The 19-year-old phenom from San Diego, Ted Williams, rubbed Joe Cronin a little bit the wrong way in spring training with his cocksure demeanor, and Joe thought he needed more seasoning and so shipped him to Boston’s to farm club, the Minneapolis Millers for a year under manager Donie Bush. Never one to mince words, Williams told one of the outfielders, “I’ll be back, and I’ll be making more money than the three of you put together.” Williams won the Triple Crown in the American Association, leading in homers, RBIs, and average. And maybe matured a little.
Speaking of Triple Crowns, Jimmie Foxx came very close to winning it in the American League. He drove in 175 runs (29 more than second-place Hank Greenberg), led the league in batting average with .349 (Ben Chapman’s .340 ranked him third in the league), and in most years the 50 home runs he hit would easily have won the home run title. He came in second. Hank Greenberg hit 58. For more than half a century, Foxx held the team record for homers in a single season until David Ortiz knocked out 54 in 2006. The 175 runs batted in still holds as the franchise mark for RBIs. He drove in so many runs that he knocked in over 100 in Fenway Park alone, 104 to be precise. With 305 points out of a possible 336, he was named MVP for the third time in a seven-year stretch.
Left fielder Joe Vosmik banged out 201 hits on the year, to lead the league. Fellow outfielder Doc Cramer collected 198 hits to finish second. Throughout the years, 1938 remains the only year in which the Red Sox have been first and second in hit. Doerr’s .289 was the lowest among the primary position players. The Red Sox hit .299 as a team. Cramer, Foxx, and Vosmik all scored over 100 runs. Higgins drove in 106.
If they’d only had a standout pitcher or two, they could have crept closer to the first-place New York Yankees. Jack Wilson and Jim Bagby both won 15 games. Grove was 14-4 and Ostermueller was 13-5.
As it was, despite placing second in the standings, the Red Sox ended the year 9 ½ games behind the leaders.By Bill Nowlin
- Ben Chapman, Bobby Doerr, David Ortiz, Doc Cramer, Donie Bush, Fritz Ostermueller, Hank Greenberg, Jack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Joe Vosmik, Pinky Higgins, Ted Williams