It's the birthday of one of these three gentlemen. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Games of Note: On August 4, 1945, the Red Sox played a game against the Senators that featured two historic major-league debuts. Not in the sense that two rookies whose names would ring throughout the halls of history first played this day, but historic nonetheless. Neither player was on the Boston side of things, as both were pitchers for the Senators who got a chance to pitch in a game where the Red Sox were blowing out Washington.
Joe Cleary came into the game in relief of pitcher Sandy Ullrich, who had allowed seven runs on four hits and seven walks in his 3-1/3 frames. Cleary is notable for two different reasons: one, he's currently the last major-league player to be born in Ireland, and the first since Jimmy Archer exited the game following the 1918 season -- just 48 Ireland-born players have joined major-league baseball in the history of the league. Second, this would be Cleary's lone appearance in the majors. He allowed seven runs, five hits, three walks, and struck out just one to record the lone out of his big-league career.
The next hurler to enter the game was World War II veteran Bert Shepard. The 25-year-old left-hander had also been a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over Germany during his 34th mission. He would retire from the Air Force in April of 1945, and joined up with the Senators, coming back to the sport he had left for the war.
The thing about Shepard was that his leg had been amputated, yet he was still a professional baseball player. On a day in which no Senators' hurler could seem to record outs without giving up multiple runs in the process, Shepard quieted Boston's bats, giving up one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out two over 5-1/3 frames. Like Cleary, this would be Shepard's only major-league appearance, but it was a fine job of mop-up duty.
Shepard would go on to be a player/manager in the minors, playing on and off again through 1955, when he was 35 years old. Clearly would also return to the minors, and stuck around through 1950 before hanging it up at age 31.
How did all those Boston runs score, you ask? Tom McBride, a former war-time rookie himself, drove in a record-tying six runs thanks to a bases-loaded double and a triple in the same inning -- the fourth, in which both Ullrich and Cleary were knocked around for 12 runs. This would be McBride's lone above-average season, as he wasn't much help at the plate even during Boston's 1946 pennant run.
Transactions: Boston acquired Dave McCarty from the Athletics on this day in 2003. McCarty had been in the minors since 1991, when the 21-year-old was drafted out of Stanford by the Twins in the first round, third overall. McCarty would spend three years with the Red Sox, nearly all of it in the majors, hitting .286/.355/.440 for a 102 OPS+ in 203 plate appearances. McCarty also pitched in three games, recording a 2.45 ERA with four strikeouts against one walk in 3-2/3 innings. McCarty wasn't a former pitcher in the minors, either, as he logged even fewer frames despite all of his extra time there.
He wasn't on Boston's postseason roster in 2004, but he was a fun and useful part of the team for a few years during the early reign of Theo Epstein and the new ownership. It's likely you have a soft spot for McCarty, whether you remembered him actively or not.
Birthdays: August 4 is a very popular birthday for former Red Sox players. Paxton Crawford turns 35 today, 12 years after he last appeared with the Red Sox. For his career, he logged just 65 innings for the Sox, posting a 115 ERA+ but spending most of his time in the minors or injured despite this. It's a shame his shoulder helped derail his career, too, as he the ninth-round pick from 1995 had a great name for a pitcher. Really, what else are you going to do when your name is Paxton Crawford besides pitch?
It's also Troy O'Leary's birthday. O'Leary was selected off of waivers from the Brewers in April of 1995, and became a Red Sox mainstay until he left the organization following the 2001 season. O'Leary hit .276/.331/.459 over his seven seasons with the Red Sox, with the best of those coming in '95 and '99. The latter is easily his most famous campaign, as it's also the one where he drove in seven runs on two homers in the deciding game of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.
True story: I modeled my own stance, which I used through high school, after O'Leary's, as that step needed to bring your feet back in line together always subconsciously reminded me to step forward while keeping my weight back.
It's Roger Clemens' birthday, too. You might know him as one of Boston's greatest hurlers ever, or as a guy who won with the Yankees and started a season late with the Astros. It all depends on when you were born. Personally, I barely remember anything from Roger's Boston time, save his second of two 20-strikeout campaigns. That's not something you forget if it occurs during the years your memory actually functions.
It's also former pitching coach (and current Blue Jays manager) John Farrell's birthday. Farrell was with the Red Sox from 2006 through 2010 before moving on to Toronto. He was a pitcher in the majors from 1987 through 1996, although he took a few years off due to injury, but was a far more successful coach than hurler.