A Boston legend wins an MVP, and two others leave town on this date in Red Sox history
Events of Note: Jimmie Foxx takes home Most Valuable Player award number three in 1938. The Red Sox first baseman hit .349/.462/.704 with 50 home runs and 175 runs batted in, eye-popping numbers even for the offense-heavy time. He led the league in each of the slash stat categories, as well as RBI, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and walks. Those 50 homers didn't lead the league, though, but the 41 other extra-base hits allowed him to lead in slugging and total bases anyway.
This was Foxx's first -- and only -- MVP while with the Red Sox. However, he received MVP votes in four of the seven seasons he was in town, so this wasn't his lone productive season. He hit .320/.429/.605 in his nearly 4,000 plate appearances and 887 games in Boston.
Transactions: On this date, 26 years apart, the Red Sox granted free agency to two of the better pitchers in their history. First, in 1978, Luis Tiant took the first step towards leaving Boston. Tiant pitched with the Sox for eight years, compiling a 118 ERA+ in that stretch, while throwing nearly 1,800 innings. In a single playoffs -- 1975 -- Tiant threw 34 innings, including 25 alone in the World Series, posting a 2.64 ERA and 3-0 record in those four starts. Tiant would leave Boston for New York, but his best years were behind him at this point, and his career ended four seasons and three teams later.
Fast-forwarding to 2004, Pedro Martinez is granted his free agency. Pedro is arguably the greatest pitcher Boston ever had. What he lacks in length to his career -- something Roger Clemens has on him -- he makes up for in quality. Martinez posted a 190 ERA+ thanks to a 2.52 ERA during the highest offense era in the history of the game. He struck out 1,683 batters in 1,383 innings, just a hair under 11 per nine over a seven-year stretch. It's hard to find a single pitcher in the majors right now who can do that for more than a year at a time, and Pedro made hitters look like it was the first time they had picked up a bat. He led the AL in strikeouts three times, topping out at 313 in 1999, and led the AL in ERA in four of the five seasons in which he qualified. In the one season he did not qualify, he posted a 2.39 ERA that would have led the league, had he thrown more than 116 frames.
Birthdays: Orlando Cabrera turns 38 years old today. Cabrera was Boston's shortstop on the 2004, World Series-winning team. Acquired mid-season from the Expos in the deal that sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs, Cabrera's acquisition was controversial, but worked out perfectly in the end. He was better than average offensively at short during his time with the Sox, and his defense at the position was excellent. He also had an impressive series against the Yankees in the ALCS, batting .379/.424/.448 in 33 plate appearances.
One-time Red Sox and former MVP winner Willie McGee turns 54 today. McGee played for the 1995, division-winning Red Sox, and hit .285/.311/.400 during his 67 games there. His best years were well behind him at this point, but back in the day, Willie could play. In 1985, McGee hit .353/.384/.503, with 56 steals, a league-leading 18 triples, and 216 hits. The batting title and MVP were his, as was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award. That's easily the best season he ever had, but there were some other high-quality ones as well.
Death Days: Fred Parent passed away on this date in 1972. Parent was the last surviving participant in the 1903 World Series -- the first World Series. The Red Sox shortstop started with Boston in 1901, and played there through 1907. 1903 was his best campaign, with the 27-year-old hitting .304/.326/.441 for a career-high 124 OPS+. He also hit well in the World Series, posting a line of .290/.324/.484 with three triples and four RBI.