Red Sox player that you cared most about

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I'm not talking about which Red Sox player is your favorite, that's an easy and frankly boring topic (it's Pedro, forever and ever). I'm talking about the one Red Sox player that you cared the most about. The one that you'd wake up and see how he did the night before, or when he was up to bat or throwing a pitch, you'd want him to do especially well for reasons that are hard to fathom. I guess that the main difference between a player you care about and one that's your favorite is that your favorite player will usually be a star. Pedro is mostly always going to pitch lights out. Manny Ramirez may slump a bit here and there, but it doesn't last long. If Pedroia boots a ball, that won't happen again until the next Haley's Comet swings by.

But with the players that you care about, there's always that nagging thought in the back of your head that the next couple of oh-fors could get them a ride on the pine, a demotion to Worcester, or their release. To me, a player that I care about isn't a star, he may be sometimes, but he's just a hard-working dude trying to keep his job. I think that you can kind of see a bit of yourself in a player that you care about. And because this person isn't completely invincible, there are usually jackals in either the media or on social media ripping his foibles apart.

For me that player is Jackie Bradley Jr. though I can't tell you why I was so interested in JBJ. Because of his college pedigree, I followed him through the minors and from what I've read he seems like a good enough guy. Maybe I'm just a born contrarian and want to see the people (mostly media members) who didn't like him because of his streakiness or didn't appreciate his defense too much proven wrong. Yes, he was incredibly streaky and I was always wondering if his recent 2-3 night was going to lead to three weeks of him absolutely mashing the ball or whether an 0-4 meant him flailing at every pitch for the next month. The one thing that never went into his slump was his defense, I've never seen a better defensive center fielder in my life.

EDIT: No Hall of Famers allowed. Those people have reached and surpassed their potential. Everyone else is fair game.

What say you, SoSH?
 
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tims4wins

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Probably Papelbon, due to the legendary minor league threads. Followed him on here from very early and loved the payoff.
 

jezza1918

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Nomar. Saw him in Pawtucket and was in awe. And then I was friends with too many yankee fans in college from 2000-2004 and got into many heated Nomar vs. Jeter debates.
 

Ferm Sheller

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Dewey. Played here a long time. Played here when I was a kid. Had a sick kid, but was always upbeat and seemed like a true gentleman.
 

mwonow

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My mom, for reasons known best to her, really liked Denny Doyle. For me...well, I'd probably be better off giving this some thought, and maybe coming up with a player per era/decade instead of a single guy. Forced to choose this second, though, I'd probably go Papi, with Manny somewhere in the same room.
 

E5 Yaz

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George Scott ... and it isn't close.
I think it was the joy with which he played in his early days, particularly on defense, and that I thought he wasn't getting enough credit for what he meant to the team, particularly in 67.
I went to his wedding. Well, I went to the grounds at St. Barnabas Church in Falmouth, along with dozens of other kids, and ran about looking for any glimpse of him or the teammates who were there. Then came the horrid year of 68, and I must have sent him 3-4 letters that summer suggesting ways to he could get out of his slump.
When the trade to Milwaukee came, I bought six newspapers -- the Cape Cod Times, the Globe, the Herald Traveler, the Record American, the evening Globe and the New Bedford Standard Times -- just to glean what differences in the coverage I could from the stories.
It was more than just being a favorite player, it was like JMOH says, caring about about the guy. Pissed me off that after his playing days they simply refused to give him an organizational job.
 

Import78

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There are many stars I kept an eye on, and my immediate thought was Pedro or Ortiz. A little bit more in the spirit of the thread, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Rich Gedman. I know exactly why too. I was listening to a game with my dad and couldn't stay up for the whole game. This was probably mid 80s and for some reason I was very into this particular game. Sox were down and I fell asleep at some point. When I woke up my dad told me the sox pulled it out because Gedman had hit a grand slam. To 8 year old me this was an unbelievable feat and made him an immediate legend in my eyes. I rooted for him in particular ever after.

I also always liked Tim Wakefield, his team first attitude and team friendly contract as well as occasional absolute brilliance made him fun to watch and his dependence on a pitch so few people threw added to that.
 

Archer1979

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Tim Wakefield. Always admired his heart and frequently used him as an example when coaching Little League. He loved baseball so much that he converted himself from a position player to pitcher. Also his selflessness in both 2004 and 2007. I've got friends that posted selfies with him on FB and I was more envious of those than the ones that had selfies with some of the more famous players.
 
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Frank Malzone, because he lived at the end of my grandmother's street and I actually saw him in the flesh about a dozen times. I mean, what self-respecting 8 year old kid wouldn't be shaking in awe to see the Red Sox third baseman mowing his lawn? When taking swings in the back yard, I'd imagine myself being Frank Malzone (hitting endless home runs against Whitey Ford) and the first thing I'd look for every morning was the box score to see how Frank did.
 

teddywingman

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Trot Nixon. I was convinced that he had not yet reached his potential. And maybe he never did.

