“Attention please ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, now batting for Boston, number 29, Jim Pagliaroni, Pagliaroni”…..Sherm Feller

One of the things I enjoy the most about writing this is how one story leads to another. Yesterday’s piece brought me to Bill Monbouquette’s 17 strikeout night in 1961 and that brought me to his catcher that evening, Jim Pagliaroni.

Jim Pagliaroni appeared in only 239 games for the Red Sox in 1955, ’60’, ’61’, and ’62’. 

Jim Pagliaroni was one of my first Fenway favorites. Of course at eight years of age many of those 1961 Red Sox were among my first favorites but with “Pag” it was a bit different. First off there is that vowel at the end of his name which had a way of endearing Red Sox players to the head of the Sinibaldi household and that came with, what I will call, the trickle down effect. However, in that summer of 1961, when I began, in earnest, to follow this team, “Pag” earned his Fenway stripes.

1961 Topps Baseball Card.

Signed as a “bonus baby” out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach California in June of 1955, he made his major league debut at Fenway Park two months later. It was the top of the eighth inning of a game in which the Washington Senators were pounding the home team 14-6. Manager “Pinky” Higgins told the kid to get the gear on and catch the rest of the game to give his regular back stop, Sammy White a breather. Jim Pagliaroni was 17 years old. In his only at bat, he hit a sacrifice fly to center field in the ninth scoring Jackie Jensen. He would not see action in another major league game until the summer of 1960.

Pagliaroni in 1960.

It was a pretty historic season, 1960, the last season of the eight team American League, and the last season of Ted Williams. He got his first hit, hit his first homer and on September 28th, the last game of the season at Fenway Park, he found himself hitting cleanup, behind none other than “The Splendid Splinter” himself.

The sky was a gloomy gray that Wednesday afternoon and only 10,454 of the Fenway Faithful were present to bid adieu to “The Kid”. It was the bottom of the eighth inning, the Red Sox were trailing the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 and Eddie Fisher was on the mound. Take a peak. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN0uD8F3-QQ It was a legendary finish to a legendary career and Jim Pagliaroni stood witness to history!

“Pag” welcomes Ted home and says goodbye after he hit his 521st and last home run in his last major league at bat.

What most don’t remember is the Red Sox came back and won that game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk off error, 5-4, oh and Pagliaroni singled following Ted’s home run.

Pagliaroni’s propensity for historic moments was only beginning. On May 12, 1961 he found himself behind the plate in Washington’s Griffith Stadium catching Bill Monbouquette’s 17 strikeout game. (see yesterday’s post). However, it would be a little over a month later when he would eternally endear himself to the heart of eight year old Raymond Sinibaldi.

It was June 18th, a Sunday, and a great time of the year. The last week of school was upon us and the Sox were playing two at Fenway! Oh how we loved those Sunday doubleheaders. Sunday meant a TV game, what a treat! Well it didn’t seem so as Washington took a 7-5 lead into the top of the ninth. When they added five runs and were now trouncing my boys, I grabbed my glove and rubber ball and headed out to the driveway for a game of wall ball. The Red Sox always won in wall ball!  

Dave Sisler

Washinton starter Carl Mathias was on the mound for the Senators and he got Sox first baseman Vic Wertz to ground to first leading off the inning. After a Don Buddin single, Mathias punched out Billy Harrell and the Sox were doomed!  Not so fast! Two singles and a walk later, Mathias was replaced by former Red Sox pitcher Dave Sisler. And that’s when the fun began! Jackie Jensen walked, scoring a run, Frank Malzone walked, scoring a run and up stepped Jim Pagliaroni. It was then that Dad poked his head out the kitchen door and said “you might want to get in here”. I came a runnin just in time to see “Pag” launch a bomb into the left field screen, a grand salami baby and the game was tied! The Sox won that game and it still is on the books as their “most spectacular rally to win”.

However, “Pag” was not through for the day, no siree, he caught the second game as well and wait, it gets better! In the bottom of the 13th inning, that’s right the 13th, he hit a walk off home run into the left field screen giving the Sox a sweep and crowning him my new all time favorite Red Sox player!

His dance with history was nowhere near complete. On August 1, 1962 he found himself behind the plate at Commiskey Park in Chicago and once again Bill Monbouquette was on the mound. Well, that night he caught a no-hitter as “Monbo” allowed only a second inning walk to Al Smith, avoiding perfection. “Pag” did a bit more than catch that game, he also scored the only run in the eighth inning following a two out single.

Earl Wilson (who pitched a no-hitter six weeks earlier) greets “Monbo” after his no-hitter August 1, 1962. Smiling between them is catcher Jim Pagliaroni.

“Pag” was traded to the Pirates at the end of the 1962 season. He was part of the deal that brought Dick Stuart to Boston. Yet there was still more history to be made. After five seasons with teammates Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell he found himself in Oakland for the 1968 campaign. A back up catcher, he was behind the plate on May 8th when 6,298 folks jammed Oakland Alameda County Stadium to watch the A’s take on the Minnesota Twins. They saw history as Jim “Catfish” Hunter became only the seventh pitcher in modern baseball history to throw a perfect game. His catcher, you guessed it, Jim Pagliaroni!

Catfish and Pag

“Pag” had one more stop on his magical history tour and it would come in 1969 as a member of the Seattle Pilots. Who? The one year wonders who after playing but one season in Seattle left for Milwaukee to become the Brewers!

Not a bad ride “Pag”, not a bad ride at all.  

And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, “Pag’s” time.

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About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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9 Responses to “Attention please ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, now batting for Boston, number 29, Jim Pagliaroni, Pagliaroni”…..Sherm Feller

  1. David Winslow says:

    Thank you so much for such a great article about a very special person.

  2. Linda Pagliaroni says:

    RAYMOND,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CAPTURING THESE HALLMARKS IN MY LIFE AND MY HUSBANDS, HIS FAVORITE WAS ALWAYS THE RED SOX AND THE YAWKEYS.
    I LOST HIM APRIL 3, 2010 AFTER 54 YEARS OF MARRIAGE. WE HAD THE BEST OF IT ALL AND I THANK GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS LIFE GAVE TO BOTH OF US.
    LINDA PAGLIARONI

  3. Dana P Gorman says:

    Thanks for the great story on my dad!
    He was a wonderful man!

  4. Diane Carter says:

    What wonderful memories you have of Jim ….. and a tribute such as this is yet another memory for you to treasure. For those of us who remember the two of you back at Wilson, well, it just bring a huge smile. God bless you and your family. Diane

  5. Laura Pagliaroni says:

    My Dad was a humble man. I have learned more about his career after his passing than he ever bragged about while alive. To me he was just my “Dad”. Special to me. He was loving and kind. I appreciate the joy and excitement he brought to others while playing a child’s game he loved and making a living doing so. Thank you so much for a great article and enlightening me on more of his career achievements.

    • Laura, Thank you for taking the time to write. Your Dad was one of my first favorites and as I myself grow older it means even more to me. I am glad you enjoyed this story. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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