Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon

November 23, 1980
6' 4"
225 lbs
Major League Debut:
7-31-2005 with BOS
Allstar Selections:
2007 BR

He was the Red Sox closer during most of 2006. In early September, Papelbon injured his shoulder. When the Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention, he was shut down for the rest of the season to rest. Papelbon was being groomed to be part of the Red Sox starting rotation, but because of his shoulder problems, was later moved back to the bullpen before the start of the season and remained the team's closer. On August 21, 2007, Papelbon had his 30th save of the season making him the first Boston pitcher to ever have two 30-save seasons. As of July 1, 2009, Papelbon holds the record of most saves by a Red Sox pitcher, beating Bob Stanley's previous record of 132 saves.


Early career

High school

Papelbon was a three-time All-City honoree while playing in high school for Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, FL. Early in his senior year, he committed to play college baseball for Mississippi State.

College: Mississippi State

Papelbon was a closer for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. He had a 9–6 record, 13 saves, and 2.90 ERA in his three years on the team in relief. During his time at MSU, the Bulldogs appeared in the 2001 and 2003 NCAA Tournaments and won the 2001 SEC Tournament. In the summer after his freshman year, Papelbon played with the Silver Spring-Takoma Park Thunderbolts in suburban D.C. The team is a part of a wooden bat league for college players. During the subsequent summers of his college career Papelbon played for the Danville Dans, a summer baseball team located in Danville, Illinois. Soon after arriving in Danville he easily became a crowd favorite and led the team to a CICL championship. Papelbon graduated from Mississippi State in 2003.

Minor leagues

After a 13–10 record for Class-A Lowell Spinners and Sarasota Red Sox from 2003–04, Papelbon was 5–2 in 14 starts for Double-A Portland in 2005. Promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, he went 1–2 with a 3.57 ERA in four starts, walking two and striking out 21 in 22.1 innings.

Major league career


Papelbon was drafted in the 4th round in 2003, a year after the Oakland Athletics picked him in the 40th round. He did not sign with Oakland because he wanted one more year in college to pitch and a chance to get to the College World Series, which his team failed to do. The Philadelphia Phillies had called him in round six to ask if he would sign if they drafted him, but he rejected the offer. Finally, the Red Sox drafted him the next year in the third round.

Papelbon made his major league debut with the Red Sox on July 31, 2005 against the Minnesota Twins, in which he went 5⅓ innings, struck out seven batters, and issued five walks in Boston's 4–3 victory. He did not receive a decision. He earned his first major league win on September 12, 2005, pitching three scoreless innings in an extra-inning game against the Toronto Blue Jays. In two postseason appearances in 2005, he pitched four scoreless innings against the eventual World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox had plans of slotting Papelbon into their starting rotation prior to the regular season in 2006. However, the incumbent closer, Keith Foulke, proved to be ineffective trying to come back from an injury-plagued 2005.


In April 2006, he changed his hair to a Mohawk style, after Charlie Sheen's character Ricky Vaughn from the film Major League due to a wager with teammate Kevin Youkilis in which they bet whether he could start the season with 10 scoreless innings.

On April 5, the second game of the 2006 season, Papelbon recorded his first career save in Texas. On April 29, 2006, he set a major league record with his 10th save, against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. No rookie in major league baseball history had recorded that many saves in the month of April.

The 25-year-old closer finished 2006 with one of the most dominant seasons ever for a rookie reliever. Papelbon saved 35 games, struck out 75 batters in 68 innings, and held opposing batters to a .167 batting average.

On October 11, 2007, Papelbon was named the 2007 winner of the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award." Papelbon garnered 39,043 votes out of almost 125,000 votes cast.

Papelbon dancing after 2007 American League Championship Series.

