Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Uncle Sam, happy birthday to you!
Today the United States celebrates its 236th birthday. Wow, that’s a lot of candles. Now I don’t want to be a stick in the mud, nor do I want to diminish the accomplishments of those 56 guys who autographed that spectacular document, however the real birthday of this great nation is June 21st! What? Yup, it’s true.
In fact it’s June 21, 1788, for that was the day that the great state of New Hampshire ratified the Constitution of the United States making it the law of the land and creating the entity of the United States. But that’s OK, I don’t always celebrate my birthday when it really occurred, in fact sometimes I don’t think I was really born until a November night 36 years after I got here but that’s another story for another time.
And that brings me to the Red Sox! And here’s how. Fenway Park is an iconic temple of, not only Boston but New England. And the Red Sox are truly a team of New England and there were four states worth of New Englanders who attached their names to the Declaration of Independence sent to King George.
They were, from Massachusetts: John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and Elbridge Gerry. From New Hampshire came Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple and Matthew Thornton while Rhode Islanders Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery stated their intentions by signing their names. The Connecticut quartet of Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams and Oliver Wolcott rounded out the New England autographs on one of the worlds most famous documents.
Now as I chronicled these names I got to thinking how are these guys connected to the Red Sox and Fenway Park. Here’s what I found out.
The Red Sox had two namesakes of the Adams cousins who signed the Declaration, who wore their uniform.
Bob Adams pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Sox in 1925.
Terry Adams was 2-0 in 27 innings of relief with the 2004 World Champion Red Sox.
A couple of namesakes of this man played for the Sox as well.
Garry Hancock was a backup outfielder from 1978-1982.
Josh Hancock pitched three games for the Sox in 2002.
None of the New Hampshire or Rhode Island signees have any connection to the Red Sox. However a pair of the Connecticut signees do.
Bob Wolcott pitched in four games for the Red Sox in 1999, a total of 6 2/3 innings.
Now the New Englander who signed the Declaration with the closest connection to the Red Sox is this gentleman and when you see his name you understand why?
There are no less than 10 guys named Williams who have worn a Red Sox uniform and that begins all the way back in 1902 when they were not even called the Red Sox.
Dave Williams pitched three games for the Boston Americans in 1902.
Rip Williams caught and played 95 games at first base for the 1911 Red Sox, the year before they moved into Fenway Park.
Denny Williams was a back up outfielder in some of the Red Sox darkest days of 1924 ’25’ and ’28’. He actually hit .365 in 25 games in 1924.
Ken Williams ended a 14 year career in the Red Sox outfield in 1928 and ’29’. He hit .313 in 207 games in two years.
Edwin Dibrell “Dib” Williams also closed out his career, of six years, in Boston. In 1935 he played first, second, third and shortstop in 75 games in a Red Sox uniform.
Dick Williams playing career ended with the Red Sox in 1963 and ’64’. His impact in Boston came when he piloted the Red Sox to the American League pennant in 1967. Williams was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Stan Williams became the fourth Williams to close his career in Boston when he pitched 4 1/3 innings in three games in 1972.
Dana Williams’ career consisted of five at bats in three games in 1989. He doubled for his only major league hit.
Randy Williams was the last Williams to play for the Red Sox. He pitched 8 1/3 inning in seven games last season. Today the southpaw is pitching in Japan.
Last and certainly not least, in fact, last and most definitely most is none other than Theodore Samuel Williams.
There is no player named Williams, there is no player named anything, there is no player named anyone who has had a greater impact on New England than Ted Williams.
Long live his fame,
Long live his glory,
And long may his story be told!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, July 4, 2012.