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Tom Yawkey knew he had to replace Pinky Higgins as manager, so he hired Johnny Pesky in October 1962 - but Yawkey couldn’t bring himself to get rid of Higgins and so made him the GM. Bad move – even though it was a promotion, Higgins resented the move and, as time passed, would hardly give Pesky the time of day, much less make the moves needed to improve the team.

A couple of moves made before things soured were two trades in November 1962. How often does a team trade off the reigning batting champion? The Red Sox did, knowing that Pete Runnels would be turning 35 before the ’63 season began, and sending him to Houston for Roman Mejias. Runnels career ended fairly quickly, though Mejias was never as good as they might have hoped. The Sox also sent Pagliaroni and Schwall to Pittsburgh for Dick Stuart and Jack Lamabe.

Stuart drove in 118 runs, more than anyone in the A.L. He banged out 42 homers, accounting right there for a big part of those 118 RBIs.

Pesky was young and energetic, and after beating the Yankees on June 28 the team was just a game and a half out of first place, 40-30. From that point on, it was a steady decline and by the time the season was over they were in seventh place, 76-85.

Bill Monbouquette won 20 games and lost 10, the first Red Sox pitcher since 1953 and Mel Parnell to win 20. And Dick Radatz was the closer, winning more games than most starters: 15-6 with an earned run average of 1.97. He struck out 162 opponents in 132 1/3 innings. And struck out five in two innings in the All-Star Game. He was a monster.

It wasn’t as rare for a Boston batter to win a batting crown – Williams won in 1957 and 1958 and Runnels won in 1960 and 1963. When Yaz won the title in 1963, it was his first (he won two more later in the Sixties), but it was the fifth one for a Red Sox player in the last seven seasons.

After the baseball season, Fenway Park was converted to a football field and hosted the American Football League’s Boston Patriots – from 1963 through 1968.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Bill Monbouquette, Carl Yastrzemski, Dick Radatz, Dick Stuart, Don Schwall, Jack Lamabe, Jim Pagliaroni, Johnny Pesky, Pete Runnels, Pinky Higgins, Roman Mejias, Tom Yawkey

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