After the Boston Red Sox clinched the American League East title in 2007, Papelbon celebrated the victory by Irish step dancing in the middle of the Fenway Park diamond to the Dropkick Murphys' song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston", a song which he now is introduced to. Following the Red Sox American League Championship Series victory, he repeated his dance performance on the field with members of the band. For a third time, Papelbon did his dance on a flat bed truck with the World Series trophy over his head along with the Dropkick Murphys playing live during the Sox' Championship "Rolling Rally" Parade.

In late 2007 on Dan Patrick's radio show, David Ortiz revealed a friendly clubhouse wager that stated that Papelbon must perform his signature celebratory dance on demand for people wearing Boston Red Sox apparel. Terms of the bet were not disclosed, but it is rumored that Ortiz wagered 20 cases of Vitamin Water against Papelbon's offer of 1 free car from The Westville Motorsports Megastore, a local dealership he endorses. In Game 2 of the World Series Papelbon was brought in with the bases empty and 2 outs in the eight with the Red Sox leading 2–1 to face the Rockies best hitter, Matt Holliday. Papelbon gave up a single to Holliday before picking off Holliday to end the inning. Papelbon pitched a one-two-three ninth for the save.

In Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, he entered in the 8th inning to shut down the Colorado Rockies comeback, and pitched until the 9th where he threw the game-winning strikeout for the Red Sox as they clinched the 2007 Championship. He is well known for his victory jump with Jason Varitek.


On March 6, 2008, Papelbon agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox for $775,000. Papelbon's deal set the record for the largest contract for a closer not eligible for salary arbitration, topping Mariano Rivera's previous record by $25,000. Boston was under no obligation to pay Papelbon more than the league minimum of $390,000. On January 20, 2009, Papelbon agreed to a one-year $6.25 million contract with the Red Sox, avoiding arbitration. This is the largest contract for a closer in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Papelbon recorded his 100th career save on July 13, 2008. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings, Jonathan Papelbon's 0.930 WHIP through 2008 is the lowest in major league history.

Papelbon criticized former teammate Manny Ramirez in the April 2009 issue of Esquire magazine.

On June 29, 2009, Papelbon gained his 132nd save, in a 4–0 shut out against the Baltimore Orioles, tying Bob Stanley's record for most saves by a Red Sox pitcher. Two days later on July 1, Papelbon recorded his 133rd save with the Red Sox, starting a new record. On July 5, 2009, Jonathan was selected to represent Boston at the 2009 All Star Game.

Papelbon has been cited repeatedly for his slow play; on September 4, 2009 it was reported that he had been fined $5,000 for failing to deliver his first pitch within the required time in a September 1 appearance. Papelbon told the Boston Herald that he had been cited on at least five occasions and fined more than $10,000 for these violations. Papelbon jokingly added, "I think they're going to call my parole officer and put me away."

In the 2009 ALDS, Game 3, Boston down 2 games to none, Papelbon blew the save (causing Boston to be swept), allowing 4 hits, 3 runs, all of the runs scoring with 2 out. His difficulties continued into the next season. In 2010, he blew eight saves, leaving the possibility of him being traded elsewhere. The Red Sox ended up keeping Papelbon as their closer, and his productivity has seemingly improved over the 2011 season.

Papelbon will become a free agent after the 2011 season. There would be a possibility, for him to be traded to another team, or remain with the Red Sox nonetheless.

Personal life

His mother, Sheila, played softball at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his father, John, is the Deputy Director of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jonathan is the older brother of twins Josh Papelbon, former pitcher for the Brockton Rox, and Jeremy Papelbon, former pitcher for the Tennessee Smokies, the double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Papelbon and his wife, Ashley, live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Wayland, Massachusetts. On December 29, 2008, Ashley gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter. On April 17, 2010, Ashley gave birth to the couple's second child, a son.

He appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on October 31, 2007, after the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. On December 20, 2007, Papelbon claimed that his dog "Boss," chewed up the ball that recorded the final out of the 2007 World Series.

Papelbon is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and attends games at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium after the completion of the baseball season.

2007 World Series, Boston Red Sox, Closer, Jonathan Papelbon, Relief pitcher, Rolaids Relief Award
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