One notch higher, with 80 wins against 72 losses, the Red Sox finished in fifth place. New York was first again. The team hit more homers than in 1936, achieved a higher batting average, and scored more runs, but again the pitching let them down. Grove won 17 games for the second year in a row (17-9, with a 3.02 ERA). Jack Wilson, another former Connie Mack pitcher, was 16-10 (3.70), the best year of his nine seasons in baseball. Bobo Newsom and Johnny Marcum each won 13, with 10 losses for Bobo and 11 for Johnny. The team ERA slipped slightly, from 4.39 to 4.48.
Newsom had arrived from the Senators on June 11, coming with right-fielder Ben Chapman, who hit .307 for the rest of the year (and even better in 1938). Heading the other way was Mexican-born Mel Almada and the brothers Ferrell, Wes and Rick. When he was asked what he felt about losing the two, Cronin then uttered the sentence that summed up how he felt about the one he neglected to mention: “I sure hated to lose Rick – good ball player, hard worker, easy to get along with.”
Double X – Jimmie Foxx - drove in 127 runs, Cronin drove in 110, and third baseman Higgins drove in 107. Foxx hit 36 homers, doubling Cronin’s 18. Center fielder Doc Cramer hit .305; the team batting average was .281. In left field, Colonel Buster Mills (yes, that was his name, which no doubt prompted a few jokes when he was in the Army) hit .295.
Less than two weeks after he turned 19, young Bob Doerr from Los Angeles debuted at second base, though he played for the most part backing up Eric McNair, a .292 hitter with 76 RBIs.
Red Desautels from Holy Cross was the catchers, backed up by Moe Berg – later employed by the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA) during World War II.
As late as August 13, the Red Sox had been in second place, but then came the decline.By Bill Nowlin
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- Ben Chapman, Bobby Doerr, Bobo Newsom, Buster Mills, Doc Cramer, Eric McNair, Gene Desautels, Jack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Johnny Marcum, Lefty Grove, Mel Almada, Moe Berg, Rick Ferrell, Wes Ferrell