Theo Epstein's replacements are interviewed, Jim Rice is rewarded for his greatest season, and a Red Sox backup backstop is acquired
Events of Note: On this date in 1978, Red Sox slugger Jim Rice won his first (and only) Most Valuable Player award, defeating the Yankees' Ron Guidry. Rice led the American League in games (163), plate appearances (746), hits (213), triples (15), home runs (46), runs batted in (139), slugging percentage (.600), OPS (900), OPS+ (157), and total bases (406). Those 400-plus total bases were the first time since Joe DiMaggio's 1937 that a player had accumulated 400, and was the second of three-straight seasons in which Rice led the AL in that category.
The race for MVP was closer than all of those league-leading categories would have you believe, though, as Guidry won 25 games with a 1.74 ERA in 273 innings, for a Yankees' team that overtook the Red Sox in a one-game playoff. Rice received 20 first-place votes, and Guidry eight, but the final tally saw Rice receive 90 percent of the possible votes, while Guidry received 74 percent. Larry Hisle was the third of three players to receive over 200 points, thanks to his impressive season.
Had Twitter existed back in 1978, you can be assured that many would have screamed about the fact that Rice's wins above replacement were lower than Guidry's. But please, let's not get into a discussion about the accuracy of WAR models using 35-year-old defensive sources. We've barely got today figured out.
Jumping ahead to 2005, Theo Epstein had (temporarily) vacated his position as Red Sox general manager. Boston planned to interview new candidates, ones they would not hire. But today, two of those spoke to ownership about succeeding the GM who brought the first championship to Boston in 86 years. Jim Bowden, who was general manager of the Washington Nationals at the time, and former Baltimore Orioles executive Jim Beattie, were those two candidates.
Bowden, a Boston native, took over the Montreal Expos shortly before their move to Washington. Beattie was a former pitcher who also worked as Montreal's general manager from 1995 through 2001, and co-GM of the Orioles with Mike Flanagan from 2003 through 2005.
Obviously, neither got the gig, as Boston named current GM Ben Cherington as co-GM along with Jed Hoyer before Epstein returned to his job.
Transactions: The Red Sox signed catcher Bill Haselman as a free agent on November 7, 1994. Haselman was heading into his age-29 season, and had played for the Rangers and the Mariners. Haselman would play three years with Boston, then another in the last year of his career in 2003, amassing a line of .252/.313/.409, for an OPS+ of 83. Haselman wasn't there for his hitting, though: he was considered a positive contributor with the glove.
After his career ended, Haselman coached the Red Sox for three years, and in 2010 and 2012, managed in the minor leagues for the Rangers and Angels, respectively.
Birthdays: Don Newhauser turns 65 years old today. The pitcher took the mound for the Red Sox from 1972 through 1974, and even though he was excellent in a short time frame in that first season, the right-hander spent most of his pro career in the minors. Newhauser spent 10 years in the minors, amassing 626 innings and a 2.70 ERA. In his three years in the majors, he threw just 52 innings, though, despite a 134 ERA+ in 1972. Of course, there's more to it than just his ERA in a short-season sample: Newhauser posted a 1.1 K/BB that season, making that ERA something of a miracle. One the Red Sox didn't bother to see could be replicated. Good thing, too, considering his career K/BB in the minors was all of 1.2.