David Eckstein was really good at getting hit by pitches. This is one of the 143 beanings he sustained in his career. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Games of Note: It's 1940, and Jimmie Foxx is in his 16th season of a 20-year career. He goes deep twice against the Washington Senators, in a game Boston wins, and these homers push him ahead of Lou Gehrig on the all-time list. For the season, Foxx would end up with 36 long balls, the last year of a stretch that saw him go deep 484 times in 11 years.
Foxx would only spend one more full season with Boston before he was put on waivers in 1942, where the Cubs would select him. The 1941 campaign was solid -- .300/.412/.505 -- but it lacked the power he had displayed in other years, as he went deep just 19 times. From that point forward, over three seasons' time, Foxx would collect just 17 more homers, to give him a career total of 534.
Jumping ahead about 60 years brings us to August 16, 2001, on the day that manager Jimy Williams was fired. The Red Sox were 13 games over .500 at the time of the firing, but would finish at just 82-79 under interim manager (and former pitching coach) Joe Kerrigan, and it took five-straight wins to end the year to get to even that point. As Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo reminded viewers on the telecast yesterday, that was a split between manager and his charges.
Transactions: This isn't a move the Red Sox made, so much as one they let occur: second baseman David Eckstein was selected off of waivers by the Anaheim Angels on this day in 2000. Eckstein would make it to the majors one year later as a shortstop, and while he was never quite as good as the hype surrounding him, he made himself useful for a long period of time. A .280/.345/.355 career line is solid from a player who was a quality defender at short in his younger years, and a reliable second baseman in his later ones.
Because of how few prospects made it -- and stayed -- in the majors under Dan Duquette's watch, he gets flak for the Eckstein thing. To be fair to Duke, though, at the time of the waiver claim, Eckstein was a 25-year-old hitting .246/.364/.301 at Triple-A, and his prior successes had all come while he was old for the level. Even with that caveat, though, it still doesn't look great for their scouts or Duquette. Especially given that the Pawtucket roster was full of older players that the organization kept around as depth.
Don't click that link unless you're prepared for a Morgan Burkhart sighting.
Birthdays: Speaking of Duquette, it's Jin Ho Cho's 37th birthday. The South Korean right-hander was signed as an international free agent in 1998, and debuted in the majors that same year at age 22. He would throw 58 innings in the majors, compiling a 6.52 ERA in the process. You do have to remember, though, that a 6.52 ERA went a lot further back in 1998-1999 -- that was still an ERA+ of 76. Not good by any means, but hey, not quite as catastrophic as in today's game.
Jin Ho Cho stayed in Boston's system through 2002, but couldn't stay consistently good long enough to ever earn that return trip back to the majors. He would attempt a comeback of his career in 2009, in the Korean Baseball Organization, but the 33-year-old just didn't have it in his arm anymore, and he was done after all of 10 innings.
Death Days: He might not be remembered as a Red Sox first, but that's where he spent the first six years of his career. Babe Ruth died on this day in 1948, at the age of 53, due to cancer that he had been treating for two years.
Ruth hit .308/.413/.568 for the Red Sox over six seasons. That might look pretty good, and not exactly stunningly great, but, in his last year with Boston, the average slugging percentage was .359 in the American League. Ruth was a great power hitter at a time when great power hitters didn't exist. There's a reason he led the league in homers in his last two seasons in Boston, despite not playing a full slate of games in the field until his final year there.
Ruth also won 89 games with the Red Sox as a pitcher, and posted a 2.13 ERA in 1,190 innings. Among Red Sox pitchers with at least 1,000 innings in their Boston careers, that ranks fourth behind a couple of arms you might have heard of:
|1||Smoky Joe Wood||1.99||1416.0||1908||1915||157||412||986||150|
If you adjust for era -- notice most of those low ERAs are ancient history, except for one particular pitcher whose name shall be spoken in reverent tones only -- things change a bit...
|2||Smoky Joe Wood||150||1416.0||1908||1915||157||412||986||1.99|
...but Ruth still finishes as a top-10 starting pitcher for the Red Sox all-time, minimum 1,000 innings.