A historic baseball is auctioned off, Pedro Martinez wins yet another award, and Jim Rice's career comes to an end
Events of Note: Babe Ruth was known for his homers before he ever played for the Yankees, thanks to his display of power as a pitcher with the Red Sox. It's fitting, then, that the first home run ever hit at Yankee Stadium -- by Babe Ruth -- came against his former club. Boston hurler Howard Ehmke gave up the historic homer back in 1923, and on this date in 1998, the ball is sold at auction for $126,500.
It had been discovered in a New Jersey attic two years prior, and the winner of the auction remained anonymous. It was the highest-selling ball ever at that point for an auction, beating out another Red Sox and New York-related ball: the one that went between Bill Buckner's legs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series.
Two years later on November 13, Pedro Martinez wins his second-straight Cy Young award, that also happens to be his second consecutive unanimous Cy Young. Martinez once again led the AL in ERA at 1.74, would have struck out 300 batters again if not for a handful of missed starts, and somehow put up an even better ERA+ than he had in 1999. Not only that, but his 291 ERA+ from 2000 ranks as the best-ever in the modern era, beating out Dutch Leonard's previous mark of 279, and topping Pedro's own 1999 by nearly 50 points of ERA+.
All told in those two Cy Young seasons, Pedro posted a 1.90 ERA and 265 ERA+ while striking out 597 batters in 430 innings. He struck out nine times as many batters as he walked, allowed just six hits per nine innings, and did so during the greatest explosion of offense in the history of baseball. He was pretty good, you guys.
Transactions: The Red Sox release Jim Rice on this date in 1989. Rice was coming off of his age-36 season, in which he hit just .234/.236/.344. The end of his career was rough as a whole, not just in this season. After finishing third in the 1986 MVP race, his career nosedived, with Rice posting a 96 OPS+ over the last three seasons, while hitting into a double play every nine plate appearances.
Rice finished his career with 382 homers and a .298/.352/.502 line despite the crash, good for a 128 OPS+. He's third all-time in homers for Boston, fourth in games, seventh in doubles, sixth in triples, third in runs batted in, ninth in walks, and eighth in slugging, minimum 2,000 plate appearances. Rice also is second in strikeouts and only seven back of first in double plays, that despite nearly 4,000 fewer plate appearances than the leader, Carl Yastrzemski. Rice would make the Hall of Fame in 2009, 20 years after his retirement. It was a controversial induction for many, but even if you don't think Rice is Cooperstown-worthy, he still did have a very strong career.
Birthdays: Just two players in Sox history who spent more than a season with Boston have a birthday on November 13. John Kroner, who played for the Red Sox in 1935 and 1936, was born on this day in 1908. The infielder hit .291/.350/.440 for Boston, which sounds impressive, but was amazingly below-average at the time. Think of the middle of the century as a warm-up for the eventual offensive ridiculousness that would come by the end of it.
The other is Sy Rosenthal, who was born in 1903 in Boston. The only team he would play for in the majors was located there as well. The Red Sox employed Rosenthal in 1925 and 1926, where he hit a well below-average .266/.319/.375 bouncing between the corner outfield spots.