This is my ode about the time I spent with my grandfather on Cape Cod. I hope to honor the summers we shared and the teams we rooted for by reuniting a game used bat for every Red Sox position player from 1975 to 1986. This is for you Gus!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Juan Beniquez

Juan Beniquez was a man who was always on the move; whether from an infield position to the outfield or across the American League, where he wore 8 different jerseys over 17 years. Beniquez made his Major League debut with the Red Sox as a September call up in 1971, where he settled in at shortstop behind future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. In 1974 Beniquez was moved to the outfield to get more playing time, but shortly after ran into the rookie tandem of Jim Rice and Fred Lynn and was once again the odd man out. Red Sox brass moved Beniquez to the Angels before the start of the 1976 season.

My father-in-law used to run into Beniquez at a Framingham Spanish market that catered to the local Puerto Rican population. It turns out that Beniquez had a sister that lived on Pine St in Framingham and he would come to town for home cooked food like that which he grew up on in San Sebastian Puerto Rico. When I first heard this story, I realized two things about Beniquez. First, he must have been homesick playing and living so far from the island he grew up on and second, he could not have cared much for his dear sister's well being. Pine St is dangerous now, as a quick glance at the town newspaper will backup, but in the 1970's it was an absolute war zone. Regardless, Boston was just a short stop on a long road that saw Beniquez until 1989, where he hit .359 with the St Lucie Legends before finally calling it quits.

29 bats down 54 to go.

Thank you to Giovanni Balistreri for allowing me to use this custom made Beniquez card from his blog, When Topps Had (Base)balls.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Roger LaFrancois

It was during the pre-internet era that my high school teacher first opened my eyes to the possibilities of shared technology networking. Despite moving at a snail's pace, initiating horrendous dial up screeching and providing little or no useable information, it was with great pride that he unveiled this new technical marvel. More than thirty years have passed since then and the wave of technology that we were promised became a monsoon. Modern smartphones outperform the super computers of the eighties and everything you might need is at your fingertips. For this unflagging Red Sox fanatic that can only mean one thing; game used bats. Several hours of my time weekly is spent searching eBay, numerous auction sites and those places, in the darkest reaches of the internet, where fellow collectors unashamedly share their passion for game used items without the fear of being labeled a nerd.

Despite my diligence, there are always a few bats that pass by without my notice. Roger LaFrancois is one such bat. I have spent the better part of a decade searching for one, to no avail. Long rumored among Red Sox bat collectors to be a tough find, my hopes of locating a LaFrancois gamer had begun to wane. That is, until my old collecting buddy Craig gave me a call to tell me that he had  purchased a lot of bats on eBay.  Listed in the wrong category, poorly titled and having misspelled most of the key information, the auction would of gone unnoticed if not for the keen bat hunting skills of an old friend. In that lot of bats was a LaFrancois that is now proudly displayed in my "bat cave". Thank you Craig, for coming through again.

28 bats down 55 to go.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ted Cox

There were great expectations for Ted Cox when he was drafted in the first round of the 1973 amateur draft, and for a brief period he lived up to them. In 1977, Cox was named the Topps Minor League Player of the Year as well as International League MVP. His efforts that year earned him a September call-up, where he promptly set a Major League record for most consecutive at bats with a hit to start a career, with six. Despite his auspicious beginning, Cox had trouble breaking into an outfield already being patrolled by Red Sox legends Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans. Aware of Cox's trade value, the Sox used him to sweeten the pot in a deal that brought future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley to Boston before the start of the 1978 season.
The Ted Cox bat in my collection is of particular interest, as it was from the very earliest days of his professional career. Ordered some time between 1973 and 1975 while Cox was still in "A ball", where he was young, had momentum and his potential seemed limitless. Sadly, that is not how things turned out for the big outfielder as he played just four seasons with three different teams after he was traded away from Boston.

