Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 12: Joe Cronin

Years with Boston:  1935-1945 (.300/.394/.484, 119 home runs, 737 RBIs, 1,168 hits, 270 doubles)
Best Year in Boston:  1938 (.325/.428/.536, 17 home runs, 94 RBIs, 51 doubles, 91 walks)
Joe Cronin had quite an impressive career path.  Cronin started out as a ballplayer for the Pittsburgh Pirates before moving on to stardom with the Washington Senators.  He played extremely well for a couple of years in Washington, becoming one of the best overall players in the game.  In 1933, Cronin became the player-manager of the Senators at just 26.  The rest of his playing career, he continued as a player-manager.  He continued for a couple of seasons as a full-time manager before becoming the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox.  Later on, he became the President of the American League.

Cronin had been a star for the Senators for a few years, making the first two All Star teams in 1933 and 1934 and finishing in the Top 10 for the AL MVP in three seasons, including runner-up in 1933.  After Tom Yawkey took over as the Red Sox owner, he sought out the best players he could buy, and targeted Cronin.  Yawkey bought Cronin for $225,000.00 and shortstop Lyn Lary.  What was most unusual about this purchase was the Cronin had just recently married Washington owner Clark Griffith's daughter.

Cronin did not miss a beat in coming over to the Red Sox.  The shortstop/manager continued to bat around .300 every season in Boston and had some pop.  He played reasonably well defensively though his range declined.  Cronin had a very impressive five-year period from 1937 to 1941 in which he averaged 19 home runs and 103 RBIs with a line of .307/.404/.504.  After the 1941 season, Cronin focused much more on managing and did not play in the field nearly as often.

Cronin quit as a player after the 1945 season.  He lead Boston to its first pennant since 1918 in 1946 and the team stayed in contention for the 1947 season.  He then moved to the Red Sox front office from there and later became the American League President.  Cronin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956.  He wears a Red Sox cap on his Cooperstown plaque.

Cronin spent more than half of his career with the Red Sox and his numbers, including his non-counting stats, are all better with the Red Sox.  It is clear that the Red Sox are the team for which Cronin made his most indelible mark.

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