In honor of Presidents Day, I dug up all the Red Sox with Presidential names. It was something to do. There have been 44 different U.S. leaders — Donald Trump is “45th” because Grover Cleveland was elected twice, non-consecutively, and is thus listed twice -- and 43 Red Sox have borne the names of them. So close! But no time for chit-chat. This is a long list.
Our ‘presidents’ are listed below by the chronology of the actual chief executives, not their own playing time. The Red Sox have never had a player with the last name “Washington,” so we start with...
2. John Adams and 6. John Quincy Adams
Bob Adams, from Holyoke, pitched 5.2 innings for the Sox in 1925, finishing with a 7.94 ERA and one strikeout. This is the entirety of his MLB career. There will be no HBO miniseries about him.
Terry Adams has a World Series ring. Acquired from the Blue Jays in the middle of the 2004 season for third baseman Josh Hattig, Adams pitched 27 innings for the Sox, during which he got pounded for 6 homers and an even 6.00 ERA. He was included on the postseason roster but didn’t pitch in the playoffs.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Reggie Jefferson was damn good at baseball for someone who retired at age 30 with a career .300 batting average. Over five seasons for Boston from 1995, he hit .316/.363/.505, almost completely in line with his excellent career split against righties, but was hapless against lefties, hitting .219/.292/.298 in his career. He was left off the 1999 playoff roster and, unhappy about it, opted to retire.
7. Andrew Jackson
Conor Jackson played 12 games for the Red Sox during the final, miserable days of the 2011 season, helping them infamously choke away the division lead with a .158/.227/.316 line over 22 PA.
Ron Jackson played briefly for the Sox in 1960, his final one in the bigs, at age 26, and while his name has basically been lost to history, his Baseball-Reference page has a legitimately sweet sponsored post.
8. Martin Van Buren
Jermaine Van Buren pitched in 10 games in relief for the Red Sox in 2006. He had a 11.17 ERA. That’s not good, but his name is, because it allows me to post this:
12. Zachary Taylor
Harry Taylor is best known for starting a 1947 World Series game for the Brooklyn Dodgers and failing to record an out; the Dodgers would win the game anyway. He pitched for the Red Sox from 1950 to 1952, compiling a 4.65 ERA over 110.1 IP.
Scott Taylor -- from the wonderfully named Defiance, Ohio -- pitched 25.2 innings of relief over the 1992 and 1993 seasons for the Sox, putting up a 6.31 ERA in his only MLB experience.
14. Franklin Pierce
Think Scott Taylor’s career was brief? Jeff Pierce pitched 15 innings for the 1995 Red Sox with a 6.60 ERA. That’s all.
17. Andrew Johnson and 36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Bob Johnson is easily the best player on the list to this point. He didn’t make his MLB debut until 1933, at age 27, but managed to make 7 all-star teams before he was finished, including one with the Red Sox, with whom he finished his career. Over two seasons in Boston, from 1944 to 1445 and at ages 38 and 39, he hit .302/.395/476 over 1219 plate appearances, leading the AL in OBP in 1944 at .431.
Brian Johnson is our first active player and one for whom it’s easy to root -- read more about him, by me, here.
Deron Johnson finished a long fruitful career on the 1975 Red Sox after grabbing a handful of at-bats for Boston over the previous three seasons.
Hank Johnson pitched for the Sox between 1933 and 1935, compiling a 14-14 record with a 4.63 ERA over 279.2 IP.
Jason Johnson started six games for the Sox in 2008, going 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA.
John Henry Johnson pitched 117 innings for Boston between 1982 and 1983, with a 3.62 ERA and 108 strikeouts. He wasn’t bad!
Kelly Johnson, our second active player, had 25 at-bats for the Sox in 2014. He hit .160/.160/.200.
Rankin Johnson Sr., aka “Tex,” started 13 games for Boston in 1914, going 3-9 with a 3.08 ERA. His son, also named Rankin Johnson, would pitch 10 innings for the Phillies in 1941.
Roy Johnson had a nice major league career, the best year of which were spent with the Red Sox from 1932 to 1935, over which he hit .313/.386/.458. He would return to the Hub in 1937 to finish his career with the Boston Bees aka Braves, hitting .266/.354/.346.
Vic Johnson pitched 112.2 innings for the Sox between 1944 and 1945 with a 6-7 record and 4.55 ERA. He was born and died in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
One of two first-namers on the list, Grant Gillis was a quarterback at Alabama before he turned to baseball, where he last three seasons, the final of which was for the Sox in 1929 after he was one of five players traded from Washington to Boston for Buddy Myer. He went .204/.304/.301 over 82 PA before the crimson tide of mediocrity claimed him for good.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Frankie Hayes, like so many on this list, played for the Red Sox only as a sad, short final act. Unlike the rest of them, he was a catcher nicknamed “Blimp.” He had 13 PAs for Boston as a 32-year-old in 1947 before handing them up, and it’s not a surprise he was broken down: he still holds the record for most consecutive games started by a catcher, with 312, if this is to be believed.
