Red Sox History

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A history of the Boston Red Sox.

Contents

Early Years

Origins

The Red Sox started play during the 1901 season in the newly formed American League. They built their team by signing players from the Boston National League club such as Jimmy Collins, who served as player/manager. Their home games were played at newly built Huntington Avenue Grounds.[1] The team was unofficially named the Americans. Charles W. Somers was the first owner of the team. Their first game was an exhibition victory over the University of Virginia on April 5. After their April 24 season opener in Baltimore was rained out, they got started two days later and were handed an 8-6 defeat. League chief Ban Johnson tossed out the ceremonial first pitch with Collins recording the team's first hit and run scored.[2] On May 8, the team kicked off it's home schedule with a 12-4 victory over team Philadelphia. They finished their inaugural season at 79-57, good enough for second behind the Chicago White Sox.

Champions

The Americans went 91-47 in 1903 to win the AL by a healthy 14.5 games over second place Philadelphia Athletics. They won the World Series over the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates, five games to three.[3] After falling back for a few years, the renamed Red Sox won their second title in 1912 over the New York Giants in what was their first year playing at Fenway Park.[4] They went on to win three more titles from 1913-1918.

Sale of Ruth

Following the 1919 season, both the team and fellow players grew tired of Babe Ruth's antics.[5] Ruth complained about his pay and refused to play for the team until he got a raise. He also ignored team rules. The Red Sox were concerned his behavior could rub off on other players. With a strong team, they felt they could afford to move Ruth. He was sent to the New York Yankees for $125,000 after manager Ed Barrow indicated that none of the New York players was worth acquiring.[6] Some have suggested that the sale was done to finance team owner Harry Frazee's play, "No, No, Nanette", however the claim is untrue as the play hadn't even been written at the time. Others have claimed that the player put a curse on the team.[7] Ultimately the real curse was that of mis-management as well as the bad luck of playing elite teams in their final three World Series apearances of the twentieth century.

Yawkee Era

After inheriting a large sum of money, Tom Yawkee looked into buying a baseball team. Yawkee ultimately chose the Red Sox and bought the team in 1933. He immediately opened his checkbook in an effort to turn the team around following fourteen consecutive losing seasons. Unfortunately, he lacked a strong baseball acumen[8] and spent a lot of money on past their prime players. While the team did improve they still finished way out of the running. Some in the media criticized his wild spending ways, arguing for a wiser spending of finances.[9] However, Yawkee continued his spending spree, including a major upgrade of Fenway Park. Despite his spending, the team recorded only three first place finishes during his 45 years owning the team.

Jackie Robinson

In 1945, Boston politician Isadore Mushnick pressured the Red Sox to open their team to black players. The team consented and offered tryouts to Negro League players Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe and Marvin Williams.[10] Coach Hugh Duffey oversaw the tryout with manager Joe Cronin watching from the stands. Said Duffy, "We were glad to give them a tryout...(They) (d)eserve the same chance as anybody". During the tryout, a sportswriter claimed to have heard a voice in the stands, possibly GM Eddie Collins, yell, "Get those (people) off the field!" After a delay due to Collins' suffering a broken leg, the team decided not to sign the players. When asked about Boston's chances during the 1967 season, Robinson said, "I'd like to see them lose because (Tom Yawkey) is probably one of the most bigoted guys in baseball."[11]

Recent Years

Dan Duquette

In 1994, team CEO John Harrington hired Montreal Expos GM Dan Duquette to the same position. His stated goal was to build the team through a revitalized farm system. He got off to a solid start by selecting Georgia Tech shortstop Nomar Garciaparra with his first draft pick. Duquette also had a skill for finding talent in players other teams had no use for, such as Tim Wakefield and Troy O'Leary. However when the team surprisingly won the AL East in 1995, he abandoned the farm system and signed several past their prime players in a Yawkey-esque attempt to win a championship. Although he was able to acquire Expos ace Pedro Martinez and future All-Stars Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, he was never able to bring in complementary players. His allegedly pompous style in dealing with the media, players and other executives was said to have hurt the team's reputation.[12]

Sale of the Team

In late 2001, a year after Harrington announced the team was up for sale, three bidders emerged as the finalists; New York lawyer Miles Prentice, Cablevision's Charles Dolan, and a group made up of former Florida Marlins owner Henry and former San Diego Padres owner Werner. Prentice entered a bid of $740 million. Dolan bid $700 million. Henry, known as "Investor 11" due to his still technically owning the Marlins[13], and Werner also bid $700 million. Due to Prentice's questionable financing, he was eliminated from consideration.[14] With the other two bids being similar, and the Henry group likely to receive a quick approval from the other baseball owners[14], their bid was chosen.

