At home, the Red Sox had the best record in the American League (49-28), but on the road they were just 30-47. This left them with a 79-75 winning record, but this also left them in third place again, 13 games behind the Yankees and three behind the White Sox.
The Tigers brought Ozzie Virgil to the big leagues. Now the Red Sox were the only one of baseball’s 16 teams which had never fielded a black ballplayer, and it was becoming a public relations problem.
They did hire Pete Runnels in January, though, getting him from Washington in a trade for Albie Pearson and Norm Zauchin. Runnels gave Ted Williams a run for the batting title. The two teammates were within points of each other on the next-to-last game of the year, when Runnels had a 4-for-6 today, only to see Ted go 3-for-4 and widen his lead a bit. Ted doubled in the last game of the season, and had the game-winner with a seventh-inning home run, ending up with a comfortable lead of .328 to Runnels’ .322. It was Ted’s sixth batting title, and his last one.
The previous Sunday, Williams – having just turned 40 three weeks earlier – showed he still had the passion. With the Red Sox losing by the same 2-0 score they’d lost by on the 20th, Ted was rung up on a third strike. He was furious with himself for taking the pitch and thoughtlessly flung his bat all the way into the stands. He was mortified when he saw it strike a woman. It was a less litigious age, but he probably lucked out that the woman he hit was Joe Cronin’s housekeeper, Gladys Heffernan. She immediately said she knew that Ted didn’t mean it. He did give her a very nice gift shortly in the days that followed.
Ike Delock became a starter and had the best ERA among the starters, with a record of 14-8. Frank Sullivan was 13-9. Leo Kiely appeared in 47 games in relief and led the club in ERA, an even 3.00. Brewer struck out the most opponents, but just had a 12-12 record, despite a good 3.72 ERA.
The Red Sox had their first MVP since Ted Williams in 1949. It was Jackie Jensen, with 35 HR’s and a league-leading 122 RBIs. Williams was second on the Boston ballclub, with 26 homers. Malzone was second in team RBIs with 87, two more than Ted.By Bill Nowlin
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- Albie Pearson, Frank Malzone, Frank Sullivan, Ike Delock, Jackie Jensen, Joe Cronin, Leo Kiely, Norm Zauchin, Ozzie Virgil, Pete Runnels, Ted Williams, Tom Brewer