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In January, the Red Sox hired Dan Duquette, at 35 years old the youngest GM in Red Sox history (until Theo Epstein, 28, was hired in November 2002). Tommy Harper, who’d worked under Duquette in the Montreal Expos organization, praised Duquette as a good choice for the Red Sox. Duquette inherited Boston’s major free-agent signing - Otis Nixon, signed in December 1993. The switch-hitting center fielder gave the Red Sox zero home runs and 25 RBIs. The 1994 season was the first in the American League divided into three divisions – East, Central, and West - with a Wild Card team able to qualify for the playoffs. In its first season, however, there was no wild card and there were no playoffs. The worst strike in baseball history began on August 10, and on September 14 Acting Commissioner Big Selig canceled the rest of the season and the World Series. The star-crossed season started ominously as Roger Clemens seemed to pick up where he left off in 1993, surrendering eight runs in 4 2/3 innings to the visiting Detroit Tigers. Fortunately, the Red Sox had six runs on the board themselves and added three more in the bottom of the eighth, with a two-run Billy Hatcher double and then Otis Nixon scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball, giving Boston a 9-8 victory. The Red Sox had two standout individual accomplishments in 1994. On April 12 against Kansas City, Scott Cooper hit for the cycle in a 22-11 Red Sox romp at Kauffman Stadium, and the Red Sox were 6-2 in the young season. Cooper almost denied himself the cycle (he was thrown out at home trying to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park home run). On July 8, shortstop John Valentin executed an unassisted triple play which thrilled the home fans. George Burns, in 1923, was the only other Red Sox player ever to turn one. In the top of the sixth, Seattle’s Marc Newfield hit a line drive that Valentin caught with the runners going, and he stepped on second and tagged Kevin Mitchell. It was carried off with such nonchalant aplomb that the Globe beat writer said "it took the Fenway fans a full two minutes" to realize what they'd just witnessed – an unassisted triple play. Taking his place in the batter’s box, leading off the bottom of the inning, Valentin hit a home run, and Boston scored three more runs, enough to win the game, 4-3. On June 1, the Red Sox were 30-19, in second place but only 2 ½ games from the top. They started losing, winning one and losing 15, finding themselves 32-34 and pretty much doing themselves in. There was an odd series at Fenway Park in late July. It was an unscheduled, unexpected homestand hosting the Seattle Mariners. The Sox had been on a West Coast road trip, but structural problems at the Kingdome required it to be close for repairs – so the four games were moved to Fenway by mutual consent. The Red Sox put last-minute tickets on sale at old-fashioned prices: $10 for a grandstand seat. Despite them originally being “home games” for Seattle, the Red Sox batted last in all four games. They split the set, two wins apiece, and then the Red Sox went back on the road. Butch Hobson finished his third year in a row with another losing record, 54-61 in the strike-shortened year Despite only playing the 115 games, the Red Sox wouldn’t likely have been anywhere near qualifying for the wild card. They were already 17 games out of first place when the curtain came down. Had Duquette still been in Montreal, he would have been justifiably even more upset – the Expos had a six-game lead over all the other teams in the NL East. Even though baseball was closed for the strike throughout all of September, someone still did steal home plate at Fenway Park on September 7. Thieves managed to get into the park, dig up home plate, and take it as well as a few flags that had been flying on the roof. On September 20, the Red Sox let Butch Hobson go, and Duquette put his own man in place, hiring Kevin Kennedy, fresh on the market after two years with the Texas Rangers

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Billy Hatcher, Bud Selig, Butch Hobson, George Burns, John Valentin, Kevin Kennedy, Kevin Mitchell, Otis Nixon, Roger Clemens, Scott Cooper, Tommy Harper

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