Rich Gedman was officially a rookie in 1981. He played just nine games in 1980 and had a .208/.208/.208 line in 24 at-bats toward the end of the season. After Boston foolishly, and possibly unintentionally, allowed All Star catcher Carlton Fisk to walk as a free agent after the season, the team needed a new catcher. Gedman, who was an undrafted free agent in 1977, would eventually become an All Star himself.
The Red Sox started the 1981 season with Gary Allenson as the primary catcher and rookie Dave Schmidt as the primary backup catcher. Allenson himself was in just his third season. Gedman started the season in Pawtucket, but he had a hot start to the season and was called up in mid-May. He would eventually become the primary catcher, other than an injury in June.
Gedman finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year vote in 1981. The winner was Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti who was 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA. Gedman hit .288/.317/.434 with five home runs, 15 doubles, and 26 RBIs. The voting was not particularly close. Righetti received 127 votes to Gedman's 64. The vote might have been a little closer if Gedman had not missed a month and a half due to his injury.
Injuries would be a frequent issue with Gedman in the coming years. It would be a couple years until Gedman would become the primary catcher for the team. In 1984, Gedman emerged as a star for a few years. He was an All Star in 1985 and 1986. Unfortunately, injuries and ineffectiveness took their toll in the next few seasons. He stayed with Boston into the 1990 season then played for Houston and St. Louis before calling it a career.