On October 29, 2007, at 12:06 in the morning, the Red Sox capped of an easy 4 game sweep of the Colorado Rockies to win their 7th World Series in team history and their second in three years. As a Red Sox fan, things could not seem any better. The team finally had a competent GM and ownership combination. The team had a manager that was loved by the team’s players and fans. The farm system was ripe with talent with the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Lars Anderson,  Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden and Jed Lowrie as well as the recently graduated trio of Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon. The youth was plentiful, and other key long-term fixtures like Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Josh Becket and even Daisuke Matsuzaka seemingly meant that the team’s success at that time was potentially sustainable for a long time.

And for a while, that is exactly what happened. The next two years the team won exactly 95 games. In 2008 the Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS in game 7. In 2009 the team was swept by the Angels in the ALDS. However, since then, the Red Sox have finished no better than 3rd in the AL East, have not won over 90 games, and are now staring their third consecutive season without making the playoffs. For all the excitement that surrounded this roster, things surely never quite panned out like I’m sure we all hoped.

Jonathan Papelbon celebrates the final out of the 2007 World Series

So what happened? Well, that’s a complex question and isn’t what I am seeking to answer. There are numerous upon numerous things that went wrong. There were injuries. There were bad contracts handed out. There were underachieving players. There was bad luck. There were just flat out better teams that outplayed the Sox in a strong AL and an even stronger AL East.

I recently read a post on Bleacher Report talking about how it was poor trading from Theo Epstein that are most to blame for the Red Sox current woes. While I do think Theo made some pretty obvious mistakes, scapegoating him, specifically for his trades, didn’t quite settle easily with me. Since it was a silly Bleacher Report article from a silly Bleacher Report author, I feel no desire to link to it and increase his page hits. I just didn’t agree with it, and sought out to delve a bit into it.

Maybe he had a point, despite posting no specific evidence to support his claim. Maybe the Red Sox got too gung-ho in their desires to achieve immediate success, and thus made risky trades that ultimately backfired. There is an easy way to figure this out though and that’s to look at the trades.

What role did trades play into it? Specifically, did the Red Sox make any huge errors in their desire to continually contend rather than focus on the future?

By my count, since Papelbon struck out Seth Smith for the final out in 2007, the Red Sox have made just over 60 player trades. The vast majority of them were the exchanging of low level prospects that will never pan out and journeymen players that never really had any impact.

Perhaps none will have more of an impact than the blockbuster just pulled off with the Dodgers, but only time will tell who really won that trade.

The first major trade that happened after the Red Sox last World Series win was right before the non-waiver trade deadline the year after.

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July 31, 2008: The Dodgers sent Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche to the Pirates. The Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. The Red Sox sent Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates. The Pirates sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox.

 

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Billy Rohr

Billy Rohr was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates for $25,000 in 1963. The Pirates attempted to hide Rohr’s obvious skill by placing him on the disabled list the entire year. This did not fool the Red Sox who drafted Rohr in November that year.

Rohr would pitch well the following 3 years in the Red Sox system. In stints at Wellsville, Winston-Salem and the Red Sox AAA Toronto team Rohr demonstrated a knack for going deep into games, pitching 23 complete games.

In 1967, Rohr got his chance in the Big leagues. He went 2-3 with a 5.10 ERA in 10 appearances (8 starts). By the end of June, he was out of Boston and would pitch one more season in the Majors the following year for the Cleveland Indians.

So why am I writing about Billy Rohr? What makes him a remarkable part of Red Sox lore?

On April 14th, Rohr made his major league debut. It came against the New York Yankees. During their home opener. Versus future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Needless to say Rohr was nervous. Fellow Red Sox pitcher Dennis Bennett was quoted as saying “If he gets by the first inning, he’ll be okay. But he’s a nervous wreck right now.” How foreboding.

Reggie Smith lead the game off with a home run in the top of the first to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Rohr then pitched a perfect first inning. And a perfect second inning. And a perfect third. He found himself in a bit of a jam in the 4th inning, having walked two batters, but managed to escape unscathed. Continue reading »

As a youth growing up in Illinois, Charles “Red” Ruffing lost four toes on his left foot in a mining accident. The injury forced him to abandon his development as an outfielder and transition into a pitcher, a twist of fate that would carry the 6’1, 205-pound Ruffing all the way to Cooperstown.

Red Ruffing is in the Hall of Fame as a New York Yankee, but he began his career with the Red Sox on May 24th, 1924. The 19-year old endured a rough debut in Beantown, recording a 6.65 ERA with a 1.652 WHIP over just 21 innings of work.

In 1925, Ruffing’s innings pitched total shot up to 217.1, but he labored out a 9-18 record with a 5.01 ERA. Unfortunately, success was never to be for Ruffing in Boston. Over parts of 7 seasons with the Red Sox, the right-hander tallied a woeful 39-96 record with a 4.61 ERA, a 1.501 WHIP, and an ERA+ 92 (although the modern FIP metric suggests he was routinely the victim of some shoddy defense). He did toss 73 complete games for the Sox in that time, but was also twice a 20-game loser (in consecutive seasons, going 10-25 in 1928 and 9-22 in 1929).