Henry's first decision was to name former Orioles and Padres executive Lucchino as team president. He then announced the firings of Duquette and manager Joe Kerrigan. Duquette's assistant, Mike Port, was named interim GM. The team tried to interview Houston Astros bench coach Tony Pena and Oakland Athletics bench coach Ken Macha for the managerial opening but were denied permission from their current teams. Henry then wanted to hire former Expos manager Felipe Alou, but was overruled by Lucchino's choice of Cleveland Indians bench coach Grady Little.

Billy Beane

After their first season, the Henry group looked to find a new GM. Their top choice was Athletics GM Billy Beane. The two sides were able to agree on a multi-year deal worth north of two million dollars per year. Beane had already planned his first moves with his new team, such as trading Varitek and signing free agent Bill Mueller.[15] He also negotiated the compensation Oakland would get for losing him: Kevin Youkilis. However, at the last moment, Beane backed out of the deal. With Beane out, they turned to their second choice, Theo Epstein. Epstein preached fiscal responsibility and a commitment to building through the team's farm system. He quickly acquired cheap free agents such as Mueller and Ortiz that would go on to have major impacts on the team.

2004

In the aftermath of their disappointing loss to the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, the team decided to make major changes. Unhappy with Little's performance, Henry ignored the front office and dismissed the manager. He would be replaced by former Phillies manager Terry Francona. After being unsuccessful in their efforts to trade Ramirez, they placed him on irrevocable waivers in hopes another team would take the player off their hands.[16] When that failed, they tried a swap for Texas Rangers high-priced superstar Alex Rodriguez. After lengthy negotiations, they agreed to acquire Rodriguez for Ramirez, cash to pay part of Ramirez' salary, and pitching prospect Lester. In a separate deal, Boston would send Garciaparra and reliever Scott Williamson to the Chicago White Sox for Magglio Ordonez, Neal Cotts and a third player.[17] The deals fell through when the Player's Association refused to allow Rodriguez to accept a lower salary. They were more successful in their attempts to upgrade the pitching staff, acquiring Schilling from the Diamondbacks and signing Keith Foulke away from the Athletics.

They started fast, going 15-6 over the first month. Their strong play wouldn't last as they went 41-39 from May 1 until the July 31 trading deadline. In an effort to change the team's defensive play, GM Epstein traded Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs for Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera. He also acquired Dave Roberts from the Los Angeles Dodgers in another deal. The team started slowly after the trades, going 2-4, but quickly picked up the pace by going on a 40-15 tear to finish the season and take the AL Wild Card. They swept the Angels in the ALDS before overcoming a 0-3 hole to the Yankees in the ALCS and advancing to the World Series. They swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first title since 1918.

References

  1. http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/american/huntin.htm
  2. Barnes Jr., WS. "Collins's Men Lose"; Boston Journal, 27 April 1901
  3. http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1903_WS.shtml
  4. Murnane, TH. "Boston Now Supreme in Baseball World"; Boston Globe, 17 October 1912
  5. Shannon, Paul. "New York Club gives $125,000 for Battering Babe - Biggest Price Ever Paid for Player"; Boston Post, 6 January 1920
  6. Stout, Glenn. (2000), Red Sox Century, Houghton Mifflin, Page 145
  7. http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/23685/edition_id/470/format/html/displaystory.html
  8. Stout, Glenn. (2000), Red Sox Century, Houghton Miffin, Page 178
  9. Daniel, Daniel. "You Cannot Buy a Pennant!"; Baseball Magazine, 1936
  10. Kountze, Doc. "Three Race Baseball Canidates Impress Red Sox Coach Hugh Duffy"; Boston Guardian, 21 April 1945
  11. Stout, Glenn. (2000). Red Sox Century, Houghton Miffin, Page 242
  12. Mnookin, Seth. (2006). Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, Simon & Schuster, Pages 138-139
  13. Mnookin, Seth. (2006). Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, Simon & Schuster, Page 108
  14. 14.0 14.1 Mnookin, Seth. (2006). Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, Simon & Schuster, Pages 122-124
  15. Lewis, Michael. (2003). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, W. W. Norton & Company, Pages 278-279
  16. Wilbur, Eric. "Ramirez placed on waivers"; Boston Globe, October 30, 2003
  17. http://www.sethmnookin.com/blog/2007/03/15/ftm-post-peek-a-rod-the-sox-the-now-infamous-opt-out-clause-the-theo-n-larry-show-and-the-spending-sprees-of-2006-plus-jon-lester/

See also

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