The first FanPost Friday has concluded, and I have to say, I’m happy with what we were able to accomplish as a group. We had three very different stories from three very different people, and all of these stories taught us something new.
I’m going to start the Monday Flyby by explaining the concept of this recap thread. I will be providing links to each FanPost made (for posterity), discussing a little snippet about them, along with maybe a personal thought about the story. Once I’ve gone through each story, I might spend some time addressing the prompt myself.
Our prompt this past weekend was:
Do you have any Spring Training anecdotes? If you do, explain. If you do not, rather, tell us about your general feelings regarding Spring Training.
Our respondents didn’t disappoint.
First, we’ll start with the first-ever response to a FanPost Friday on OTM, Bagwell on the Bosox, written by Scarecrow13.
This article does a good job capturing what I was hoping to see with FanPost Fridays, giving us an in-depth look at something that may have gone forgotten, or undiscussed, simply because it never was relevant to other discussions we were having on the board. With Jeff Bagwell getting into the Hall of Fame, it’s certainly a good time to talk about him.
Before Jeff Bagwell was the .297/.408/.540 hitting monster with a career 449 home runs, he was Jeff Bagwell: Somewhat well regarded Red Sox prospect, taken in the 4th round of the 1989 first-year player draft. Jeff Bagwell wasn’t the only Hall of Famer taken in this particular draft. Frank Thomas was a first rounder, and Trevor Hoffman may join both Bagwell and Thomas as soon as next year (Hoffman was taken in the 11th round, by the Reds).
Unfortunately, Bagwell was not long for our system. He played a glorious 205 games across two years, and in that second year was an absolute monster for the New Britain Red Sox (then our AA affiliate). Hitting .333/.422/.457 at AA as a 22 year old in his second season put him squarely on other team’s radars. The power had yet to come, but he had shown snippets of what he could do.
On August 30th, 1990, however, the dream was over. Bagwell was being traded to the Houston Astros. The return was Larry Andersen, who would throw 22 excellent innings with the Red Sox before departing for the San Diego Padres as a free agent.
Bagwell had arrived too late in the season to really get a chance to play for the Astros AA or AAA affiliate, but despite this, they would head into the 1991 season with Bagwell as their starting first baseman. In his first game, Opening Day 1991, he would go 0-3 with 1 walk on his ledger. He would become something of an ironman for the Astros, averaging 151 games played between 1991 and 2004 (2004 being his age 36 season). He would play one last year, in 2005. However, he would find his ability to stay on the field hampered by chronic arthritis, and was tabled for most of the year. He would return in time for the playoffs, and witness the Houston Astros in the World Series.
Bagwell represents one of the greater what-ifs in recent Red Sox history. Had he stuck around, and been what he would become in Houston, we’d have had our first baseman/DH type long before Papi had hit Boston in 2003. Had Bagwell stuck around, would Papi have found his way to Boston? Or would he have found another home? Coming off 2002, Bagwell was still a viable talent, coming off a very productive age 34 season.
Ultimately, it’s probably for the best that Bagwell was traded. While it hurts to lose out on a Hall of Famer, one who was so fun to watch as he, it would have hurt more to know we could have missed out on a man who meant more to the city of Boston than any other player in recent history.
Next, let’s turn to Two Lefties. Two Lefties, by Alfredoz, is a story about one youth’s first visit to Spring Training in 1986. Pitching that day was Bruce Hurst. And as the title implies, there’s a second lefty in this equation. That lefty would be Alfredoz himself.
His grandfather sent him in for autographs, a tradition that will never grow old, and while Alfredoz emerged without an autograph, he got to see the excellent facial hair of one Dwight Evans.
While Hurst would pitch two scoreless innings, he would depart, as Spring Training games go, and the game would go south. The player he disliked most, George Brett would launch a dinger straight out of the park, and as can be expected, this wasn’t the happiest of times.
Needing to use the bathroom, however, his fate would intertwine with that of the lefty who had pitched two scoreless innings for the Red Sox earlier in the day, one Bruce Hurst. Approaching the bathroom, Alfredoz bumps into said lefty. While not the ideal meeting place for this type of occasion, Alfredoz salvages the situation quite well, managing to get a bone-crushing handshake out of the ordeal, worth more than all the close-ups of Dwight Evans mustache and autographs in the world.
A little older, Alfredoz returns, and so does George Brett. And true to form, George Brett makes things happen.
We all have that player that drives us nuts, whether for rational reasons or irrational ones. For Alfredoz, he has a piece of memorabilia that Brett launched. Either that or he tossed the ball back. I’m a little curious as to where that ball is now. If Alfredoz is reading this, I hope he shares a picture of the ball, if he still has it.
Our final story this weekend was Spring Training in the Late 80’s: Birth of a Red Sox Fan, by BobZupcic. BZ has been a long-time member of this community, one whom I can’t imagine OTM being deprived of. He is one of the few active members here who has been here longer than I (there are others, but they have faded in terms of activity, or stepped down as blog managers).
BobZupcic’s story begins with him being a middle-schooler in Lakeland, Florida. Lakeland was the Spring Training home of the Tigers. And through some small miracle, BZ would end up a Red Sox fan, rather than a Tigers fan.
What event galvanized and brought him to our community? Why, it was a Jim Rice homerun! The PA Announcer would go wild, with the message, “Long Home-Run by Jim Rice!” BZ’s name in real life is strikingly close to Jim Rice, so he thought (he was 12 or 13) that the announcer said he hit a homerun. While BZ may not have hit a homerun that day, Jim Rice won us a good one.
There are some additional small blurbs definitely worth reading in the original FanPost. One that stuck out to me was how BobZupcic owns a baseball signed by Bob Zupcic (the player, not the poster).
And that brings an end to the Monday Flyby. Comments of all kinds are welcome, as I look for ways to improve this formula for future FanPost Fridays. Thank you to the three who submitted FanPosts, and thank you to anyone who took the time to read this recap.
See you all on Friday!