Midway through the 1930 season Ruffing was traded to the Yankees for left-handed utility man Cedric Durst. Durst hit .245/.290/.351 with 1 homerun for the Red Sox over the last 102 games of that season, and then spent the next 16 years sporadically toiling in the minors. Ruffing, on the other hand, saw his career almost instantly change course upon his arrival in the Bronx. Continue reading »

Eddie Bressoud began his career with the New York Giants in 1956 (where he was a teammate of the incomparable Willie Mays), and then moved with the team out to San Francisco in 1958. Prior to the 1962 season, the Houston Colt .45′s (now the Astros) selected Bressoud from the Giants with the first pick in the expansion draft (both the Astros and the Mets made their franchise debut in 1962–making 2012 these teams’ 50th anniversaries).

Bressoud never played for the .45′s, though. Selected by Houston in October, they traded the 6’1, 175-pound 29-year old to the Red Sox that following November in exchange for Don Buddin.

Wearing #1, Bressoud would serve as Boston’s primary starting shortstop from 1962 to 1964, and part of 1965. Defensively, his 1962 season (in which he won the Thomas A. Yawkey Red Sox MVP award) was incredible and by far his best with a Total Zone rating of 16 runs above average. His following seasons were less illustrious with the glove, but he still left Boston with a positive Total Zone rating for his time there.

Eddie Bressoud (far right) poses with Bill Monbouquette and Dick Radatz.

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What if I told you former Red Sox pitcher Gene Conley won 3 championships for the city of Boston? Because that’s exactly what he did in 1959, 1960 and 1961.

You would probably say: “But the Red Sox didn’t win the World Series in any of those years!”

And you would be right. However, Gene Conley, who pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1961-1963, also served as Bill Russell’s backup for the Boston Celtics during those 3 championship seasons.

Conley played for the Boston Braves in 1952. He remained with the franchise as it relocated to become the Milwaukee Braves. This all leads to a few special distinctions regarding the multi-talented athlete.

1. He is the only professional athlete to play for three pro teams from the same city; the Boston Braves, the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics.

2. He is also the only professional athlete to win a championship in two different professional sports. Conley won the World Series with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 before going on to win 3 rings with the Celtics.

3. No other athlete can say they were teammates with Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy; 4 Hall of Famers spanning two professional sports.

And then there was one…

The trade of Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox Sunday leaves the Red Sox with only one carryover from the 2004 World Series winning team: David Ortiz. Youkilis might have not played a large role in that 2004 World Series championship, but he was bred to exemplify the personality that was birthed from those championship teams. He was one of the last of the true Boston Dirt Dogs; players molded from the likes of Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Kevin Millar, Lou Merloni and Jason Varitek. He was gritty, scrappy, hard-working, tenacious, dirty and intense on the field; but he was philanthropic, caring and sensitive off the field. He represented so much about what made the Red Sox so likable to so many fans during the mid-2000s, and his departure much like Theo Epstein’s, Jason Varitek’s and Tito Francona’s this off-season, signifies the loss of almost the final tangible reminder of those great times, and represents all but the end of an era.

 

It had been widely speculated for weeks now that Youkilis’ days with the Red Sox were all but over. It became so inevitable that during today’s game the Fenway Faithful gave him a touching and emotional standing ovation before his first at bat in what would untimely indeed end up being his last game as a Red Sox. If we know one thing about his future, it is that Kevin Youkilis will forever be loved by Red Sox Nation, and we were pleasantly reminded of that today.

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The Red Sox weren’t always the only team in Boston. The Atlanta Braves, who come to Fenway this weekend, began their tremendous history in Bean Town, too.

The 1914 Boston Braves

The Braves franchise went through eight different names while in Boston: the Red Stockings, the Red Caps, the Beaneaters, the Doves, the Rustlers, the Braves, the Bees, and the Braves (again). In 1914, during the first stint as the Braves, it went from last place to first place in a span of two months. That incredible run took them to the World Series, where they beat the legendary Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in four games (the first sweep in World Series history).

The best hitter on that champion Boston Braves team was 30-year old outfielder Joe Connolly. Batting from the left side of the plate and listed at 5’7 and 165 pounds, Connolly tormented National League pitchers during the 1914 season. He tallied a .306/.393/.494 line (leading his team in all three categories) with 28 doubles, 10 triples, 9 homeruns, 65 RBI, and an OPS+159.

Connolly had a rough World Series, though: he hit only .111/.182/.111 with 1 RBI in that 11th Fall Classic.

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This is Ossee Schrecongost. Nicknamed ‘Schreck’, he was the catcher for the 1901 Boston Americans, and was the first catcher in the history of the franchise that would come to be known as the Boston Red Sox.

Schreck played his final game on October 2nd, 1908, with the White Sox against the Cleveland Naps.

Why is that interesting? Because Cleveland’s Addie Joss (HOF) pitched a perfect game (MLB’s 4th ever) against the White Sox that day, needing just 74 pitches to do it; the lowest pitch count ever recorded in a perfect game.

Both Schrecongost and Joss died before their 40th birthdays, Schrecongost succumbing to kidney failure and Joss to tuberculous meningitis.

Jimmie Foxx

1901: Buck Freeman becomes the first Boston player ever to hit two home runs in one game.

1930: The Red Sox record a triple play against the New York Yankees. First Baseman Phil Todt started the triple play.

1942: Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx’ is released by the Red Sox, ending his very successful tenure in Boston. Foxx, who went to play for the Chicago Cubs following his release, hit 222 home runs and won the 1938 MVP award while with Boston.

On May 16th, 1970, the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians by the score of 6-2 behind a complete game by Red Sox starter Ray Culp. Carl Yastrzemski went 2-3 with a double and a home run, and Tony Conigliaro and Rico Petrocelli also added home runs for the Red Sox. It was played at Fenway Park and the attendance was only 19,485 and the game only lasted 2 hours and ten minutes.

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