On This Date In History: The World Series Gets An Early Start

Here's a post for all of our history buffs.

The United States entered World War I in April of 1917. As the war continued on, the military was in need of men to serve their country.  In June of 1918, Provost Marshall General Crowder issued his "work or fight" order.  Below is a quote from the New York Times on the announcement.
"Instructions to draft boards were issued today by Provost Marshall General Crowder explaining and amplifying the work or fight order under which after July 1 all men of draft age, regardless of their classification must engage in employment held to be productive or join the army."

Baseball was not declared "productive" and as a result,  the government ordered that the baseball season be cut off on Labor Day, September 2, 1918.  Every major league team was greatly affected by the order as they all lost players to their required military service.  The Red Sox were completely overhauled by team executive Ed Barrow.  He filled up the depleted roster with guys from other teams but his biggest success was playing Babe Ruth in the outfield for the first time.  Babe responded by hitting .300 with 11 triples, 11 home runs and 66 RBI's.  The well managed Sox took over the AL lead and landed in the World Series.

The NL club that managed the work order best was the Cubs.  They were not as depleted as the defending NL champion NY Giants who ended up finishing 10.5 games behind the Cubs.

On September 5, 1918, the World Series started, one month earlier than it was scheduled to begin.  The Red Sox took game one in Chicago with Ruth on the mound, 1 - 0.  The Cubs won the second game at home but the Sox came back and got the victory in game three by a score of 3 - 1.   As the series headed to Boston for game four, there were rumblings that the players were not going to be paid their prize money for competing in the World Series.  The players from both teams threated to boycott the rest of the Series due to the potential non-payment.  Prior to game four at Fenway, the Mayor of Boston made a plea of patriotism to the players who gave in and finished the series.  The players compromise proposal was that the owners donate all proceeds to a war charity, which the owners never actually carried out.  They played game four, and with Ruth on the mound again Boston won 3 - 2.  The Cubs took game five and on September 11,  the Sox went on to win game six and the 1918 World Series.

As all baseball fans know, the 1918 World Series win would be the Red Sox last until 2004.  The 1918 World Series remains the only Series to be played entirely in September.

 

 

Cubs owner Charlie Weeghman and Manager Fred Mitchell

September 5, 2012 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Johnny Pesky - In Memoriam

 

The Red Sox Nation and whole of the baseball world was saddened to learn that the legendary Johnny Pesky passed away yesterday. A Red Sox legend, Navy Veteran, and all around great-guy, Pesky's accomplishments loom large in baseball lore.

Pesky was born John Michael Paveskovich in Portland, Oregon on September 27, 1919. Pesky (he changed his name legally in 1947) was the son of Croatian immigrants. Pesky looked for every chance he could play as a youth in Portland, playing American Legion and even semi-pro ball in addition to high school baseball to get better. He helped support his family by working for the Portland Beavers, the local Pacific Coast League team, where future stars and friends like Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr were playing.

Pesky's strong play caught the eyes of Major League scouts. The Cardinals offered him a $2500 bonus, but he signed with the Red Sox for just $500 after the Red Sox scout had thoroughly impressed his parents. At the age of 20, Pesky was off to play in the Red Sox farm system. Pesky's strong play and consistent average would have him in the big leagues in just two years.

However, as Pesky entered his first big league Spring Training in 1942, larger events loomed over the world. Pearl Harbor had been bombed just three months earlier, as war was imminent for all of Major League Baseball. Pesky would have a sterling rookie season, hitting .331 as he finished third in the American League MVP voting. All the while, he was training for the military, attending Navy aviator training three nights a week with teammate Ted Williams.

Pesky, like many Major League Baseball players, left baseball to serve in the military after the season. Military service would take three years out of Pesky's young career. But in the service he met his future wife Ruth, to whom he remained married for another sixty years.

In 1946, with the war over, Pesky and his teammates returned to the Red Sox. Pesky would have perhaps his finest season that year as he hit .335 and earned his first and only All-Star Game appearance. The Red Sox won the American League pennant, but fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the World Series. It would be Pesky's only postseason.

Pesky formed a great friendship with his teammates Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio, and Bobby Doerr in those years. All from the West Coast, they came up through the Red Sox together and served in the military. They spent seven seasons together with the Sox, but would remain best friends for more than half a century.

Pesky would continue on playing with the Red Sox through 1952, consistently posting high batting averages to go with his strong fielding at shortstop. He had little power in his game, but after his rare home runs were hit to the right field foul pole in Fenway Park a nickname was earned. That right field pole, then and forever, is "Pesky's Pole" --the shortest distance to hit a home run in baseball.

In '52, as the Red Sox tried to start a youth movement, Pesky was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Pesky, now in decline would play two seasons with the Tigers before being traded midway through the '54 season to the Washington Senators, which would mark Pesky's final season.

