Recently I decided to buy up a bunch of Conlon cards from my wantlist, which led me to a bunch of other cards that I also wanted. Almost all of these cards have one thing in common: none of the players pictured (with one obvious exception) have played for the Red Sox since 1970. But the cards are recently made or reprinted. Now one of my biggest obsessions recently is examining the lesser-known periods in Red Sox history. I am talking about the years from 1920-1933 (post-Babe Ruth and pre-Tom Yawkey) and 1951-1966 (when the team was mostly mediocre). As a result I have been very interested in picking up cards of players from these time periods. And a large majority of the players in this post fit that mold.
2. Joe Foy. Foy was the third-baseman on the Impossible Dream team who had some power in his bat. He hit 15 and 16 home runs in his first two seasons. He was later left unprotected in the expansion draft and was selected by the Royals. After a season in Kansas City he was traded to the Mets for Amos Otis, which worked out badly for the Mets.
3. Smead Jolley. He pretty much sums up the Red Sox hitters in the years between Babe Ruth and Tom Yawkey. A very good hitter, but a horrendous fielder. Most Red Sox players only had one tool in those days. Jolley hit 18 home runs for the 1932 Red Sox, the most on the team.
4. Christian Vazquez. This is the only recent player in this package. Vazquez is a great defensive catcher who needs to work on his hitting.
5. Eddie Lake. Another WWII standout, Lake was the starting shortstop in 1945 and hit .279 with a league-leading .412 on-base percentage. Much of the reason for that was his incredible 106 walks. He also hit 11 home runs and 27 doubles. He had a very good year, but Johnny Pesky came back the next season and Lake was expendable. He was traded to Detroit for Rudy York.
6. Mike Andrews. Andrews was the second-baseman on the Impossible Dream team. He had his best season in 1969 when he was an All Star and hit .293 with 15 home runs.
7. Dennis Bennett. Bennett was acquired in a trade with the Phillies for Dick Stuart. This was a poor trade for Boston as Bennett was hurt and his numbers declined dramatically upon arriving in Boston.
8. Eddie Bressoud. Bressoud benefited greatly from being traded to the Red Sox. He suddenly hit for a lot more power (he had never hit more than nine home runs until coming to the Red Sox and hitting 20 in his second season there) and he was named to his only All Star team.
9. Ike Boone. Like Jolley, Ike could hit but could not field his position, which cost him a long career in the Majors. He hit .332 over two-plus seasons in Boston but he never played regularly again,
11. Elliott Bigelow. He played in 100 games and hit .284 in his only season in the big leagues, but Bigelow was another poor fielder. He died suddenly in 1933.
12. Emerson Dickman. Dickman was a reliever for the Red Sox in the late 30's/early 40's. He had his best season in 1939 when he was 8-3 with a 4.43 ERA.
13. Harry Hooper. Hooper was likely one of the greatest defensive right fielders of all time, unfortunately there is not much video evidence of his greatness. He made a terrific catch in the World Series. Hooper was primarily known for his defense but he was a decent hitter as well.
14. Hal Wiltse. Wiltse was not as bad as his 18-35 record with the Red Sox would seem to show. He just had the bad luck to pitch for terrible teams. His ERA was a little below average, but not to the degree that his record would seem to indicate.
15. Rick Ferrell. Ferrell was a terrific contact hitter for a catcher. For his time in Boston, he hit .302/.394/.410. He is in the Hall of Fame primarily for his defense, but he was a pretty good hitter for a catcher if somewhat bereft of power.
16. Joe Cronin. Cronin was probably a better player than a manager. He is in the Hall as a terrific hitting shortstop. He did however lead his teams to two pennants, though did not win a World Series. Cronin was later a general manager and then American League president.
17. Fred Haney. Haney was the anti-Ike Boone. A terrific fielder, but could not hit at all and had next to no power.
18. Bob Tillman. Tillman had some power. He hit 14 home runs as a catcher in his rookie season and had 17 in 1964. He slumped after that and was eventually sold to the Yankees after Boston acquired Elston Howard from New York in a separate transaction.
20. Bill Monbouquette. "Monbo" was the ace of the staff in the early 1960's. He had a 20 win season, threw a no-hitter, and was a three-time All Star with the Red Sox.
21. Bill Spanswick. I'm not sure how Spanswick got a card in this set. He spent just one year in the Majors and was 2-3 with a 6.89 ERA in 29 games.
22. Duffy Lewis. Lewis played left field at the time Hooper and Speaker were in the outfield. Lewis had more power than the other two generally but is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. He was also terrific defensively.
23. Earl Webb. Webb STILL holds the record for doubles in a season (though he often cheated by not running out a hit that could have been a triple). He was, like Jolley and Boone, a poor defensive outfielder.
24. Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was a pretty good pitcher that was cursed by pitching for the Red Sox when they were terrible. In 1924 he won 14 games and had a 3.79 ERA but he led the league in losses with 17.
25. Joe Vosmik. Vosmik led the league in hits with 201 in 1938. He was the left fielder the first season Ted Williams played for the Red Sox. When he was sold to the Dodgers, Williams moved to left.
26. Bill Carrigan. Carrigan was a decent catcher and was player-manager for the 1915-1916 Red Sox. He is the only manager to lead the Red Sox to consecutive World Series Championships.
27. Roy Johnson. Roy and his brother Bob played for the Red Sox about a decade apart. Roy was a very good hitter who hit .313 in his four years with Boston.
29. Bill Regan. Regan was a decent defensive second-baseman who hit enough to justify keeping him in the lineup. He was a mainstay of the team during the late 1920's at a time when few players stuck around for very long.
30. Archie McKain. Primarily a relief pitcher, McKain was 13-12 with a 4.60 ERA in 73 games over two seasons with the Red Sox.
31. Lefty Grove/Nolan Ryan. Grove must have been quite a pitcher in his time. Not too many pitchers were racking up the strikeouts like he was. By the time he came to Boston, his fastball was not as fast, but he learned how to really pitch. It helped him win four more ERA titles in his time with the Red Sox and he eventually won his 300th game with them.
32. Tom Carey. Carey was a utility infielder with the Red Sox, but he did hit .323 in 1940, albeit in just 43 games.
33. Bobby Doerr. Our sixth and final Hall of Famer in the package. Doerr was a terrific defensive second baseman and was a great hitter too. He spent his entire career in Boston and had six seasons of more than 100 RBIs. If he hadn't been forced to retire due to back injuries, he would have been named to the Hall of Fame a lot sooner.
And one more note:
I bought a card from the TCMA 60's Set that made me mad when I looked at it. It was Chuck Stobbs and the picture shown of him was with the Red Sox. Unfortunately, the back lists him as a Washington Senator. Now in my rules, that is a Senators card. Stobbs never had a card with the Red Sox, other than a few postcards issued by the team. I was annoyed when I saw that. He was a decent pitcher for a few years before being shipped to the Senators. I don't understand why the card listed him as a Senator but showed him in a Red Sox uniform and it bugs me. I can understand if a player changed teams recently, but this is a card from 1978 covering the 1950's. There is no reason to do that. Rant over.