27 bats down 56 to go.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Steve Lyons

Baseball Reference lists the career of Steve Lyons as being statistically most similar to the careers of Thurman Tucker and Tuck Steinback, however most baseball fans associate Wally Moon and Heine Manush as being more reminiscent of Steve Lyons' on the field legacy. This is due to Lyons' actions in a 1990 game between the White Sox and Tigers where he dropped trou after sliding head first into first base, becoming the butt-end of countless jokes and living up to his nickname; "Physco."

Lyons was taken 19th overall by the Red Sox in the 1981 draft and debuted for the Sox on April 15, 1985. Lyons spent the next year and half platooning in center field before being shipped off to the White Sox for future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Lyons played seven more season and returned to the Red Sox on two more occasions, where he was warmly received by the Fenway faithful. Lyons hung them up at the end of the 1993 season and tried his hand at acting, appearing in Arli$$, Major League II and For the Love of the Game. More recently Lyons has found a home in Fenway's announcer's booth, where he has filled in as color man since the 2014 season.

26 bats down 57 to go.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pat Dodson

The one thing I have learned during my thirty plus years of collecting, is that there are as many reasons to collect as there are collectors. There are also stages of collecting and those who are in it for the long haul tend to become helpers and educators to new collectors. I was fortunate enough to meet one such person.

When I first started assembling my collection I advertised on several popular collecting forums. One of the first responses I received was an encouraging email from a gentleman named Jeff, and shortly after, I found a package on my doorstep from the same collector. Inside was a game used Pat Dodson bat to help get my collection started. In the months that followed we emailed back and forth and I discovered that Jeff was not just any game used bat collector, but the owner of what must be the finest collection of Red Sox gamers in existence.

Now in his forth decade of collecting, Jeff is just four bats short of meeting his goal of finding a game used bat for every Red Sox position player who suited up since the 1960 season. The bats that have eluded him are: Carmen Fanzone, Ken Poulsen, George Smith and Bobby Thompson. If you have one of these bats or know where one is hiding, please contact me so I can help a fellow bat collector and friend finish his set.

25 bats down 58 to go.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bobby Darwin

There is a small fraternity of big leaguers who started their careers as pitchers and transitioned into position players. Bobby Darwin was one of those players. Originally signed as a pitcher by the Los Angeles Angels in 1962, Bobby made his major league debut on the final day of that same season. After three innings, eight hits and six runs he was promptly designated for assignment in the Angel's minor league system.

Nine years later Darwin was back in the show, this time as an Dodgers outfielder. Between 1972 and 1974 Darwin led the American League in strikeouts and tape measure home runs. His most prolific blast occurred on May 26, 1974, when he became just the second player ever to reach the second deck at Metropolitan Stadium, some 515 feet from home plate.

By the time Darwin was traded to the Red Sox for Bernie Carbo there was no magic left in his bat. He hit just .183 with 3 home runs in 47 games for the Sox. In May of 1977 he was traded to the Cubs where he would play just eleven more games before hanging them up.

24 bats down 59 to go.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rick Burleson

For the better part of the 1970's Rick Burleson strutted around the middle infield of Fenway Park. Known as the "Rooster", Burleson had a fiery nature and the look of a man who came to fight. Despite an obvious lack of range and experience, by an act of sheer will Burleson was able to take the starting shortstop job away from Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. In his first start Burleson committed three errors, a record that stands to this day for a Major League debut. Ever confident, Burleson quickly turned things around and in 1979 won a Gold Glove award and the following year led all American League shortstops in putouts, assists and double plays.

Despite becoming a defensive stalwart and playing in four All Star games, when I think of Rick Burleson I am reminded of Craig, my sandlot teammate and dyed in the wool Burleson fan. Before 24 hour sports coverage, when catching a Sox game on TV38 was a special occasion, all we knew of the hometown team was found in well read yearbooks and on the backs of baseball cards. Ironically, in a time when we knew less about the players, they somehow seemed more accessible. Every time we took the field to play, a litany was said. Started by Craig with, "I'm Rick Burleson," the roll call continued until everyone had chosen a player and usually ended with, "I'm Reggie Jackson." This coming from some kid from New York or New Jersey visiting their grandparents on the Cape.