Pesky would go on to have a long and varied post-playing career. He began as a coach for the Red Sox, later managing for two seasons, before moving on to coach with the Pirates. He would go on to commentate for Boston for five years, before returning to first base coach the Sox for another decade. He became a marketer and club ambassador all the while, gaining a reputation for showing up to every Red Sox-related function in New England. He would remain a special instructor for the Red Sox even after that, found in the dugout during most Red Sox games.

Pesky remained a legend in Boston, and was honored for his service to the club. He's a charter member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and saw his number six retired by Boston in 2008. When Fenway Park celebrated its 100th Anniversary on April 20th, 2012, Pesky was there, rolled out to second base alongside his teammate and friend Bobby Doerr.

Another one of The Teammates has passed, a friend and gift to all of baseball. From all of us here at Mitchell & Ness, rest in peace Johnny Pesky.

 

 

August 14, 2012 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Today In History - Yaz's 8 is Retired

Today at Mitchell & Ness we pay tribute to Carl Yastrzemski, whose number eight was retired by the Boston Red Sox thirteen years ago today. "Yaz", as   Yastrzemski is more commonly known, had a 23-year career entirely in Boston, where he is revered as one of the greatest players in Red Sox history.

Yaz was born August 22, 1939 in Southampton, New York. A prep star in baseball and basketball at Bridgehampton High, Yaz earned a scholarship to play both sports at Notre Dame.  The Red Sox offered Yastrzemski a contract which he accepted after impressing in just a sole season with the Fighting Irish. Yastrzemski flew through the minors, making his major league debut in 1961.

A left fielder, Yaz was raised to replace the legendary Ted Williams, who had retired the year previous. Williams, now coaching, would act as a hitting mentor for the young outfielder. Yastrzemski began his Red Sox career in unspectactular offensive fashion, but won plaudits with his sterling defense. It would not be until 1963 that Yaz began to be renowned as a rising star, as he won the AL Batting title and earned his first All-Star appearance. That All-Star appearance would start off a chain of Yaz being chosen for 15 of the next 16 All-Star games.

Yaz's breakout season though came in 1967, a memorable year for all Red Sox fans. Yastrzemski took home the AL Triple Crown that year, with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew) and 121 RBIs, along with the AL MVP. Yaz is still the last batter to win the Triple Crown. Coinciding with Yaz's star season was a Red Sox renaissance, as Boston reached the World Series for the first time since 1946. Yastrzemski was phenomenal in that series, batting .400 with three home runs, but the Red Sox fell to the Cardinals in seven games.

Yastrzemski continued to lead the Red Sox into the seventies, playing increased first base as well for the team. However, the Orioles and Athletics dynasties of the era kept the Red Sox from returning to the World Series. But Yaz and his Red Sox would have one more chance in 1975.

After winning the AL East, the Sox were able to take out the three-consecutive World Series winning A's in a three game sweep. But the World Series would prove fruitless again, as the Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds won in seven games. Yaz, despite slowing down at this point in his career, came up big again in the postseason for the Red Sox, hitting .350 in that postseason. It would be his last trip to the Fall Classic.

Yastrzemski kept trucking for the Red Sox, playing until he was 43 after the 1983 season. His retirement was felt across baseball, but what he had accomplished throughout his career was staggering. No player has had a longer career with only one team, 23 seasons, a record which he shares with Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles. His finished his career with 3,308 games played (second all-time and most with only one team).

Wearer of number eight for his entire career, Yaz's iconic number was retired by the Red Sox in 1989. A first ballot Hall of Fame induction came the same year. Known as one of the greatest all-around players of his era, Yaz stands as one of the most durable and likable players of his era.

Mitchell & Ness honors Yaz with three jerseys from throughout his legendary career, which you can check out here. Here's our jersey from Yaz's legendary 1967, where he won the Triple Crown:

 

August 6, 2012 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Happy Birthday Jim Rice

Happy 59th Birthday to Hall of Fame Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice. Born in Anderson, South Carolina on March 8th, 1953, Rice played all 15 seasons of his professional career with the Boston Red Sox. Rice’s first full season with the Red Sox was a big one. He was promoted full time from AAA Pawtucket in 1975 with fellow Red Sox legend Fred Lynn, where the two became cornerstones of the Red Sox outfield for six seasons. The two would earn the nickname the “Gold Dust Twins” for their Gold Glove caliber defense and unparalleled speed in the outfield. Rice would go on to finish 2nd in the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year voting (Rice would win both despite missing the playoffs with a broken wrist).

 

Rice led the Red Sox to a World Series appearance in 1975, while hitting .309, knocking in 102 runs and scoring 92 more runs. While being recognized as a terrific finesse defender in the outfield, Rice also hit for power at the plate and would lead the ’75 Red Sox with 22 home runs. Over the course of his career, Rice would lead the league in home runs three times (’77, ’78 & ’83), winning a Silver Slugger award twice (’83 & ’84) and win the American League MVP in 1978. Rice was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26th, 2009, and his number # 14 jersey was retired by the Red Sox two days later. Happy Birthday Jim.

 

 

 

 

March 8, 2012 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Welcome Back

Welcome back Bobby!  Red Sox fans, your thoughts?

November 30, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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