Similar to JBJ in some ways.

Luis Alicea was a player who deserved more respect.
 

OCD SS

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I'm with JMOH; I really rooted a little bit more for JBJ. I loved his defense and just wanted him to do well with the bat (really stabilize one of his hot streaks into real performance gains). If he came up in tight spot or with men on base, there was a little more oomph in my rooting interest.
 

Mooch

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Nomar.

Especially the 2000 season when he went in July hitting over .400.
 

IdiotKicker

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If we're going minor leaguers, I'd say Lars Anderson and Michael Bowden. If we're talking about guys who actually made it to the majors, Youk.
 

Van Everyman

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I'm not talking about which Red Sox player is your favorite, that's an easy and frankly boring topic (it's Pedro, forever and ever). I'm talking about the one Red Sox player that you cared the most about. The one that you'd wake up and see how he did the night before, or when he was up to bat or throwing a pitch, you'd want him to do especially well for reasons that are hard to fathom. I guess that the main difference between a player you care about and one that's your favorite is that your favorite player will usually be a star. Pedro is mostly always going to pitch lights out. Manny Ramirez may slump a bit here and there, but they don't last long. If Pedroia boots a ball, that won't happen again until the next Haley's Comet swings by.

But with the players that you care about, there's always that nagging thought in the back of your head that the next couple of oh-fors could get them a ride on the pine, a demotion to Worcester, or their release. To me, a player that I care about isn't a star, he may be sometimes, but he's just a hard-working dude trying to keep his job. I think that you can kind of see yourself in a player that you care about. And usually there are jackals in either the media or on social media ripping him apart.

For me that player is Jackie Bradley Jr. and I can't tell you why I was so interested in JBJ. Through his college pedigree, I followed him through the minors and from what I've read he seems like a good enough guy. Maybe I'm just a born contrarian and want to see the people (mostly media members) who didn't like him because of his streakiness or didn't appreciate his defense too much proven wrong. Yes, he was incredibly streaky and I was always wondering if his 2-3 night was going to lead to three weeks of him absolutely mashing the ball or whether an 0-4 meant him flailing at every pitch for the next month. The one thing that never went into his slump was his defense, I've never seen a better defensive center fielder in my life.

What say you, SoSH?
My 9 or so year old daughter would wake up every day the year JBJ had that 28 or 29 game hitting streak and ask me if he got a hit before she had even opened her eyes. I’m pretty sure that means he was her favorite. By your definition anyway.
 

Spelunker

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Mo. I read about him- likely in Baseball Weekly- when he was in AA, and then he mashed in AAA. Before he was in the majors I had him playing 1B for me in NES Baseball Stars and jacked the hell out of his power and hit skills so he was basically the league MVP. I felt like I was waiting for him forever to make it to the big leagues (but in fairness to myself, two years is a very, very long time when you're 13).
 

SoxJox

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If we're going minor leaguers, I'd say Lars Anderson and Michael Bowden. If we're talking about guys who actually made it to the majors, Youk.
Funny, I remember going to Spring Training in 2007 with my then-11 yo old son. I pointed to Lars and said to my son, "There is the next star 1st baseman for the Red Sox".

To be fair, he did make it to the majors for 3 very short stints.
 

BernieRicoBoomer

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Well, Sam Horn actually. I still remember the mammoth home run I saw him hit in spring training one year. I desperately wanted to see him realize his full potential.
 

Dick Drago

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George Scott in his 2nd incarnation—‘78 and ‘79 when everyone called for his benching.

Chuck Rainey-Jim Dwyer—Jim Rice his last horrid year or two-Mike Brown—Morgan Burkhart-Daubach-Wil Cordero (before spousal abuse) Eck in ‘98 when he was pretty washed up-Darren Bragg.
 

moretsyndrome

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Fred Lynn, even more than my namesake. WHY DID THEY LET HIM GO?

I remember for some reason being obsessed with him hitting .300 down the stretch in 1978. It might have been a coping mechanism as I watched in horror as their massive lead over the MFY eroded, but .300 was such a big deal back then. It's funny to think about now. I'd fire up my little TI calculator after every AB to see where he was it, and freak out if they were on the west coast and it was past my bedtime AND there was no box score the next day. A couple more hits in game 163 would have put him (and maybe the Sox) over the top.

A combination of him and Fisk leaving the team, my right arm flaming out in high school and girls put my pennant fever into remission in the early '80s. But I remember watching the '83 All-Star Game with a girlfriend who had almost no interest in sports and we both got up and yelled when he hit that grand slam and helped end the damn NL winning streak!