22 and 24. Grover Cleveland
Reggie Cleveland is probably best currently known as a Bill Simmons Universe Reference Point than he is in reference to his actual career, but he was a solid enough major leaguer to pitch for a dozen years. Over four full years on the Sox, right in the middle, he went 46-41 with a 4.04 ERA.
28. Woodrow Wilson
Alex Wilson is currently entering his third year on the Detroit Tigers, who got him in the Yoenis Cespedes-Rick Porcello trade. A career 2.80 ERA pitcher, he’s a nice bullpen piece.
Archie Wilson did the die-in-Boston thing, going .263/.300/.342 as an outfielder over 41 PA in 1952 to end his short career.
Duane Wilson, meanwhile, pitched two games for the Red Sox in 1952 and got roughed up in both. That was the entire of his short career.
Earl Wilson was Boston’s first black pitcher. He debuted in 1959, and over seven years with the Red Sox he went 56-58 with a 4.10 ERA. He was traded to the Tigers after revealing, to the press, an incident of racial abuse he had suffered — against the wishes of team management. The incident is covered in Howard Bryant’s book “Shut Out,” and you can read more about the Red Sox’ racial history here.
There have been 3 Gary Wilsons in MLB history ,and none of them has played more than 10 games. Boston’s Gary Wilson was the first and the worst, going 2-12 in three games for the 1902 Red Sox.
Jack Wilson was a replacement-level starter for the Sox between 1935 and 1941, going a nicely symmetrical 67-67 with a 4.44 ERA.
Jim Wilson kicked off a 13-year career with 2 seasons on the Sox, going 6-8 with a 3.41 ERA over 145 innings.
John Wilson kicked off and capped a 2-year career with 2 seasons on the Sox, going 0-2 with a 4.45 ERA over 30.1 innings.
Les Wilson played less than that, going 0-10 for the Sox in 1911.
George Francis “Squanto” Wilson played one game for the Red Sox in 1914 after playing five for the Tigers in 1911. He did not bat.
That is a sad, sad group of Wilsons.
35. John F. Kennedy
A World War II veteran, Bill Kennedy almost did the peter-out-in-Boston thing, throwing 24.1 innings in 1953 after a five years and sitting out the following two seasons, though he would pitch a toddler’s handful of innings for the Reds in 1956 and 1957.
John Kennedy shared city, a name and a birthday (May 29th) with the sitting president when he debuted in Washington in 1962, where he hit a home run in his first major league-at bat. The infielder would play for 12 years, the final 5 of them with the Red Sox, where he’d go .245/.295/.363 over 861 PA.
37. Richard Nixon
If your list doesn’t have Otis Nixon, your list needs fixin’. Nixon played only 1 strike-shortened 1994 for the Red Sox, but it felt like 10; he stole 42 bases, but it felt like 420. That number is not a coincidence. Nixon played and lived hard, and is a nice match for his presidential namesake on sheer chutzpah.
Russ Nixon played seven seasons as a catcher for the Red Sox, six from 1960-1965 and one in 1968 for the infamous Boston career-ending 13-85 stretch. He caught the hell out of the ball for 12 years, though, and holds the major league record for most games played (906) without stealing a base. He is probably best known for his lengthy minor-league and assistant managerial career, though he did have a short stint in Atlanta in 1989 and 1990.
Trot Nixon. Sometimes you don’t need words. Sometimes you just need to feel that fire:
Willard Nixon pitched for the Red Sox, and only the Red Sox, over his nine-year career. He went a nice 69-72 over an arguably nicer 1234.0 career innings. Most importantly, he beat the Yankees five times in a row from 1954-1955. Good man.
38. Gerald Ford
Ford Garrison was a career minor leaguer who made it to the bigs largely because of World War II. Over two years in Boston, he hit .270/.312/.343 as a reserve outfielder, with one home run.
39. Jimmy Carter
Neither the X-Files creator nor the Yankees slugger nor anyone else of note, Chris Carter had 26 PA as a left-handed outfielder in 2008 in 2009.
41. George H.W. Bush and 43. George W. Bush
Leslie Ambrose “Bullet Joe” Bush pitched for 17 seasons in the majors from 1912 and 1929 and is credited with inventing the forkball. Born in Brainerd, Minnesota of “Fargo” fame, Bush was the Sox’ No. 2 starter in the 1918 World Series behind Babe Ruth. Over 4 seasons with the Sox, he went 46-39 with a 3.25 ERA and, of course, a World Series title.
42. Bill Clinton
Lou Clinton hit .252/.307/.440 as a right fielder for Boston between 1960 and 1964. He’d spend the bulk of the rest his career on the coasts, in California and New York, with precious little time at midwest stops, notably in Cleveland.