Who are the best right fielders in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5
Right field at Fenway Park is one of the most unique positions in baseball. The expansive ground and quirky angles require not just a mobile defender, but a fearless one. A strong arm helps, too, lest the turnstiles between first and third just spin all game.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, there have been no shortage of exceptional right fielders over the years, including a number who didn't make our top five, like Dirt Dog Trot Nixon; postseason heroes J.D. Drew and Shane Victorino; and Earl Webb, whose 67 doubles in 1931 remain one of the longest-standing single-season records in the game.
The final list includes a Hall of Famer, two MVPs, a hometown hero, and one of the franchise's longest tenured stars.
5. Tony Conigliaro
The pride of St. Mary's of Lynn, Tony C. saw his career cut short by tragedy.
Signed by his hometown Red Sox at age 17 in 1962, he reached the big leagues two years later and homered in his first Fenway Park at-bat. He blasted 24 homers as a 19-year-old rookie, a record for a teenager that still stands. He led the league with 32 bombs a year later and by 1967 looked like a superstar to pair alongside Carl Yastrzemski for years to come.
Then came a wayward Jack Hamilton fastball one August night during that otherwise magical Impossible Dream season, leaving Conigliaro with a broken cheekbone and damaged retina. The image of him laid up in a hospital bed, his eye grotesquely swollen, came to symbolize the stolen promise of his career. Though he slammed 36 homers in 1970 in one of the game's great comeback stories, his vision was never the same, and he retired after an aborted comeback in 1975.
4. Jackie Jensen
Jensen is the rare player who came up with the Yankees but then went on to stardom with the Red Sox.
Known as the Golden Boy at Cal, where he starred in football and baseball, Jensen came to the Red Sox in a 1953 trade with the Senators and joined baseball's best outfield alongside Jimmy Piersall and Ted Williams. He led the league in steals during his Red Sox debut and RBIs a year later, making an All-Star team in the process. He really put it all together in 1958, slamming 35 homers with 122 RBIs and winning the MVP award. He posted similar numbers a year later and won his only Gold Glove.
While Jensen's professional life was soaring, his personal life was crumbling, however. An intense fear of flying led to anxiety that curtailed his career. He retired in 1960, returned in 1961, and then hung them up for good.
3. Harry Hooper
Long before the Curse of the Bambino, the turn-of-the-century Red Sox were a powerhouse, winning five World Series between 1903-18.
Hooper was there for the last four of them, batting leadoff, playing what contemporaries described as the most gifted right field in the game, and delivering in the clutch on a star-studded roster. A standout of the Dead Ball Era, he hit .272 and stole a franchise-record 300 bases before being traded to the White Sox for the final five years of his career in 1920. He also excelled in four World Series, hitting .293 and in 1915 equaling his regular-season home run total of two in a five-game win over the Phillies.
He retired with over 2,400 hits and 1,400 runs, earning enshrinement in Cooperstown via the Veterans Committee in 1971.
2. Mookie Betts
Had Betts remained in Boston for more than six seasons, there's little doubt he would've landed atop this list. But rather than risk letting him walk away in free agency with nothing to show for it, the Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers after the 2019 season.
While here, Betts did it all. He arrived in 2014 as a relatively unheralded fifth-round pick who had blossomed in the minors, and it didn't take him long to stamp himself as a superstar. He made his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove in 2016, when he finished second to Mike Trout in the AL MVP race. That just set the stage for 2018, when he won a batting title and recorded the second 30-30 season in franchise history en route to the MVP award and a World Series championship.
He finished his Red Sox career with four straight All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves, and three Silver Slugger awards.
1. Dwight Evans
Much like Kevin Youkilis, Evans' name should conjure memories of the low rumble that accompanied chants of "Dewey!" at Fenway Park. He spent all but one of his 19 seasons in Boston, where he made three All-Star teams, won eight Gold Gloves, employed 250 batting stances, and generally operated below the radar alongside bigger stars like Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Carlton Fisk.
In reality, he was a borderline Hall of Famer. Because he starred just before the dawn of the Steroid Era, his lifetime numbers — 385 home runs, .840 OPS — suffer comparatively. But he was a 67-WAR player throughout his career, and had the Red Sox won Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, he might've challenged Bruce Hurst for MVP after hitting .308 with two homers and nine RBIs. His career may have temporarily fallen through the cracks of history, but there's been a renewed interest in his Hall of Fame case over the last couple of years.