It's been over 30 years since we last played on the sandlot. The warped bench, the chicken wire backstop and the rusty fence in left field that guarded an overgrown tennis court are all gone. To satisfy the hunger for summer homes and retirement condos, a complex was placed there. Like most buildings that spring from rapid fire expansion, it is soulless. Aluminum sided, box shaped buildings and landscaped grounds with automatic sprinkler systems now ensure that any trace of the tall tufts of grass, rocks and sand we called a field will never return. Despite the depressing reality of "progress", I can count on this; every day when I head to work and open the door to my office, a tiny voice inside me still says, "I'm Carlton Fisk."

23 bats down 60 to go.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Mike O'Berry

Anyone who knew me as a preteen had no doubts that my allegiance belonged to Carlton Fisk. I was obsessed. In Little League I strolled up to the plate, put my right foot in the box, held my bat up in front of me and inspected the barrel just as I had seen him do so many times before. Once satisfied that I had copied every one of his mannerisms, I got into the same closed stance Fisk employed while he was still with the Sox. Besides occupying center stage on the pedestal of my youth, Carlton Fisk also played talent blocker and dream crusher for a slew of talented young backstops in the Red Sox organization during the 1970's. Mike O'Berry was one such victim.

A native Alabamian, Mike O'Berry attended the University of Southern Alabama where he was spotted by Milt Bolling and picked by the Sox in the second round of the 1975 draft. Once in the Red Sox farm system O'Berry joined Tim Blackwell, Andy Merchant, Ernie Whitt, Bo Diaz and Gary Allenson in a frustrating game of waiting and wishing. Besides Allenson, O'Berry and the rest of the bunch found that the only path to the show was to move on from the organization. And move on he did! After exiting Boston, O'Berry suited up for the Cubs, Reds, Angels, Yankees and Expos. Five years later and out of options, O'Berry hung them up and gave coaching a try, first in the Orioles' farm system and then back home in Alabama at Pelham High School. It was as a high school coach that O'Berry experienced his greatest baseball success, turning a struggling program into a nationally ranked team.

22 bats down 61 to go.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bob Montgomery

Bob Montgomery possessed two traits that kept him employed with the Red Sox organization. First, he was steady. He could be relied upon not to embarrass the team on the rare occasion he saw playing time. Second, he was able to accept his station in life; perennial back-up to Carlton Fisk. When Fisk went down during spring training in '75 and it looked as though Montgomery might  finally crack the starting line-up, Sox management split the catching duties between Montgomery and several rookie catchers and he ended up watching 100 games from the bench. Poor guy couldn't catch a break.

Although Montgomery was steady and dependable, he also had a bit of a wild side, having earned his pilot's license while playing for the Sox and having the distinction of being the last Major League player to enter the batter's box without a batting helmet. The era in which he chose to do these things makes it even more remarkable. It was not long after Yankee's backstop Thurman Munson demonstrated that ball players should think twice before entering a cockpit, that Montgomery could be found buzzing around Winter Haven, Florida. Even scarier, Montgomery willing went to bat without a helmet in an era when the likes of Nolan Ryan prowled the mound and took special pride in throwing high and inside to batters just to remind them who rightfully owned the inner half of the plate.

21 bats down 62 to go.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gary Allenson

Looking back, I feel bad for Gary Allenson. However, when I was eleven, I could not stand the sight of him. Through no fault of his own Allenson had the misfortune of taking over for one of the most beloved of Yawkey's heroes, Carlton Fisk. It didn't help Allenson that the only thing the two men shared were the tools of ignorance. Allenson was squat and utilitarian while Fisk was tall an buttery smooth behind the dish. But more than anything, fans were upset that a Californian was taking the place of one of our own. How could Fisk, the product of Charlestown, New Hampshire be suiting up for Sox of another color in some place far from of the six states we call home?

