foxx at first and Wade Boggs at third and the second basemen are Bobby Doerr and Dustin Pedroia. Today I round out the infield with the shortstop.
The shortstop nominees provide the best collection of players, thus far, at any one position. They are:
Rick Burleson known as the “Rooster” who played from 1974-1980.
Joe Cronin who played from 1935-1945 and he was the player manager as well.
Nomar Garciaparra called Fenway home from 1996 until July of 2004.
Johnny Pesky, broke in, in 1942 and following WW II resumed his Fenway career in 1946, playing until his trade to the Tigers in 1952.
Rico Petrocelli (1963-1976) was the first American League shortstop to hit 40 homers in a season when he hit 40 in 1969.
Everett Scott patroled shortstop at Fenway from 1914-1921, including World championship years of 1915, ’16’ and ’18’.
An argument could be made for each of these players to be on my 25 man squad, however only one will make it and he is,
There have been few players to wear a Red Sox uniform who have been as popular as Nomar Garciaparra, and why not. He exploded upon the scene in 1997 and set Red Sox records for hits by a rookie (209), at bats by a rookie (684), most total bases by a rookie (365) and he set a rookie record with a 30 game hitting streak. As a rookie he led the league in at bats, hits and triples on his way to a unanimous selection as American League Rookie of the Year.
A five time All Star in Boston he won back to back batting titles hitting .357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000. That .372 batting average is the highest mark achieved by a Red Sox right-handed hitter in their history.
No less authority than Ted Williams said he was the best right-handed hitter he had since Joe DiMaggio and in an era of extraordinary shortstops which included Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez, Nomar was considered by many to be the best of the bunch.
He is the only player in Red Sox history to crack the 50 double mark twice banging 51 in 2000 and 56 in 2002. On May 10, 1999 he became only the 11th player in history to hit two grand slam home runs in the same game and he tied a Red Sox record he still holds with 10 RBI in a game. And he could play a little shortstop too.
In July of 2004 with the Red Sox mired, falling further behind the Yankees and their defense was somewhat suspect. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein pulled the trigger on one of the most controversial trade in Fenway history when he sent Nomar to the Cubs in a three team deal which brought defensive phenom shortstop Orlando Cabrera to Boston.
In an ironic twist, the magic that become 2004 had the trade of one of Fenway’s most popular players marked as the turning point of the season.
He was never the same after leaving Boston. Occasionally he showed flashes of the brilliance he once possessed but his best years were clearly behind him. He went from the Cubs, to the Dodgers and then on to Oakland but it was clear his heart never left Fenway Park.
In 2009 he finally returned to Fenway Park and was welcomed with open arms and hearts by the Fenway Faithful.
His ties to Boston and Fenway Park were so strong that when it came time for him to retire, he contacted Red Sox ownership and on March 11, 2010, he signed a one day minor league contract with the Red Sox and then retired in a Red Sox uniform. His cycle of history complete!
When he emerged from centerfield on Fenway’s 100th birthday party he received one of the loudest cheers, and why not, he’s the greatest shortstop to don a uniform in the long, storied history of Fenway Park!
And so it is at this time in Fenway Park history, April 26, 2012 Fenway’s all time shortstop selection time.