One Sox player won a batting title, two others threw of no-hitters, and yet another won the Fireman of the Year Award – but Boston’s 76-84 final tally placed them eighth in the standings, 19 games out of first. Attendance decline yet another, by another 100,000 and then some.
The batting title was the second one won by Pete Runnels; his .326 led the league and it was the fourth title a member of the Red Sox had collected in the six seasons from 1957-62. Carl Yastrzemski boosted his production in his sophomore season to .296 with 19 home runs and 84 RBIs. Frank Malzone led the team both in home runs (19) and RBIs (85).
Monbouquette was the best pitcher, with a 15-13 record and a 3.33 ERA, edging out Gene Conley (15-14, 3.95), but the sensation of the pitching staff was “The Monster” – Dick Radatz, weighing in at 6’6” and 230 pounds. He led the league in appearances, games finished, and saves (with 24), putting up a record of 9-6 solely as a reliever, and a 2.24 ERA.
Radatz threw 125 innings in 62 games, and he was the one named Fireman of the Year. Probably his most spectacular game came on September 9 against the Yankees; Radatz came on in the seventh inning, gave up a run in his first inning, but then pitched eight shutout innings, until Boston scored a run in the 16th to win the game for him.
The first no-hitter belonged to Earl Wilson, and came on June 26 against the California Angels at Fenway Park. Wilson hit a solo home run off Bo Belinsky in the bottom of the third, the game-winning hit, taking the 2-0 decision despite four walks. Defense was key. Yastrzemski made a leaping catch at the wall, and Malzone a spectacular catch in the eighth. In the ninth, Eddie Bressoud made a great running of a soft liner up the middle. The game ended when Gary Geiger snared a 400-foot smash by Lee Thomas to right-center. Wilson was heralded as the first American League African American to throw a no-hitter. Tom Yawkey gave him a $1,000 bonus.
On August 1 in Chicago against Early Wynn, Bill Monbouquette struck out seven while giving up nothing but one second-inning walk. Boston scored a run in the eighth on three straight singles, and Monbo had his no- no, 1-0. The last time the Red Sox had thrown two no-hitters in one season was 1916.
Only a few days before Monbo’s gem, Gene Conley had caused a commotion. As the team bus was stuck in traffic leaving New York, he and Pumpsie Green left the bus to hit the head and maybe get a drink. They both went AWOL; though Green returned the next day, Conley turned up three days later trying to board a plane for Israel – without a passport.
The Sox honored the 50th anniversary of Fenway Park, on Golden Anniversary Day. Nine members of the 1912 World Championship team were on the field for the festivities.
In September, the Red Sox signed a 17-year-old kid just out of high school from Swampscott, MA. His name was Tony Conigliaro. In early October, they named Johnny Pesky to replace Higgins as manager. And in late November, they did something unusual – traded the reigning batting champ: Pete Runnels was sent to the Houston Colt .45’s for outfielder Roman Mejias. He’d hit 24 homers, was five years younger, and the Sox had added slugger Dick Stuart to the fold six days earlier.
The Red Sox had made two other moves of note, before the season. In early February, they had hired a full-time African-American scout, Ed Scott, to seek out black ballplayers, and in late March they had – of necessity – refurbished the Fenway Park press room. A major fire had destroyed it on March 25.By Bill Nowlin
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- Bill Monbouquette, Carl Yastrzemski, Dick Radatz, Dick Stuart, Earl Wilson, Ed Scott, Eddie Bressoud, Frank Malzone, Gary Geiger, Gene Conley, Johnny Pesky, Lee Thomas, Pete Runnels, Pinky Higgins, Pumpsie Green, Roman Mejias, Tom Yawkey, Tony Conigliaro