At some point between junior high, braces and pimples and becoming a mortgage paying, minivan driving suburban schlub, my stance on Allenson softened. I can't imagine the pressure he faced following in the footsteps of a local legend and future Hall of Famer. Sadly, that seems to have been the least of his problems. It is no secret that during Allenson's time in Boston, Haywood Sullivan was doing everything in his power to promote the career of another catcher in the organization, his son Marc. Mercifully, Allenson was able to escape the cauldron at Fenway park for the calmer waters of Toronto. Allenson finished out his career North of the border in the same way he played the game; quietly, professionally and with little fanfare.

20 bats down 63 to go.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tom Poquette

"I remember seeing the pool of blood on the ground. I tried to get up, but I couldn't," is how Tom Poquette recalls a game against the White Sox on June 22, 1976. During that game Poquette chased a deep fly ball off the bat of Kevin Bell and crashed into the wall a split second before being able to make the play. Poquette's effort resulted in a broken cheekbone for him and an in the park grand slam for his opponent. In his words, "I played hard because I had to. I had to work for everything because it did not come easy." I am sure the 18,125 fans at the park that night would agree with him.

Hustling in the field may make you a suitable outfielder, but you can't hide from the truth inside the batter's box. After being pulled for a reliever in 1977, Mike Torrez summed it up when he said, "If I can't get Tom Poquette out I should quit this game." Of course Torrez didn't quit the game and a couple seasons later the two were teammates in Boston. Poquette did his best to turn things around after being traded, but a rotator cuff injury injury mid way through the 1979 campaign sidelined him until the 1981 season. The Sox were deep in outfield talent in 1981 and released Poquette after only 3 games. Poquette was quickly picked up by Texas before being moved again, this time back to Kansas City, where he retired after the 1982 season.

19 bats down 64 to go.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tony Perez

You can blame pork and beans for my distrust of certain statistics, namely runs batted in. Pork and beans you say?  Stokely-Van Camps pork and beans to be precise. It was in a guard shack located on the grounds of their Kansas cannery that an unknown statistical genius named Bill James plied his craft and changed the landscape of baseball as we know it. To some James is a hero; a lone voice calling for logical interpretation of a complex game. To others he is a gratuitous hack; disputer of a simpler game and time. Regardless of how we see him, he changed how we see the game.

To Bill James, players like Tony Perez were overrated and overpaid.  Great "rbi men" as they were called, were held up on a pedestal for driving runners across the plate. James saw something different. James was the first to go on record saying that rbi's are the result of a high on base percentage by the players preceding the player credited with an rbi. Seems logical now, but by 1980's baseball standards it was positively heretical. When Tony Perez joined the Red Sox in 1980 the words of Bill James were greatly ignored by those who ran the game and Boston celebrated the arrival of their new rbi king. Three seasons and 175 rbi's later, having failed to reach the postseason even once, the Sox released Perez.

18 bats down 65 to go.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fred Kendall

I spent most of the 10 weeks that separate school years on Cape Cod with my grandparents. Maybe it’s my age or my penchant to idealize summertime memories, but they were good times. I worked beside my grandfather on the milk truck every morning. He woke me at 4:30am! Afternoons I played baseball with Craig, his brother Brian and an ever changing assortment of neighborhood kids. We claimed an abandoned park as our own. Sandy, with grass to our knees, it had the remains of a tennis court fence in left field that we pretended was Fenway’s Green Monster. When we wanted to cool down we rode our bikes to the beach or sat beneath backyard shade trees and traded cards.

In middle school our collections were without direction and our trades were motivated by the desire to repopulate the nine pocket pages that filled our vinyl sports card albums. The memories of specific trades have been lost to time but the adventure of swapping and the laughs we had are still a part of my memory of sunny summer afternoons. Times have changed and Craig and I have too. It has been more than 30 years since we opened our binders and traded cards, but last month, standing in a parking lot outside a card show at a Holiday Inn we engineered another trade; a straight up swap of Tommy Harper and Fred Kendall game used bats. The more things change, the more they stay they same.

