The Red Sox and Dodgers are facing off in their second ever World Series. The first was an epic affair (and a Boston win). Here’s a little of what it looked like:
With LA’s victory on Saturday night we now know it’s the Dodgers that will face the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series, which starts Tuesday at Fenway Park.
No matter which team won the National League Championship Series, Boston hadn’t had much regular or postseason experience with either the Dodgers or the Brewers. And while Boston no doubt had plenty of confidence against either, there’s reason to believe Milwaukee might have proven the easier path to a ninth championship.
The Brew Crew
The Brewers of the American League started life as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 before moving the Milwaukee a year later. They switched to the National League in 1998. The Red Sox were 211-183 (.536) against the Brewers while they were in the AL, 8-7 against them in Interleague play since the club’s switch to the NL.
The Sox and the Brewers had never met in the postseason.
The Blue Crew
The Dodgers have always been a National League club with a history that dates back to 1884, when they were the Brooklyn Atlantics. The club went through five more names (the Grays, the Grooms, the Bridegrooms, the Robins and—oddest of all—the Superbas) before settling on “Dodgers” in 1911. They moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
Despite their long history, the Dodgers have matched up just fifteen times in the regular season with the Red Sox, most recently in a three-game set in 2016 in Los Angeles. LA won that series 2-games-to-1. The Sox won by the same margin when the teams met up the before that in 2013, also in California. In 2010 Boston swept a three-game set at Fenway. In all, the Red Sox at 8-7 in regular season match-ups.
Red Sox, Dodgers and the 1916 World Series
The Red Sox and the Robins met once in the postseason for the 1916 World Series. Naturally, it’s a good story and all the more so because it features The Babe.
21-year-old Babe Ruth, playing for Boston in just the third of what would be a 22-year career, was 0-for-5 at the plate in that Fall Classic but Ruth made his presence known, as he had all year, from the mound.
The Babe had already gone 23-12 in that regular season with baseball’s best ERA (1.75) in 44 games (40 starts). His 323.2 IP in 1916 are, to this day, the 10th-most innings worked in a single Sox season. When Ruth took the baseball for Game 2 of the World Series for that day game in Boston he couldn’t have known he would make history, as he would do again and again through the long career ahead of him.
For the Red sox, things didn’t get off to a great start. With two outs in the top of the first Ruth, with the help of some bobbling in the outfield, allowed an inside-the-park-home run by Robins center fielder Hi Myers. Despite that, Ruth settled in and even drove in the tying run in the bottom of the third with a one-out groundout that allowed Everett Scott to score after a leadoff triple.
From there, it was zeros for both teams. Ruth, toe-to-toe with Robins starter Sherry Smith, allowed no runs over 10 more innings.
Finally, in the bottom of the 14th, after a lead off walk to Dick Hoblitzell (who was then bunted over to second), Boston’s Del Gainer came through with a pinch-hit single that brought pinch-runner Mike McNally in to score the walk-off run.
Ruth worked all 14.0 inning of that game, a major league record for a starting pitcher in a postseason game to this day. He allowed six hits but just one run. He walked three and struck out four.
The 14-inning game remains the longest in World Series history, tied with 14-innings between the Royals and Mets in Game 1 in 2015 and also between the White Sox and Astros in Game 3 of the 2005 championship.
Quiet The Band
Between innings the Royal Rooters—not the Dropkick Murphys—serenaded the Sox so frequently with the original version of “Tessie” that Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson (shown here) complained to the home plate umpire about what the New York Times called “its monotonous chorus.” Umpire Bill Dineen called an end to the band’s performance, which was “followed with a chorus of hand clapping,” the Times reported.
As it was the year before, the 1916 World Series was played up the street from Fenway Park at Braves Field, which could accommodate the larger crowds. There’s no word on how many of the 47,373 spectators stayed for the whole game, but they may well have; the whole thing was over in just two hours and thirty-two minutes.
The Red Sox went on win the 1916 World Series 4-games-to-1.
Red Sox fans of all ages know the name and many of the feats of the great Hall of Fame player, Ted Williams. Today marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Theodore Samuel Williams was born in San Diego on August 30, 1918, was signed by the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1936, and made his major league debut in 1939, when he set a rookie season record for most RBI (145).
Williams would play all 19 seasons of his career with Boston, missing 1943-45 for Military Service. In all but two seasons of his career Williams was selected as an American League All-Star. He was the American League MVP in 1946 and again in 1949 and won the AL Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947.
In all, Williams led the league in batting six times, in home runs four times, in total bases five times, in walks eight times, and in slugging percentage nine times.
Over his long career Williams slashed .344/.482/.634, including a remarkable .406 AVG over 143 games in 1941. Williams is one of just four major league players ever to have stolen bases in 4 decades (also Tim Raines, Sr., Rickey Henderson, and Omar Vizquel).
