Games of Note: On August 24, 1940, the Red Sox are losing 11-1 to the Detroit Tigers after seven. Rather than use another pitcher on the mound for the final two frames, outfielder Ted Williams, then a 21-year-old hitting .342/.440/.604 in his second season in the majors, takes the mound to close things out. Williams gives up one run on three hits, striking out one while walking none in the lone pitching appearance of his 19-year career.
This strategy might have paid off later in the day, when the Sox and Tigers played the second of a doubleheader, as Boston edged Detroit 8-7, using just two pitchers after three plus Williams went in the first contest.
Jumping ahead to 1948, on another Ted Williams team, we get the Red Sox losing to the Cleveland Indians 8-6 at home. After throwing an inning and starting the ninth by allowing two baserunners, Indian hurler Ed Klieman is removed from the game in favor of Gene Bearden, who gets an out on a Ted Williams sac fly that scores Dom DiMaggio. Bearden is taken out after that single batter for Russ Christopher. Christopher faces one batter as well -- Vern Stephens -- but gives up a two-run homer to end the game.
It's Stephens' first season in Boston, and his 15th game-winning hit of the year. Stephens hits .269/.350/.471 for the season (good for a 113 OPS+), driving in 137 runs in the process. When you hit behind Ted Williams, there's going to be someone on base to drive in half of the time. Just in case you were wondering how Stephens, who was a very good, but not great hitter, averaged 147 RBI per year during his first three seasons with the Sox.
Transactions: More like "transaction", as Boston only has one on August 24. On this day in 1999, the Red Sox traded David Benham and Mike Matthews to the St. Louis Cardinals for Kent Mercker. He was 31 years old, and already had 10 years of mileage on his arm, but he was highly effective in five starts for the Sox down the stretch, posting a 145 ERA+ despite a 1.3 K/BB, helping Boston to a 4-1 record in those games.
Mercker would leave as a free agent, but sign again in the winter of 2001, only to be released before the regular season ever began.
Birthdays: Harry Hooper would be 125 years old today. Hooper signed with the Red Sox back in 1908, but didn't get his start until the next season. He would spend 12 of his 17 years with Boston, hitting .272/.362/.367 there, good for a 114 OPS+. The outfielder played in four World Series for Boston -- 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918 -- and hit exceptionally well in all but the last of those. All told, Hooper compiled a .293/.371/.435 line in 108 postseason plate appearances. The easy favorite of these is 1915, when Hooper went deep twice in the World Series after hitting just a pair of homers in the regular season. Over the course of his Boston career, Hooper averaged just two long balls a year -- it wasn't until the 1920s, when Hooper was with Chicago, that he started to go deep in the double-digits.