Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Splendid Splinter

Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters to ever live. He was the last player to hit over .400 (.406 in 1941), but lost the MVP that year to Joe DiMaggio, who put together a 56 game hitting streak in the same season. Teddy Ballgame won the triple crown twice (1942, 1947), took time out of his playing career to serve his country on two separate occasions, and hammered the last pitch he ever saw into the bullpen at Fenway Park. He's probably the best left fielder to ever play the game, but as far as Boston sports personalities go, he wasn't nearly as memorable as some of the other Sox tin hat franchise's storied history, and truth of it is, the above clip is more impressive to me for its footage of the old ballyards than for anything else.

As a result, to lead us into the upcoming weekend jaunt to Paul Revere's former stomping ground, here are some of the more entertaining figures in Boston Red Sox history, as well as the reasons we cherish them so:

Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd:

"That's what you get for building a ballpark on the ocean".

- Oil Can, explaining why the Sox-Indians game was postponed due to fog... And yes, the Indians still play in Cleveland.

Manny Ramirez:

Click HERE to see one of the all-time clips of Manny being Manny. My favourite part is the Red Sox announcers laughing hysterically as Jason Varitek grounds into the 1-6-4-3 DP.

"Sometimes you just wanna fix your friend's hair..."

Carlton Fisk:

There are few home runs more memorable than THIS ONE.

(By the way, they really need to bring back that tradition of fans running all over the field after a history-making home run. That looks like a lot of fun... except for the guy who gets the forearm shiver from Pudge.)

Bill "The Spaceman" Lee:

(Taken from Wikipedia) Lee's popularity was because of his personality, which gave him the nickname Spaceman. The USC graduate was an intelligent, articulate, humorous voice, and his outspoken manner meant his views were frequently recorded in the press. He spoke in defense of Maoist China (once visiting, only to lampoon it endlessly), population control, Greenpeace, school busing in Boston and anything else that happened to cross his mind. He berated an umpire for a controversial call in the 1975 World Series, threatening to bite off his ear and encouraging the American people to write letters demanding the game be replayed. He ate health food and practiced yoga. He claimed his marijuana use made him impervious to bus fumes while jogging to work at Fenway Park. He sang Warren Zevon songs at times, and in an act of mutual admiration, Zevon recorded a song entitled "Bill Lee" on his album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. In a college town like Boston, his views were shared by many youths, and they quickly became Lee's biggest fans.

Despite his views on off-the-field matters, Lee was respected by fellow players, who believed his cajoling of the press took pressure off the team, and his attitude on the field was pure business. He was intensely competitive, and worked quickly, which always endears a pitcher to his teammates.

But Lee would often speak out on matters concerning the team and was not afraid to criticize management, causing him to be dropped from both the Red Sox and Expos.

Lee countered his offbeat politics with a strong sense of the game. He is an avowed purist and traditionalist, speaking out against the designated hitter, AstroTurf and polyester uniforms, while conversely extolling the virtues of day games and Sunday doubleheaders.

In THIS interview while playing for Les Expos de Montreal, he revealed the secret to pitching success: "I just had a lot of pancakes before the ballgame, in the morning, and then I went out and had a beer and a steak, and ah... go get'em!"

Wade Boggs:

The subject of one of the greatest on-air interviews of all-time, the transcript of which can be read HERE.

And with that, I'm off to enjoy a few Boggs of my own.


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