Thursday, September 8, 2016

Red Sox From Nebraska

Nebraska is not really a hot-bed for Major League talent.  There have only been 113 players in Major League history that were born in the State of Nebraska.  Hall of Famers from Nebraska include Grover Cleveland Alexander, Bob Gibson, Richie Ashburn, and a few others.

I spent some time working at the Nebraska Major League Baseball Hall of Fame located in St. Paul, Nebraska when I was a lawyer in that town.  I was actually the Chairman of the Board for a year there.  It was one of the most rewarding, interesting things that I have ever done, and is one of the reasons that I regret leaving St. Paul.  I helped procure items for the museum, including a bobblehead figure of Alex Gordon in his Lincoln Southeast high school uniform that was a stadium giveaway at Rosenblatt Stadium, then the home of the Omaha Royals.  I also met former Major League stars such as Bob Cerv and Russ Snyder, both of whom played in the 1950's, when we brought them to town as honored guests for the town's weekend festival, called the Grover Cleveland Alexander Days (Alexander was from the nearby town of Elba, Nebraska).

There have been only five native Nebraskan Major League players and one manager to appear for the Red Sox.  Below will be a very quick profile of each player:

I unfortunately do not have this card.  Nunamaker was a native of Malcolm, Nebraska, a town near the capital of Lincoln.  He was a backup catcher for the Red Sox from 1911 into the 1914 season.  He did not have much power in that time, never hitting a home run, and hitting no more than five doubles in any of those seasons.  He was a decent defensive catcher but he was never really given a chance in Boston.  The Red Sox sold him to the Yankees in 1914 where he blossomed.

Red Sox stats: .247/.307/.326, 34 RBIs, 14 doubles.

The manager of the pennant-winning 1975 Red Sox team was born in Horace, Nebraska, a tiny, unincorporated community in central Nebraska.  Johnson had been a catcher in the Major Leagues with the Browns, White Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, and Orioles, never really playing much in any year.  He had been the Red Sox Triple A minor league manager before being promoted in 1974.  He had a decent year in 1974, but then Boston cruised to the AL East division crown in 1975, swept the A's in the ALCS, and then took the Big Red Machine up to a seventh game in the thrilling 1975 World Series.  Unfortunately, Boston struggled in 1976 and he was dismissed midseason.

Red Sox record: 220-188.

Hunter is the only University of Nebraska alumni to be drafted by and make it to the Majors with the Boston Red Sox.  Unfortunately, his career was so short that he never even had a baseball card made, not even a minor league card.  Hunter's Major League career consisted of three non-sequential years (1971, 1973, 1975) in which he spent 8, 13, and 1 games at the big league level.  He had just five hits in 24 plate appearances, two of which were doubles.  Hunter was born in Omaha.

Red Sox stats: .294/.478/.412, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 3 runs.

Boggs was also born in Omaha, though he grew up in Florida.  I don't have to do much to introduce Boggs, the third-baseman was one of, if not the, best hitter in the 1980's.  He had seven straight seasons of 200 hits and won five batting titles.  He is a member of the 3,000 hit club and was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the Red Sox.  This year, he had his number 26 finally retired by the Red Sox.  Boggs was one of the best players when I first started watching baseball and he was my first favorite player.  Boggs also won six Silver Sluggers and was an All Star eight times.

Red Sox stats: .338/.428/.462, 85 home runs, 687 RBIs, 2,098 hits, 1,412 walks.

Richardson was a native of Grand Island, which was 20 miles south of St. Paul and is located pretty much right in the center of the state.  Richardson was a utility infielder that spent only a part of one season with the Red Sox.  He played in 15 games with the Red Sox in 1993, playing second, short, third, and designated hitter.  He was flawless in the field, yet deeply flawed at the plate.

Red Sox stats: .208/.240/.298, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 3 runs.

Finally, Scottsbluff native Kip Gross was also a Cornhusker who played for the Red Sox.  Gross came up with the Reds and played with the Dodgers, and then spending several years pitching in Japan before joining the Red Sox in 1999.  Gross pitched in just 11 games with the Red Sox.  His stint was too short to warrant a baseball card.

Red Sox stats: 0-2, 7.82 ERA, 9 strikeouts, 8 walks in 12.2 innings.

Three Major League Nebraska natives played in the minors with the Red Sox, all three were catchers.  Those three were Jerry Zimmerman (Omaha), Todd Pratt (Bellevue), and B.J. Waszgis (Omaha).
I don't have this card either, but would love to.


  1. I can probably locate the Zimmerman for you. Just recently picked up the t207 Nunemaker