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The strike of 1994 remained unresolved in 1995. Spring training had been a bit of a shambles, with the first 31 games played using “replacement players” and, once the strike ended, a short 12-game exhibition season with the regular players. The regular season was played out per the schedule, after the first 18 games were lopped off, a 144-game schedule starting for Boston with a one-game series against the Twins at Fenway Park. Aaron Sele threw a two-hit 9-0 shutout. Mo Vaughn drove in three and both Mike Greenwell and Jose Canseco (now playing for the Red Sox) drove in two apiece. Dan Duquette nearly pulled off a bit of a coup in late January. With no collective bargaining agreement in place, the rules regarding signings were unclear. Duquette took advantage of the situation and signed contracts with Sammy Sosa, relief ace John Wetteland, and starting pitcher Kevin Appier. But when the National Labor Relations Board intervened in the strike, they restored the status quo ante, dooming Dan’s dealings. A pair of players released by other teams were snapped up, though – left-fielder Troy O’Leary and knuckleballing pitcher Tim Wakefield. Wake, who’d begun his career as a minor-league first baseman in the Pirates system, got off to a Clemens-like start, with a 14-1 record after a 3-2 win over the Orioles on August 13. His first game had been a 12-1 laugher over the Angels, but then won a 1-0 game in Oakland and a 10-inning complete game 2-1 victory over Seattle in Boston. He lost his last four decisions, and ended with a 16-8 record with a 2.95 ERA. Erik Hanson was 15-5, but with a 4.24 ERA. Roger Clemens was 10-5, with a 4.18 ERA. Ted Williams well knew that the MVP was in part a popularity contest. Mo Vaughn was voted AL MVP over Cleveland’s Albert Belle, even Belle hit 50 home runs compared to Mo’s 39. They each had 126 RBIs, but Belle hit .317 compared to Vaughn’s .300. John Valentin had been second-best on the Red Sox, with 27 HRs, 102 RBIs, and a .298 average. Canseco was third with 24 HRs, 81 RBIs, and a .306 average. There were only six days all year, all in early May, in which the Red Sox were out of first place. From May 13 on, first place was theirs with a lead ranging as high as 15 ½ games ahead of the #2 team, finishing 86-58, seven games ahead of the Yankees – who won the wild card slot. The Sox clinched on September 20, at Fenway, and this time it was Mo Vaughn, not Clemens, who mounted a Boston Police horse on the field as part of the celebration. Two Vaughns had been involved in a nice win early in the year, the May 2 game at Yankee Stadium. Boston won, 8-0, with all the runs scoring on two grand slams, one each by a former Seton Hall teammate whose last name started with a V: John Valentin in the third inning, and Mo Vaughn in the fourth. The winning pitcher was another Vaughn, last name Eshelman; it was his big-league debut. Winning the AL East, it was another trip to the postseason for the Red Sox, still smarting from being shut out completely in 1988 and 1990.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Aaron Sele, Albert Belle, John Valentin, John Wetteland, Jose Canseco, Kevin Appier, Mike Greenwell, Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Ted Williams, Tim Wakefield, Troy O'Leary, Vaughn Eshelman

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