It's funny - I love baseball as much as ever, but hitting .300 and the All-Star Game don't mean much anymore. But he was the best, and having been lucky enough to meet him a few times certainly hasn't done anything to change my opinion of him. Great guy.
 

Jimbodandy

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First love was Fred Lynn. Yes, he was already a star in 1977 when I was starting little league and lived and died by the Sox. But I wanted to emulate him in the field (especially) and at the plate. Any ball hit deep into the outfield was another potential highlight, pre-ESPN. Guy was incredible.

From the "non-star" category, it was Al Nipper. His stuff was mediocre, but he was a bulldog. He'd try anything. He'd learn new pitches just to get guys out, because he wasn't going to blow away major leagers. His spring training fastball in the butt to Darryl Strawberry is one of my favorite moments as a fan. He was like if a T bus driver got a callup to the Sox rotation. He'd plunk Darryl in the butt too.
 

jezza1918

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Craig Breslow for me. Combo of Ivy League, Jewish, New England roots, and he was SO good in the minors then would come up here and be hot and cold. Also met him briefly once and he was very nice.
he was my 2nd choice. for all the reasons you mentioned...I spent a few hours with him when I worked in the minors down in Alabama and we had a great time talking Yale/Harvard, New Haven Pizza, his future goals, etc. And if I had to guess his attitude didn't change once he reached the show.
 

notmannysfault

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Brian Daubach, because he fits all of the criteria JMOH listed. It was always a question mark whether or not he was going to get another year with the club...until he didn't.

Evans was my favorite player, and will always be, but Daubach answers the original question. (I did occasionally worry Dewey would be traded though in the early '80s).
 
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macal

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Wakefield for me. There's something about knuckleballers that makes them a different breed. Most pitchers have a good idea of what they can expect in an outing. Wakefield had no idea. He could be a hero or a goat in every game. He had to go into every game knowing that a stadium full of fans and a region full of TV fans would either love him, or hate him, by the end of the game.
 

czar

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Clay Buchholz. Followed him through the system and felt semi-invested in his performance at the big league level. Was always kind of interesting digging into the box scores and understanding "good start, but lucky outcomes" or "bad start, but unlucky outcomes," etc. Thought he got an unfair shake from the fanbase, probably because he was hailed as a potential ace in the minors but also the streakiness. Thought the negative sentiment far outweighed the positive with him, unfairly so.

From the "non-big-name" category, probably Byung-Hyun Kim. Similar reasons (I also converted to pitching sidearm/submarine in college in the mid-2000's right before I gave up playing ball, so that, too).
 

CreightonGubanich

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It was Nomar for me. And while he was certainly a star, I cared about Nomar in a way that was different from other "favorite players". Guys like Pedro and Ortiz were always a little god-like. Nomar was somehow more accessible. I remember when BIll Simmons wrote that Pedro was Jimi Hendrix, a genius you could appreciate, but never quite understand, while Nomar was Bruce Springsteen, the everyday grinder.

I was 10 when Nomar made his debut, and 18 when he left, so his career corresponded pretty neatly with that time in life that I cared too much about sports. I remember, particularly later in his career, after the wrist injury had made it clear he'd never again get back to those same 2000-era heights, when Nomar seemed to need a lot of defending. The steroid whispers, the complaints about his defense, the weeks-long conveyor belt of infield pop-ups, the "this is why no one wants to f-ing play here". It always seemed somewhat fragile with Nomar, and in the end it was. He was supposed to be the next Ted Williams, and it just didn't work out. Winning in 2004 was amazing, but even now slightly tainted that it took shipping Nomar unceremoniously out of town to make it happen.
 

Ferm Sheller

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Brian Daubach, because he fits all of the criteria JMOH listed. It was always a question mark whether or not he was going to get another year with the club...until he didn't.

Evans was my favorite player, and will always be, but Daubach answers the original question. (I did occasionally worry Dewey would be traded though in the early '80s).
Not singling you out, merely using your post as a means of clarity:

Isn't JMOH asking simply for the player we care about the most (period)? In that case, if you care most about Dewey, there's your answer. Not Daubach (who's no higher than second).

If not, what was the purpose of this statement in the OP:

"To me, a player that I care about isn't a star, he may be sometimes, but he's just a hard-working dude trying to keep his job." (Emphasis mine)

And the guy JMOH cites isn't exactly chopped liver. He's the best defensive CFer in RS history and was a star in one of the four seasons that they've won a WS since the Spanish Flu (2018 ALCS MVP).
 

JOBU

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Nomar.

