Gail Oskin - Getty Images
Ted Williams' performances necessitate a rule change, Pete Runnels vies for a batting title with the Splendid Splinter, and the '67 Red Sox fight for first.
Games of Note: It's the last day of the 1955 season, and Ted Williams goes 1 for 2. This puts his seasonal batting average at .356, which would lead the league, but he doesn't have enough at-bats to qualify. It's not because Williams didn't play in a lot of games -- he appeared in 98, and accrued 416 plate appearances -- but because the rules of the time dictated that you needed a particular number of at-bats in order to win the batting title. As Williams walked 91 times in 98 games, he absolutely did not reach this minimum at-bat threshold. It's the second year in a row this has happened to Williams, who had 526 plate appearances in 1954 but just 386 at-bats, and a rule change comes out of it, recognizing plate appearances as the marker for qualification for the batting title, rather than at-bats.
In 1958, with this whole situation figured out, Williams is once again vying for the batting title, this time against teammate Pete Runnels. Following September 26th's game, the two are tied, and not just to three digits: both Williams and Runnels are at .32258, thanks to Williams' going 2-for-3 in the first game of a doubleheader, and Runnels putting up a 2-for-9 effort that dropped him to this tie.
Skipping ahead nearly a decade, Williams is retired, but Carl Yastrzemski is around to pick up the slack. Not on this day, though, as even though Yaz goes deep against future Red Sox hurler Luis Tiant, Boston falls to Cleveland, 6-3, putting the Red Sox one game back of the first place Twins. The Tigers lose to the Yankees, though, leaving them one-and-a-half back in what has turned into an epic race to the finish line.
Over 30 years later, in 1998, Dennis Eckersley appears in a record-breaking contest, the 1,071st of his career. It snaps Hoyt Wilhelm's mark, set in 1972, and is also the final appearance of Eck's 24-year career, one he spent both starting and relieving. The Hall of Fame is in Eckersley's future, thanks to a career ERA+ of 111 as a starter over 12 seasons and nearly 2,500 innings, then something of a career renaissance as a closer, the kind of ninth inning one we think of today, where he was more dominant. Eck's ERA+ in relief was 136, with 387 saves nearly a strikeout per inning over the last 12 campaigns of his career.
Transactions: Boston has made a single move on September 26 -- not a real surprise, given how late in the season it generally is, for either adding or cutting. In 2001, the Red Sox released Carlos Castillo, who had appeared in all of two contests for Boston that year. Castillo didn't register a walk nor a strikeout, but gave up a homer in his three innings of work. The 26-year-old had spent the last two seasons in Boston's minor-league system, first in the GCL, then in Pawtucket, primarily as a starter.
While he would never play in the majors again, Castillo's career didn't end with his release. He went back to his original club, the White Sox, and spent the 2003 season there. When that didn't turn into anything, Castillo joined independent league ball, where he played in 2005, then again in 2007 through 2009, finishing up at the age of 34.
Birthdays: Former Red Sox backstop Rich Gedman, and father of Boston farmhand Matthew Gedman, turns 53 years old today. Gedman spent 11 of his 13 seasons with the Red Sox, the team that signed him as an amateur free agent back in 1977. Minimum 1,000 plate appearances, Gedman ranks third in homers among Red Sox catchers with 83, fourth in runs batted in, fourth in hits, fourth in plate appearances, fourth in games, and, minimum 1,000 plate appearances, fifth in OPS+.
For what it's worth, Victor Martinez should rank first, in a tie with Carlton Fisk, but he had just 775 plate appearances with the Red Sox over his partial two seasons. There's something to be said about the amount of time spent in town, of course.