17 bats down 66 to go.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dave Henderson

When I first started thinking about writing this post my focus was predictably on Dave Henderson’s dramatic game 5 ALCS homerun. It was a moment that brought hope and the belief that the 1986 Red Sox were a team of destiny. Of course history records something different and Boston fans had to wait 18 more seasons to see a World Championship Red Sox team. While grazing the internet I discovered that history records Henderson’s life and career differently than shown by that never ending highlight loop of his homerun in Anaheim.

Often as fans we glorify the public achievements of the players we root for and ignore the man and his actions off of the field. In a time when turning on ESPN ensures yet another story of domestic violence, drug arrests or multi-million dollar salary disputes, what I found written about Dave Henderson certainly caught me by surprise and changed how I view the man. Henderson past away just after Christmas last year and instead of a torrid string of articles about drugs, mistresses and gambling, what was put out about him were articles about a man with a big smile and an even bigger heart. Countless families came forward telling of visits to sick children in hospitals across the country, teammates wrote about his ability to make peace among angry teammates and usually skeptical sports reporters spoke of him in term of endearment.  Hendu, I am glad you were a member of our team, if only for a few short years.

16 bats down 67 to go.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Mike Stenhouse

When Mike Stenhouse suited up for the Red Sox in 1986 he was on the southbound slope of a career trajectory that saw him go from prospect to suspect. A top high school prospect, Stenhouse turned down scholarship offers from every major program to attend Harvard, where he made the All Ivy League Team his freshman year and found a roster spot with the Chatham A's of the vaunted Cape Cod League that summer. Drafted fourth overall by the Montreal Expos in 1980, Stenhouse worked his way up through their system and in 1983 was named Expos Minor League Player of the Year.

Stenhouse was invited to spring training with the Expos in 1984 and made the most of his opportunity by setting a team record for preseason home runs and earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. It wasn't long after that things began to unravel for Stenhouse and he was dealt to Minnesota where he quickly wore out his welcome and was moved again, this time to Boston. Stenhouse was unable to regain his hitting prowess with Boston and spent most of the 1986 season with Pawtucket. Stenhouse sums it up best in the introduction to the book Mendoza's Heroes where he writes, "The only thing I find more astonishing than someone writing a book about below .200 hitters is that I am in a book about below .200 hitters. It just wasn't supposed to end up this way."

15 bats down 68 to go.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jim Rice

Bill James once wrote that, "giving Fenway Park to Jim Rice was like giving Superman brass knuckles." The truth is, for a period of time in the late 1970's no batter gave pitchers the night sweats quite like Rice. He appeared absolutely calm waiting on a pitch, but then a gazelle might say the same about a hungry lion laying in the tall grass of the savannah.

Rice played his entire career for the Red Sox, blasting 382 home runs and driving in 1451 rbi's while maintaining a batting average near .300. Impressive as those numbers are they do not begin to tell the whole story. In a three year stretch from 1977 - 79, Rice hit 124 home runs, drove in 383 rbi's, averaged .320 and led the American League in total bases each season. Not eye popping enough? In 1978 Rice led the American League in at-bats, hits, runs batted in, triples, home runs, extra base hits, total bases, times on base and slugging percentage. That season he also played in 163 games. Rice's number 14 was retired by the Red Sox in 2009.

14 bats down 69 bats to go.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mike Easler

When David Mullany invented the wiffle ball for his son in 1953 he had no way of knowing that millions of American kids would grow up playing his game. Another thing he would have no way of knowing is that the perfect swing and follow through when hitting a wiffle ball resembles that of Mike Easler. However, during the summer of 1984 my friends and I realized this fact and what followed was a wiffle ball season for the ages.

We were 14 years old and spent most of our spare time at Butterworth Park in Framingham. Outdated and run down, the park did have one thing to draw us, an enormous grandstand with a 35 foot cement wall on its backside. The old stone surface had ledges and cracks that we used to determine the outcomes of our games. A single, double or triple were measured by how many ledges up the wiffle ball hit. If the ball was caught before falling back down onto the wavy blacktop the batter was out, if not, the hit counted. Any ball hit over the grandstand was a home run.

