Things fell apart in 1960. After the 75-79 finish in ’59, the Sixties began with just 65 wins in ’60 and a seventh-place position in the A.L. standings, 32 games behind…who else? The Yankees.
The team’s batting average improved somewhat, but the ERA dropped significantly, from 4.17 to 4.62. One of the reasons the BA improved was Pete Runnels. He won the American League batting title. Runnels hit .320. His best day in his 1960 quest was on August 30, when he went 9-for-11 in a twilight/night doubleheader, both games going into extra innings.
Williams asked for a nearly 30% paycut, telling Tom Yawkey that he hadn’t earned his money with his .254 season in 1959 and wanting one more year. He rebounded to .316 and led the team in home runs, with 29. First baseman Vic Wertz drove in a club-best 103 runs. Frank Malzone was second with 79 – and one of the highlights of the year was the feel-good Frank Malzone Day.
Manager Billy Jurges was, like Johnny Pesky was a few years later, frustrated with the ballclub, and all signs pointed to sullen GM Higgins. Jurges probably sealed his own fate, telling the Globe’s Clif Keane in late May, “I know what’s wrong with this club, but I can’t do anything about it. My hands are tied.” On June 10, Jurges was said to have needed a leave to get some rest – and Higgins was brought back as skipper. One week later was when Ted Williams hit the 500th home run of his career – and won the game for pitcher Frank Sullivan.
As usual, Williams dominated the headlines (and much of the offense). Less heralded than his 500th home run was his 2,000th base on balls. Only Babe Ruth had drawn that many walks; Ted still holds the career mark for patience at the plate, walking in 20.64% of his plate appearances. In the same game he earned walk #2,000 – on August 20 – he hit two three-run homers, the second one (#515) giving the Red Sox a come-from-behind victory.
The pitching staff was led by 24-year-old Medford, MA native, Bill Monbouquette, though it only took 14 wins to lead the pack. Monbo was the starting pitcher in 1960’s first All-Star Game.By Bill Nowlin
- Babe Ruth, Bill Monbouquette, Billy Jurges, Frank Malzone, Johnny Pesky, Pete Runnels, Pinky Higgins, Ted Williams, Tom Yawkey, Vic Wertz