To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park (and perhaps sell some T-shirts and coffee table books while they’re at it), the Red Sox are seeking fans’ help in identifying the All Fenway Team: those players who represent the best that each position had to offer.
While it’s awesome to engage in such debates as “Most important third-baseman: Wade Boggs or Bill Mueller?” or “Who kicked more Yankee ass: Tek or Fisk?”, I prefer to spend my time drudging up the players whose tenure at Fenway was marked by outrage or flat-out indifference. In other words, my All “I Still Can’t Believe That Guy Played at Fenway” team.
Here are my top vote-getters by position:
Catcher, Rick Cerone: Was that really surly Rick Cerone, former Yankee and full-time asshole, working the plate at Fenway in 1988? Yep. And Cerone was frequently the agent provocateur on a team widely regarded as one of the most dysfunctional Sox teams ever. He even somehow prompted the usually level-headed Dewey Evans into the now-infamous “You want a piece of me?” oration.
Starting Pitcher, Erik Bedard: Rumor has it that Bedard pitched some games for the Sox in 2011, but I’ve found no proof to support this. However, I do believe that Bedard was the first player to ever leave Fenway for the last time not by bus or taxi, but by simply snapping his fingers and dissolving into thin air.
Closer, Rick Aguilera: One day in 1995, Aguilera was the closer for the Twins during a series against the Sox in Minneapolis. The next day, during the same series, he was traded to the Sox, walked across the park to the visitor’s clubhouse, and struck out Kirby Puckett to earn his first save for us. He helped the Sox win the East, but was a non-factor in an ALCS loss to Cleveland. The next year, he was gone. I once thought he might be Christina’s father. And that’s pretty much all I have to say about Rick Aguilera.
First Base, Nick Esasky: “Hey, Nick Esasky’s here to play first base for us.” “Excellent.” “Oh, wait a minute. He’s got vertigo.” “Shit.”*
Second Base, Jody Reed: Sporting a ‘stache and standing roughly 5’9″, Jody looked a bit like Jery Remy’s stunt double. He makes the list not because he didn’t play his balls off or tormented the fans, but simply because he had the single least-intimidating name in the history of the Boston Red Sox. When Jody Reed charges the mound, you don’t call for back-up. You simply set up a chair and soak in the comedy.
Shortstop, Edgar Renteria: Nuff said.
Third base, Shea Hillenbrand: Remembered less for having the lowest range factor among third basemen during his brief tenure with the Sox than for dissing Theo and the front office when they moved him for Byung-Hyun Kim. Would have made a great Yankee.
Left Field, Gentleman Bill Hall: He showed up. He played where we asked him to, mostly left field. Then he left. That’s the Bill Hall story right there. Who?
Center Field, Carl Everett: Very likely to go down as one of the most despised Red Sox players, but let’s give him this: If not for his ninth-inning hit on September 2, 2001, Mike Mussina would still be talking about his perfect game against the Sox at Fenway Park.
Right Field, Bob Zupcic: Right field at Fenway has long been known as the stomping ground of Dewey Evans, Trot Nixon, Dublin’s own Troy O’Leary and, more recently, JD Drew. But there was a time when that corner was all Bob, all the time. He didn’t make that much of an impression but, man, did he have the coolest sounding name that ever played Right Field (and I say that with all due respect to Faye Throneberry).
DH, Dante Bichette: There was actually a time when I uttered the words, “With Manny Ramirez and Dante Bichette in this line-up, the Red Sox will be invincible.” Shortly thereafter, I checked myself into Betty Ford.
Agree? Disagree? Got your own to add to the list? That’s why God invented the comments section.
*In fairness to Nick, I don’t believe his vertigo was ever a factor during his tenure in Boston, but was discovered later when he played for the Braves.