As the nation marshaled its resources for what was clearly going to require a fully united effort, baseball did its small part by not tying up the trains any more than necessary and training closer to home. The Red Sox did much of their work indoors just a few miles from Fenway, at Tufts College in Medford, Massachusetts.
There was considerable turnover on the Red Sox – and every other team in baseball – as hundreds of major- and minor-league players entered military service. Some older players got a second chance, and some career minor leaguers finally had the opportunity to play in the big leagues. The top average on the Red Sox belonged to Pete Fox, a 10-year veteran who at age 34 was above draft age. He hit for a .288 average in a year that saw the overall club average drop to .244.
Jim Tabor’s 85 RBIs (with 13 homers) led everyone else by 10; Bobby Doerr was second, with 75 (16 homers). No one scored more runs than Doerr’s 78.
Player-manager Joe Cronin, age 36, appeared in 59 games, but most of them as a pinch-hitter. He was 18-for-42 (.429) as a pinch-hitter, with 25 RBIs. On June 15, he hit a three-run homer pinch-hitting against the Philadelphia Athletics. Two days later, he hit a three-run homer when pinch-hitting in the seventh inning of the first game, then hit another three-run homer when pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of the second game.
Ted Williams played one game in Boston. It was an exhibition game at Braves Field on July 12. Managing Ted’s team was Babe Ruth, and one of Ted’s teammates was Joe DiMaggio. Ted’s home run helped the “Ruth All-Stars” beat the Braves, 9-8. Another player in the game was Walt Dropo, in from Fort Devens. Seven years later, Dropo had his rookie year.
Tex Hughson had just about as solid an earned run average as he’d had in 1942, 2.64, but won 10 fewer games, finishing 12-15. Oscar Judd was 11-6 (2.90). No other Red Sox pitcher won more than Dick Newsome’s eight. The team may have suffered more than most by wartime changes in personnel. After winning 93 games in 1942, the 1943 Sox only won 68 games and finished in seventh place, 29 games out of first. They hadn’t finished that poorly since 1933.By Bill Nowlin
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- Bobby Doerr, Dick Newsome, Jim Tabor, Joe Cronin, Oscar Judd, Pete Fox, Ted Williams, Tex Hughson, Walt Dropo