Earl Webb set a major-league record that still stands: 67 doubles in the course of a season (and with a 154-game schedule at that). The old record had been 64. Webb led the team in batting, with an even .333 average, and in runs batted in with 103. He hit 14 homers as well, leading the Red Sox in that department, too. There was some murmuring that maybe he slowed down a few times “stretching a triple into a double”, one might say. Webb tripled just three times. Perhaps so. He did triple six times in 1930 and nine times in 1932. He likely didn’t hurt the ballclub any, though, if he did favor the hamstrings by taking it easy three or four times. One more win would have given them fifth place instead of sixth place, but other than that, it was a full 15 games in the standings to climb into the first division.

The year did see an improvement, which no doubt left new skipper John “Shano” Collins feeling he’d accomplished something. Indeed he did; the Red Sox finished in sixth place instead of eighth. They were 62-90 and almost tied for fifth (St. Louis finished with a .409 winning percentage and Boston was .408). After six seasons in a row mired in eighth, 1925-1930, the Sox were probably satisfied to bump up a couple of rungs.

Pitching talent was still scarce. Local favorite Danny MacFayden was 16-12 with a 4.02 ERA. He was the only one to win more games than he lost. Wilcy Moore was 11-13, and Jack Russell was 10-18, the only other two who hit 10 wins. Milt Gaston was a most unfortunate 2-13. It was an all-righthanded rotation; the only two lefties on the staff (Jud McLaughlin and Jim Brillheart) threw a combined 31 2/3 innings and each had zero wins and zero defeats.

After Webb’s 103 RBIs, it was a considerable drop to Tom Oliver’s 70 at #2. It was Urbane Pickering who was second in home runs, with nine.

This year, 1931, was the first year when the Red Sox wore uniform numbers on the backs of their jerseys. For more on that, read the book Red Sox By the Numbers.

By Bill Nowlin

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