Especially the 2000 season when he went in July hitting over .400.
Definitely Nomar for me. As a 90’s New England kid playing shortstop I was obsessed with him. And like you I paid very close attention to the daily boxscores hoping he would break the 2000. This of course was before NESN was widely available in the central ct market.

after reading the rules… I guess Brock Holt.
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

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Daisuke.
I was so intrigued by his potential from the start, and he seemed like a good guy. Then all the haters started to surface and it make me root for him even more.
There are still a lot of haters (including here) who called his starts painful. I never saw it that way. Sure, I wish he could have harnessed his stuff more regularly, but damn, his stuff was so enticing to me that I loved watching it.
I was at Game 3 of the 2007 World Series, where he got the win and drove in two runs with a single. I felt so great for him.
 

Tim Salmon

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Lou Merloni, mostly because he seemed humble and friendly when he was in New Britain with the visiting Thunder (1997, I think). He came over to chat during warm-ups, acted surprised when I told him I was a fan and thought he’d be called up soon, signed a ball for me, and then asked his teammates to pass it around for signatures.

For a kid who idolized anyone good enough to play professional baseball, including utility guys, that was all it took for me to check every box score for Merloni.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Mine would be BHK. He wasn't here long but I wanted him to do really well. Part of that was fueled by what Schilling said about him in chat, partly because I didn't like Hillenbrand, because of the Yankee stuff, and he had been really good.
 

nattysez

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I really hoped Carl Crawford would be successful because it was so rare for a top African-American free agent to come to the Sox. I kept holding out hope for him even as it became clear that things were not going to work out. That was a frustrating experience.
 

billsleephus1

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Billy Mueller, "Yankee Killah". Kept his mouth shut, did his job. Came through in the clutch. Batting Champion while hitting 9th. One of the "25". Only player in ML history with Grand Slams from both sides of the plate in a single game.

During the pennant run in 2004, I went to the souvenir shop across the street from Fenway. EVERY player's jersey was up on the wall available for sale...except for #11, Billy Mueller. Even the souvenir shop forgot about him. True Dirt Dog, and it never mattered who got credit. "The Walk" and "The Steal" meant nothing without Mueller stroking one up the middle against Rivera's cutter. The rest is history
 

amRadio

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For me that's gotta be Jon Lester. I learned about him for the first time during the A-rod trade drama. I saw him the summer of 2005 in Portland - the year he won Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. I thought about him every day after his cancer diagnosis. Seeing the final box score of the clinching game in 2007 was such a trip. A win for Lester, saved by Papelbon with Ellsbury scoring a run; it felt like all of the promise in the minors was coming to fruition in a big wave and the immediate future was so bright. I was pretty young then so I had plenty of time to watch games and Lester was always must-see TV for me. I followed every out of his no hitter at work and ran home to catch the end with a roommate. Following him as a fan growing up, seeing him win it all twice, watching his relationship with Francona develop early on; he's gotta be my all time sentimental player.
 

DamageTrain

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I was a huge fan of Bob Stanley, perhaps because he was somewhat of an unlikable fellow. Always looked a bit uncomfortable in his uniform, curly hair escaping his hat. Smashing beach balls with his rake. He was not a particularly charismatic fellow. But when he was on, a damn good pitcher. And who knows why, I made a choice to be attached to him. (Perhaps because I shared some of his social awkwardness?)
 

Mooch

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Definitely Nomar for me. As a 90’s New England kid playing shortstop I was obsessed with him. And like you I paid very close attention to the daily boxscores hoping he would break the 2000. This of course was before NESN was widely available in the central ct market.

after reading the rules… I guess Brock Holt.
Yeah, re-reading the OP, Nomar isn't the correct choice.

I'd say Lou Merloni would be my pick.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Definitely Nomar for me. As a 90’s New England kid playing shortstop I was obsessed with him. And like you I paid very close attention to the daily boxscores hoping he would break the 2000. This of course was before NESN was widely available in the central ct market.

after reading the rules… I guess Brock Holt.
I think that Nomar passes the smell test. I mean, he was a star but for a lot of people in this thread he was the guy that they cared about when they were kids. I think that's okay. Nomar never reached his potential either, so there's something sor of tragic (probably too strong a word) but at least relatable about the guy -- how many of us truly reach our potential in life? I'm sure his life is full of regrets like ours.

And JBJ has had a great career (compared to 90% of MLBers); he was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, won a World Series, was ALCS MVP and will probably be in the league for more than a decade (maxing out his pension) and according to baseball-ref, he's made over $44million in his career. Not to mention winning the College World Series and the College World Series Most Outstanding Player. You take all of those accomplishments and translate them into any other field and that person isn't a star, he's a super star.

So I think Nomar can stay. And to make the rules more clear, no Hall of Famers allowed.