Saturday, September 14, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 36: Pokey Reese

You have to love a player nicknamed "Pokey".  There are just not that many great nicknames in the Major Leagues anymore, but Pokey was one of the good ones.  It is particularly interesting because Pokey Reese had great speed.  Calvin was his real name but most cards of him after he made the Majors refer to him as Pokey.
Reese was actually acquired by the Red Sox twice.  In winter of 2001 he was traded from the Cincinnati Reds, where he spent his entire career to that point and was notably refused to be moved to Seattle in the Ken Griffey, Jr. trade, to the Colorado Rockies.  He never played a game for the Rockies and was traded to the Red Sox for Scott Hatteberg.  Both Reese and Hatteberg were non-tendered and both became free agents.  Reese eventually signed with Pittsburgh while Hatteberg went to the A's.  So he never played a game for the Red Sox in 2002.  After spending two years in Pittsburgh, Reese signed as a free agent with Boston for the 2004 season.
Reese was expected to be a backup to second-baseman Mark Bellhorn and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, but due to injuries, found himself the starting shortstop on Opening Day.  Reese actually played more games at shortstop than anyone else on the team in 2004.  He played in 96 games but did not contribute much with the bat.  He hit just .221/.271/.303 with three home runs, including an inside-the-parker, and 29 RBIs with six stolen bases.
Reese was not much at the plate but he was a very gifted defensive player, and that was where most of his value came from.  Reese committed just seven errors all season and displayed exceptional range and a strong arm.  Even after Orlando Cabrera solidified the position, Reese was still brought in to play second or short late in games as a defensive replacement.
My enduring image of Reese was him making the final play in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.  Ruben Sierra hit a groundball off of Alan Embree that was scooped up by Reese, who threw him out at first.  And the Red Sox celebrated.

No comments:

Post a Comment