Mo Vaughn

Who are the best first basemen in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best first basemen in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Carl Yastrzemski played so long, only four players in Red Sox history appeared in more games at first base -- Jimmie Foxx, Mo Vaughn, George Scott, and 1920s fixture Phil Todt, whom the Yankees reportedly tried to acquire for Lou Gehrig in 1925 (whoops).

As we break down the top players at each position across more than 100 years of Red Sox baseball, Yaz could easily crack the list at first, since he made five All-Star teams and delivered his second greatest season -- .329-40-102 in 1970 -- there.

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But we're limiting each player to one appearance in this exercise, so we'll revisit Yaz when it comes time to rank the left fielders. In the meantime, there's no shortage of outstanding talent at a position known for power, with MVPs, batting champs, and sluggers galore.

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10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

Today should've been the 108th opener at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox as they were to host the Chicago White Sox to begin their home schedule.

But as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that as well as the rest of the world. 

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There's still hope that they'll be baseball at Fenway in 2020, but on the day the gates were supposed to open and signal the unofficial start of spring in Boston, let's look back at a few of the Red Sox's most memorable individual performances with some Opening Day Dreaming Delivered by Coors Light.

April 20, 1912

The Red Sox christened Fenway Park by beating their rivals from New York, then known as the Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings before 24,000, including Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, grandfather of future president John F. Kennedy, and the Royal Rooters.

Tris Speaker (pictured, 3-for-6, two RBI, game-winning single) and Steve Yerkes (5-for-7) were your hitting heroes for a team that would go on to win the World Series. 

April 12, 1916

A left-hander named Babe Ruth held the Philadelphia A's to one unearned run on four hits and strikes out six in 8 1/3 innings. He went 0-for-2 batting ninth, proving he didn't have much of a future as a hitter. The '16 Sox would go on to win the World Series. 

April 6, 1973

On a day that featured the debut of the designated hitter in the American League, catcher Carlton Fisk, coming off his rookie of the year season, got his second year off to a booming start with three hits, including a two-run homer of Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre, and six RBI as the Sox spotted their archrivals a three-run lead and roll, 15-5.

(Now, if we could just forget Fisk's three-run, eighth-inning homer for the White Sox in a 5-3 Red Sox loss in the Fenway opener in '81 after Boston let him switch Sox as a free agent that winter.) 

April 10, 1998

Mo Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam to cap the Red Sox' rally from a five-run deficit off a Mariners bullpen that featured ex-Sox relievers Tony Fossas and Heathcliff Slocumb and future Sox reliever Mike Timlin.

Those that stuck around Fenway when it was 7-2 to start the ninth headed home happy after an 8-7 win on Opening Day. The Sox would go on to make the playoffs at 92-70 but were eliminated in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. 

April 1, 2002

Tony Clark, the future head of the MLB Players Association, was a Red Sox first baseman for 90 games in 2002. In the first of those, he went 3-for-5 with a home run and drove in three runs.

The Sox needed all of them in a wild 12-11 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Clark would help the Sox out even more two years later when, as a Yankee, his ground-rule double in the ninth kept Ruben Sierra from scoring from first and ending ALCS Game 5 and with it, the Sox' World Series hopes.

April 11, 2005 

In addition to being memorable for the pregame ring ceremony and banner raising that was 86 years in the making (and for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera being cheered and Alex Rodriguez, pictured, jeered by the Fenway fans for their roles in the Sox' 2004 pennant), the Sox got a strong pitching performance from Tim Wakefield in an 8-1 thumping of the Yankees.

Veterans of '04 Wakefield (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 SOs), Trot Nixon (2-for-3, two RBI) and Doug Mirabelli (two-run homer) started '05 off right.

April 8, 2008

The Sox home opener in 2008 was another banner-raising day that included a tearful Bill Buckner emerging from the Green Monster to a standing ovation to throw out the first pitch.

After the pregame festivities, the Sox rolled to a 5-0 shutout over the Detroit Tigers. Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-3 with two RBI and Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. 

April 7, 2009

Josh Beckett held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run on two hits and struck out 10 as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.

Beckett would go on to win 17 games and the Sox racked up 95 victories that season before being swept by the Angels in the ALDS.

April 8, 2013

Clay Buchholz got another championship season off to a great start as he shut out the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings on three hits.

Daniel Nava's three-run homer provided the offense in a 3-1 victory.

April 13, 2015

Mookie Betts showed off his future MVP form early in the 2015 season with a 2-for-4, four-RBI day that included a three-run homer in the second inning and two stolen bases in the first.

All of that came after he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run in the first with a leaping grab in front of the bullpen fence in right. The Sox went on to a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals but it didn't portend to good things as they finished 78-84 and last in the AL East. 

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Betts becomes 22nd player in Red Sox history to hit three HRs in game

Betts becomes 22nd player in Red Sox history to hit three HRs in game

On Tuesday night, Mookie Betts became the 22nd player in Red Sox history to hit three home runs in a game. The feat has now been accomplished 27 times, with four players -- Ted Williams (3), Jim Rice (2), Mo Vaughn (2) and Nomar Garciaparra (2) -- achieving it more than once. The complete list:

WILL MIDDLEBROOKS -- April 7, 2013 at Toronto (13-0 win)

DUSTIN PEDROIA -- June 24, 2010 at Colorado (13-11, 10-inning win)

KEVIN MILLAR -- July 23, 2004 vs. New York Yankees (8-7 loss)

BILL MUELLER -- July 29, 2003 at Texas (14-7 loss)

NOMAR GARCIAPARRA -- July 23, 2003 vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (22-4 win)

JASON VARITEK -- May 20, 2001 at Kansas City (10-3 win)

TROT NIXON -- July 24, 1999 at Detroit (11-4 win)

NOMAR GARCIAPARRA -- May 10, 1999 vs. Seattle (12-4 win)

MO VAUGHN -- May 30, 1997 vs. New York Yankees (10-4 win)

MO VAUGHN -- September 24, 1996 vs. Baltimore (13-8 win)

JOHN VALENTIN -- June 21, 1995 vs. Seattle (6-5, 10-inning win)

JACK CLARK -- July 31, 1991 vs. Oakland (11-10, 14-inning win)

TOM BRUNANSKY -- September 29, 1990 vs. Toronto (7-5 win)

JIM RICE -- August 29, 1983 (second game of doubleheader) at Toronto (8-7 win)

JIM RICE -- August 29, 1977 vs. Oakland (8-7 loss)

CARL YASTRZEMSKI -- May 19, 1976 at Detroit (9-2 win)

FRED LYNN -- June 18, 1975 at Detroit (15-1 win)

JOE LAHOUD -- June 11, 1969 at Minnesota (13-5 win)

KEN HARRELSON -- June 14, 1968 at Cleveland (7-2 win)

TED WILLIAMS -- June 13, 1957 at Cleveland (9-3 win)

TED WILLIAMS -- May 8, 1957 at Chicago White Sox (4-1 win)

NORM ZAUCHIN -- May 27, 1955 vs. Washington Senators (16-0 win)

CLYDE VOLLMER -- July 26, 1951 vs. Chicago White Sox (13-10 win)

BOBBY DOERR -- June 8, 1950 vs. St. Louis Browns (29-4 win)

TED WILLIAMS -- July 14, 1946 (first game of doubleheader) vs. Cleveland (11-10 win)

JIM TABOR -- July 4, 1939 (second game of doubleheader) at Philadelphia Athletics (18-12 win)