I don't remember who tried Easler's uncomfortable, exaggerated stance first. What I do remember is that wiffle balls began flying over that old grandstand at a rate higher than any of our previous 162 game seasons. Despite the epic number of dingers we hit that year we will never know how long our record went unchallenged because by the start of the new school year we had all turned our attention to a much more interesting and complicated pastime; girls.

13 bats down 70 to go.

Epilogue: Not long ago I drove by Butterworth Park just as a bulldozer was turning the old grandstand into a pile of broken cement chunks. I am glad to have spent time there in my youth.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bo Diaz

I have been collecting baseball memorabilia in one form or another for the better part of 40 years and my collection reflects my changing interests over time. When I was younger my collection was a competition with friends. Being the first to complete a Topps set was a special point of pride. With some maturity and the availability of complete sets in the Sears Christmas catalog, my interests began to change. Now, many years later, I see my collection as a way of preserving memories, connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. One new relationship resulted in this Bo Diaz bat.

A few years ago when I  regularly contributed to Sports Collectors Daily, I interviewed Ryan Anderson of Crown Sports Auctions for an article I was writing about his auction house. Ryan was great to work with and expressed an interest in helping bat collectors fill holes in their collections. Well, Ryan lived up to his words. A few weeks after I started this blog, I received a phone call from Ryan. He had seen 83 Bats and asked if I had a Diaz bat yet because he had one to give me. Thank you Ryan, the Bo Diaz bat reduced my want list by one, but more importantly it is a reminder that friendships are the most important part of this hobby.

12 bats down 71 to go.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reid Nichols

My grandfather liked Reid Nichols. Raised on a small farm during the depression he could be accurately described as a practical man. So when he took me to a couple of games during the 1982 season and Reid Nichols homered once in the first game and twice in the second game, Gus felt he got his money's worth.

That same summer I was trying to leave my awkward middle school persona behind by participating  in that All-American pathway to high school glory; football. Suddenly buying packs of baseball cards at Cintolo's Market wasn't so important, and for one summer following the Sox wasn't either. Things were changing fast for me and the career of Reid Nichols was barely a blip on my screen.

Reid Nichols was used primarily as a fourth outfielder and pinch hitter during his six seasons with Boston. Never able to break into the starting nine, he was dealt to the White Sox for Tim Lollar midway through the 1985 season. Although Nichols did not make a big splash with Fenway's Faithful, the old Swede I spent my summers with saw something special in him. For that Reid Nichols I thank you ... wherever you are.

11 bats down 72 to go.

Friday, June 10, 2016

LaSchelle Tarver

If not for a September surge of an age old rivalry, a liberal beer sales policy at Yankee Stadium and one Thomas J. Nihill, the month long Major League career of LaSchelle Tarver may have been lost to history. A career minor leaguer who's 13 games in the show produced an anemic .120 slugging percentage, the only evidence Tarver actually wielded a bat can be found in a September 13, 1986 police report.

On that day Jim Rice pursued a fly ball into the Yankee Stadium stands and when he emerged from the crowd he was without the ball and his hat. Madness ensued. Within seconds Rice was joined by his Red Sox teammates, including LaSchelle Tarver who was carrying a bat. When the dust settled Yankees fan Thomas J. Nihill was in cuffs, Jim Rice had his hat back and LaSchelle Tarver, having once again failed to make contact, was not charged with a crime.

10 bats down 73 to go.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Stan Papi

Before there was Big Papi there was Stan Papi, but in the hearts of Fenway's faithful they could not have been more different. Stan Papi was brought to Boston for one reason, to move eccentric, left leaning, fan favorite Bill Lee out of town. Fans never let him forget it and instead of welcoming him with open arms he was treated with the cold shoulders of an entire city.

