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.
After making a run for the pennant in the previous year the outlook for the 1975 season would be filled with high hopes. After suffering a knee injury in June 1974 tearing several knee ligaments Carlton Fisk would return for a full season after being told that he would never play again. Two phenom, power hitting rookies would also be added to the '75 roster - Fred Lynn & Jim Rice. Although there was much reason to be hopeful for the coming season fans were still feeling the lingering devistation from the injury plauged and devastating slump that finished up the 1974 season leaving them in 3rd place.
As pre-season got under way news of the two rookie phenoms spread like wildfire with pictures and stories being delivered from Florida. This got Red Sox fans thinking. This optimism was short lived when Fisk was hit in the right arm and suffered a break. Rick Wise would also be returning from a injury suffered in '74 as well. He would help beef up the rotation which included Luis Tiant and Bill Lee. Also included in the line up would be Carl Yazstrzemski who would start at first base and Rico Petrocelli at third.
April brought the season opener with the Red Sox defeating the Miwaukee Brewers with Sox pitching ace Tiant on the mound. After the first week the Red Sox would tie for first place with Milwaukee. By the end of april the Sox would fall from first place and not regain their position until the end of May.
Listed below are the top fiveRed Sox Career Home Run Hitters
# 1 Ted Williams
# 2 Carl Yastrzemski
# 3 Jim Rice
# 4 Dwight Evans
# 5 Manny Ramirez