Fenway Park's 100th anniversary team: Where do you put Ted Willams?
Fenway Park: Who are the best Red Sox players of the past 100 years? The Monitor goes outside the box to name its lineup.
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Fisk is a lock as the All-Fenway catcher. He actually played for the White Sox longer (13 seasons compared with 11 in Boston), but he will forever be envisioned wearing a Red Sox uniform, waving fair his famous game-winning home run during the 1975 World Series. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Fisk is in the Hall of Fame and is a New England native. Jason Varitek also enjoys solid credentials as a Red Sox captain on two World Series championship teams, plus he is the only catcher to ever be behind the plate for four no-hitters.Skip to next paragraph
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First base – Jimmie Foxx
One challenge in choosing an all-century team of any kind is that careers from the distant past are fuzzy if not forgotten. Jimmie Foxx is in the nearly forgotten category, but the unusual spelling of his name has helped keep his name, if not his achievements, alive. As regards the latter, during seven years with the Red Sox he batted. .320 and had 222 home runs, including 50 in 1938.
Second base – Dustin Pedroia
This may be the toughest position of all to pick the starter. The franchise’s current second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, has “future Hall of Famer” stamped all over him, while his leading rival, Bobby Doerr, is already enshrined in Cooperstown, although selected by the Veterans Committee in 1986. Doerr, a teammate of Ted Williams, played his entire 14-year career with Boston and flashed exceptional power for a second baseman, with 223 home runs. Pedroia, at 5 ft. 8 in., is even shorter than the 5 ft. 11 in. Doerr, yet possesses uncanny swing-from-the-heels power. He’s the sort of guy who would run through a brick wall to win. His skill has already earned him American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2007, a Most Valuable Player award in 2008, and Gold Gloves in 2008 and 2011.
Third base – Wade Boggs
This is one of the least competitive spots in the lineup. As the only Hall of Famer in the mix, Boggs has the hot corner sewn up. Because of his all-around contributions to two World Series champions, Mike Lowell, who retired after the 2010 season, naturally remains a favorite of many current fans. Still, there have been few better hitters in the modern era than Boggs. He finished his 18 years in the majors with a spectacular .328 batting average, five batting titles, and even two Gold Gloves, although those were earned while he played for the Yankees.
Shortstop – Nomar Garciaparra
Boston has had its share of talented and popular shortstops, including one of the most beloved of all alums, Johnny Pesky, and Joe Cronin, a seven-time All-Star who became the team’s successful manager in the 1930s and 1940s. Overall, however, it’s hard to pick against Garciaparra, even though his excessive batting rituals were a major distraction. Nomar’s .313 lifetime batting average is easily the best of all Fenway anniversary shortstop candidates, and besides hitting for average (he led the American League twice), the Georgia Tech product was a genuine slugger, with 30- and 35-home run seasons in Boston.
Left field – Carl Yastrzemski
How do you keep Ted Williams out of left field? You replace him with his successor, who mastered the art of playing in front of Fenway’s Green Monster and is generally considered the better fielder of the two. Williams stands as one of the greatest hitters of all time and certainly ranks as one of Boston’s most iconic sports figures. He deserves to be in the lineup (keep reading), but Yaz has seven Gold Gloves, the sixth-most hits in baseball history, and is the player best qualified to patrol left field.