The 1951 Sox opened up the season at Yankee Stadium, and lost the first two games of the year, then came home for the Fenway home opener and lost to Philadelphia, 6-3 with Mel Parnell taking the defeat. On May 15, the Red Sox held pregame ceremonies honoring members of the 1901 Boston Americans, the first year of the franchise that was now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Surviving members of the team – Cy Young and Fred Parent among them – were brought to Fenway Park for the day’s game against the White Sox. Although Chicago won the game in 11 innings, 9-7, those present got to see Ted Williams hit his 300th home run (which was more than the entire team had hit from 1901 through 1910). Shortly afterwards, the Bosox ripped off a 10-game win streak, the longest of the year. When the streak ended with a Memorial Day sweep of New York, they were still in third place – but they kept battling. The last game before the All-Star break, with another win over the Yanks, Boston was one team out of first. They took two from the White Sox the first game after the break, and took first place, holding it for nearly two weeks. A big part of their success in July can be credited to one man, Clyde Vollmer, who seemingly came out of nowhere – and had an incredible month. He’d only had 23 career home runs in six major-league seasons before July 4, but suddenly hit 13 homers in the month of July alone. Month done, he hit four homers the rest of the year and only 24 more in the years which followed. Vollmer drove in some key runs, too, such as with the July 28 grand slam he hit off Bob Feller in the 16th inning of the game on July 28. The Red Sox stayed in the race most of the way, and were only 2 ½ games out of first place as late as September 18. But then they lost 12 of their last 13 games – with only a Mel Parnell shutout of the Yanks on the 22nd preventing a total collapse. They still lose their last nine games and were shut out for the final three.

By Bill Nowlin

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