Records Still Stand
Teddy Ballgame remains No. 1 in Red Sox history for home runs (521), walks (2,021), batting average (.344), on-base percentage (.482), and slugging (.634). His OPS, a measure of his ability to get on base and to hit for power, is an all-time club best of 1.116. In fact, among all players with 650+ career games, Williams’ career OPS is the second for all-time behind only Babe Ruth‘s 1.164 mark.
Williams had eight seasons with 30+ home runs and nine seasons with 100+ RBI. Only David Ortiz had more such seasons in Sox history (10 seasons for 30+ HR and 100+ RBI).
At home at Fenway, Williams is the still the all-time leader in home runs (248), walks (1,031), and on-base percentage (.496). Among players with at least 100 games at Fenway, Williams is tops for all-time in slugging percentage (.652).
In 1969 and again in 1982 the fans voted Ted Williams the Greatest Red Sox Player of all time.
Ted Williams played his last game September 28, 1960. He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, capturing 282 of 302 ballots. Ted’s No. 9 was formerly retired at Fenway Park on May 29, 1984. Williams died on July 5, 2002 in Inverness, Florida at age 83.
Set a reminder, because you won’t want to miss “Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,” set to air Monday at 9:00 ET on PBS. Included in the show is a first-ever peek at color footage of William’s very last at-bat. Naturally, it was a home run.
The career of Hall of Famer Williams, an 18-time American League All-Star, is almost impossible to describe and equally difficult to overstate. From 1939 to 160 (with three years off for military service).
Williams delivered remarkable feat after feat for the Boston Red Sox. Many of his club records stand to this day, such as the most RBI in a single month (41 in May 1942) and the most consecutive games with an RBI (12 in 1942, also Joe Cronin in 1939).
“The Splendid Splinter” is still the Sox all-time single-season leader for runs scored (131), extra-base hits (86), RBI (145), most RBI in consecutive games (18 over 12 games), and the highest slugging percentage (.609), with all such marks achieved in 1939.
Williams, who died in 2002, still owns myriad major league records, too, including a .482 career on-base percentage, the most successive times reaching base safely (16), the most consecutive years leading in walks (6), and the rookie record for most RBI with 145. Williams was the last major leaguer ever to hit .400 in a season with a .406 AVG in 1941 and he was the oldest player to win batting title with .388 AVG in 1957 at age 39.
No doubt, the PBS show, part of its American Masters series, will be a delight to watch. You won’t want to miss it, but if you do the film will be available on DVD and Digital Download July 24 from PBS Distribution.
With his third grand slam of the season on Saturday, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has catapulted himself into some elite company. At the unofficial halfway mark, Bogaerts is now one away from the club’s all-time single season record set by none other than Babe Ruth in 1919.
Bogaerts is the 10th Red Sox slugger ever with three slams in one season:
Of these, only the Babe, Ramírez, Stuart, and now Bogaerts have managed all three slams before the end of July.
Bogaert’s grand slam walked-off the Red Sox for an exciting win over the Blue Jays in the 10th inning. It was the young shortstop’s fifth career walk-off hit, but his first with a home run.
Bogaerts is the first since Rico Brogna connected for a walk-off grand slam on August 14, 2000 against the Rays. The last Sox slam to walk off in extra innings was by Jim Rice on the Fourth of July 1984.
Ten times in club history the Red Sox have managed two grand slams in a game, most than any other team in major league history. The most recent of those games was May 22, 2008 with Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew connected for one apiece at Fenway against the Royals.
This year’s Red Sox club now has nine grand slams, tied with Cincinnati for the most in baseball so far in 2018. It’s the sixth time in club history that Boston has managed nine slams in a season (also 2013, 2001, 1987, 1950 and 1941).
Club Record In Sight
The 2018 crew is now two slams from the club record for the most in a single season. It was 2005 when the Red Sox connected for 11 grand slams, with three by Ramírez, two by David Ortiz, and one each from Edgar Renteria, Jay Payton, Doug Mirabelli, Trot Nixon, John Olerud, and Jason Varitek.
Is a club new record in sight this season? It certainly seems plausible.
The prerequisite for a slam, of course, is a bases loaded situation and in that, the Sox are among the major league leaders this season. Boston has loaded the bases 103 times over 98 games. The Sox are one of five MLB teams that have managed to load the bases 100 or more times in 2018 (also the Reds, 146; Cubs, 120; Yankees, 106; and Nationals, 106).
Then there’s the matter of converting from the bases loaded to four quick runs. Here again, the Red Sox have been highly successful, turning the trick nine times for an 8.7% conversion rate. Of all 30 major league teams this season, only the Indians have a better such rate, converting eight times on 86 total opportunities (9.3%).
Past history never guarantees future performance. Still, it’s fun to speculate.
Assuming the Red Sox continue to play as they have, fans can expect more than 60 bases loaded situations over the remaining 64 games of the regular season. Their current 8.7% conversion rate would yield something like 5½ more grand slams. Half the conversion rate (or half the number of opportunities) would likely still be enough to tie the franchise mark. Halving both rates, of course, would not.
No matter what, as long as the prodigious Red Sox offense remains in high gear, Boston fans are poised to enjoy the fireworks well into October.