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In the up-and-down years of World War II, 1945 was a down year – back down to seventh place with a losing 71-83 record. The 4.29 team ERA of the Red Sox pitching staff was the worst in the league. There was really Boo Ferriss and no one else.

Left-hander Earl Johnson was otherwise occupied. In February, Sergeant Johnson was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic action in Europe and given a battlefield promotion to lieutenant.

Before the season began, there were efforts afoot to pressure the Red Sox into integrating the ballclub. No team had yet signed an African American ballplayer, but Boston City Councilor Isadore Muchnick had a plan to force the issue. Because the team had to apply annually for permission to play ballgames on Sundays, he said he would file a motion to deny the permit unless they took action to prove they were not discriminating on the basis of race. . On April 16, Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Marvin Williams were given a tryout at Fenway Park, put through their paces by coach Hugh Duffy. All agreed they performed very well, but not one of them ever heard from the Red Sox afterward. There was a missed opportunity here. In 1947, Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in the National League, and Jethroe won the same acclaim in 1950.

Just three days after the tryout, , Joe Cronin broke his leg and his playing career came to its end. He remained as manager through 1947.

Boo Ferriss was a rookie, age 23, and his first game was a 2-0 shutout in Philadelphia. His second game was a 5-0 shutout of the Yankees at Fenway Park. He threw 22 innings before giving up a run, and by June 1 was 6-0, only having allowed three runs in his first six starts – maybe the best start of any pitcher in the history of baseball. By season’s end, Ferriss was 21-10 (2.96), with five shutouts. It was a long step down to the pitcher with the second-most wins: Emmett O’Neill and he was 8-11 (5.15).

Worthy of note was the May 26 game at Fenway Park, where fans saw a most unusual play – an unassisted double play by center fielder Leon Culberson. Bob Johnson, 39, led the offense with 74 RBIs and with 12 homers. Not atypically, given the war, there were a number of players on the team who appeared in just the one season.

The All-Star Game bad been scheduled for Fenway Park in 1945, but was canceled because of wartime travel restrictions. There was instead an “All-Star replacement game” at Fenway, "Boston's United War Fund Game". The Red Sox beat the Boston Braves, 8-1.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
All-Star Game, Bob Johnson, Boo Ferriss, Earl Johnson, Emmett O'Neill, Hugh Duffy, Isadore Muchnick, Jackie Robinson, Joe Cronin, Leon Culberson, Marvin Williams, Sam Jethroe

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