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!

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 gone 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.