February 7, 2013

1952-53: When Red Sox Pitchers Didn't Bat Ninth

In 1952 and 1953, Red Sox manager Lou Boudreau experimented in a handful of games by moving his pitcher out of the ninth spot in the Boston batting order. In 14 of 18 games, the Red Sox pitcher batted sixth:
1952            Pitcher             BOP
April 15        Mel Parnell         7th
May 10          Mickey McDermott    8th
May 11          Mel Parnell         8th
July 27   (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
July 30         Dick Brodowski      6th
July 31         Ralph Brickner      6th
August 7  (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
August 9        Mel Parnell         6th
August 11       Sid Hudson          6th
1953            Pitcher             BOP
May 30    (G1)  Mickey McDermott    6th
May 30    (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
August 22       Mickey McDermott    6th
August 23       Mel Parnell         6th
August 28       Bill Henry          6th
August 29       Mel Parnell         6th
August 30 (G1)  Hal Brown           7th
August 31       Mickey McDermott    6th
September 1     Willard Nixon       6th
The main pitchers were Parnell (5 times), Nixon (4), and McDermott (4). Brodowski, Brickner, Hudson, Henry, and Brown each did it once.

Those 18 games are the only times in Red Sox history - since Babe Ruth batted in the cleanup spot in 1919 - that a Boston pitcher has hit any place other than ninth. ...

During spring training in 1952, Austen Lake of the Boston Evening American wrote that Boudreau "has a high brain polish and the ability to improvise". Lake said that Boudreau's "elastic mind" allows him to "mak[e] the best use of the materials at hand" rather than resorting to "the mouldy orthodoxies" of the game.

The Sporting News agreed, noting that "Boston's young, resourceful manager is no slavish follower of the so-called 'book'. He does his own thinking. He doesn't let Abner Doubleday do it for him."
You can read the rest of my article at The Hardball Times.

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