Financial salvation came in the nick of time – though the whole team came somewhat close to being killed not long after the deal was struck to sell the Red Sox. It was Tom Yawkey who bought the team for Bob Quinn, and it stayed a Yawkey team from 1933 until 2002. He was young and he became immensely wealthy on his 30th birthday in February 1933, inheriting millions upon millions of dollars. He spent about $1.5 million to purchase the team, and then started spending and spending in a quest to build a better ballclub. One of his first moves was to hire Eddie Collins as general manager and right-hand man.
The deal was struck to buy the Red Sox in February, but on April 2, as the team was traveling north following spring training, the train they were on got in a very serious wreck – bad enough that the engineer and the fireman were both killed. It happened in the wee morning hours and all the Sox players were thrown out of their bunks as the cars overturned, but none of the players were seriously hurt – and they even beat the Jersey City Skeeters by a 12-0 score in the day’s exhibition game.
Five games into the season is when formal ownership transferred. A few weeks later, Yawkey started buying players. One of the first deals was to send $100,000 to the Yankees for infielder Billy Werber and pitcher George Pipgras. Werber was a utility man but got into a lot of games, collecting 471 plate appearances, but he only hit .259 with almost no power. He blossomed in 1934, however, and led the league in stolen bases for three of the four years that followed ’33. Pipgras had been a 24-game winner back in 1928 and was coming off a decent 16-9 season; he contributed a 9-8 record to the Red Sox. It was a start, if an expensive one, but the turnover as the year progressed and after the season was dramatic. By the end of December, not even one player who’d been on the 1931 club remained on the Red Sox roster.
Leading the 1933 team in pitching was Gordon Rhodes, 12-15 (if you call that leading – he had the most wins, anyhow). The best ERA was Bob Weiland’s 3.87, but his W-L record was 8-14. Roy Johnson, who’d come over in the Earl Webb trade the year before, drove in 95 runs, hit 12 homers, and batted .313, leading the team in all three categories.
$125,000 and a couple of players brought Boston three men from the Athletics: Lefty Grove, Max Bishop, and Rube Walberg.
The Sox also bought another ballclub, too – installing the Reading Red Sox into the NY-Penn League (the team that had been in Reading had moved to Albany in the middle of 1932). It was the first in a network of farm clubs and working agreements with other clubs that the Red Sox started to put together.
The Red Sox finished seventh, 63-86, but there were positive signs. One side note, apparently not made much of at the time. You might remember that when Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in the final days of calendar 1919, he also borrowed money from the Yankees owners, putting up Fenway Park as collateral. When the lowly Red Sox dared to sweep the Yankees in a four-game series running from June 11-15, Yanks owner Jacob Ruppert called the mortgage. This wasn’t Quinn he was dealing with. Tom Yawkey pulled out his checkbook and bought full title to the ballpark.By Bill Nowlin
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- Billy Werber, Bob Quinn, Bob Weiland, Earl Webb, Eddie Collins, Fenway Park, George Pipgras, Gordon Rhodes, Jacob Ruppert, Lefty Grove, Max Bishop, Roy Johnson, Rube Walberg, Tom Yawkey