Papi's short lived stint with Boston also marks the period that my family temporarily moved from Framingham Massachusetts, a city of brick smokestacks and diehard Red Sox fans to a small town in central Connecticut with rolling hills of tobacco and people who actually root for the Yankees. Things could not have felt more foreign to me and I struggled to find my place in a new community. I imagine that Papi felt the same, but for his part he never complained. My mother has a different story to tell about me. After little more than a season Papi was traded to Philadelphia and I was starting a new school year back in Red Sox country. Even though both Papi and I experienced tough times in 1979 things improved for both of us with the changing of the decade.

9 bats down 74 to go.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jeff Newman

The closer I look at the careers of the men I grew up idolizing the more I realize that their stories are less like that of Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski and more like Jeff Newman's. Newman was not an All Star but a craftsman who spent six years in the minor leagues learning his trade before getting the opportunity to go to work at the major league level. Once there Newman never rose above third on the catching depth chart despite spending nine years between Oakland and Boston.

Even though he never garnered the adulation that some of his teammates took for granted and the post career aches and pains that must be Newman's constant companion, I have to believe that he wouldn't trade having been a ball player for any other profession. After all he is able to claim to have pitched one scoreless inning in relief and to have utterly owned pitcher Wayne Garland, whom Newman went 13 for 18 against with two home runs. That sounds like a great career to me.

8 bats down 75 to go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Marty Barrett

Some players arrive at the Major League level with bodies that look like they were carved from granite. Marty Barrett was not one of those players. In fact, Barrett looked more like Barney Rubble in a double knit jersey than an athlete, but looks can be deceiving.                                                                                                                                                                    Barrett played nine seasons of his decade long Major League career on the infield dirt at Fenway. Despite his unfortunate build he was an excellent fielder and a reliable bat for the Sox and was a fan favorite during the 1980's. Barrett played the game hard and always seemed to have a trick up his sleeve. Barrett pulled off the hidden ball trick three times in his career, including twice in July of 1985 and became a longtime fixture in the NESN highlight loop for one time stealing second base by stopping his slide early, popping up and stepping over the outstretched glove of a dumbfounded Billy Ripken.

7 bats down 76 to go.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Marc Sullivan

Actual text message from my friend Craig, "Saw you won that Marc Sullivan bat on ebay. Nice. Good luck writing about him without a mention of nepotism." Challenge accepted.

Marc Sullivan was drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 1979 amateur draft after being named an All American at the University of Florida. A defensive specialist, Sullivan struggled at the plate at every level of professional baseball and never broke the Mendoza line once joining the parent club. Sullivan played a total of 137 games for the Sox during his career including just four games during a three year stretch.

After digging for information, I have come to two conclusions. First, Marc Sullivan may very well have had the most undistinguished and mediocre career of any player during my childhood. No humorous stories, memorable practical jokes or game winning home runs have been recorded to argue otherwise. Second, Craig you were right, I can't do it without a mention of nepotism. Marc and Haywood Sullivan were the first player and owner family combination in baseball since Earle and Connie Mack almost 70 years earlier.

6 bats down 77 to go.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Andy Merchant

Andy Merchant was born on Ted Williams' 32nd birthday and from an early age made a name for himself on the fields of Mobile Alabama. Recruited by Auburn, Merchant once pounded out six hits in a single game and was named to the All S.E.C. team his senior year. With talent like that it wasn't long before Milt Bolling signed another prospect from the deep South to a Red Sox contract.

Despite high hopes Merchant found himself in a glut of catching talent stuck behind Carlton Fisk and only saw Major League action in three games between the 1975 and 76 seasons. After his last cup of coffee Merchant returned to Pawtucket where he platooned with Gary Allenson through the end of the 1979 season. A January 1980 phone call from the Sox front office inviting Merchant to spring training was cut short due to bad reception and led to a misunderstanding that found Merchant working full-time for Alabama Power and Red Sox management looking at his empty locker in Winter Haven wondering where he was.

5 bats down 78 to go.