Red Sox player that you cared most about

h8mfy

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Jul 15, 2005
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Roger LaFrancois. He made the opening day roster in 1982, spent the entire season with the Sox, and yet only appeared in eight games with ten at bats. If I didn't see a game on Channel 38, or listen to it on the radio, one of the first things I did the next morning that summer was to check the boxscore just to see if he got in.
Reading all these old names is great, but this post flashed me right back to standing at the fence near the on-deck circle at Eldridge Park and seeing him getting ready to hit for the Cardinals and then seeing him in town a few days later getting ice cream or whatever. I was so excited when he was drafted, he seemed to my young (catcher wannabe) self like a god.

I was a huge Cecil Cooper fan, largely on the basis of his being the only Sox willing to sign autographs after the Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown, which I was lucky enough to get to see. He opened his window on the bus and patiently signed for a lot of us gathered kids. I was crushed when he was traded and he was one of the few guys I rooted for on other teams.
 

oumbi

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Jun 15, 2006
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From long ago, Dwight Evans.

From between long ago and recently, Tim Wakefield.

From more recently, Steve Wright.

Now, Bobby Dalbec.

On the last three it is a case of rooting for an underdog/under appreciated player to overcome the odds and be a success.
 

kelpapa

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Feb 15, 2010
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I was a big Doug Mirabelli fan. He used a softball catcher’s mitt and that time he made it from Logan to Fenway in like 17 minutes with a police escort while changing in the back of an SUV was just absurd. Who does that for a backup catcher? The Red Sox do when the Yankees are in town and Wakefield is starting and Josh Bard was just traded because he can’t catch the knuckleball. Wasn’t there a fanfic story posted here about him taking cuts in the mirror or something, possibly while naked?
No fanfic. It was real.
 

Remagellan

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When I was a kid, Luis Tiant and Fred Lynn.

Then Nomar. I had several Nomar figures on my desk, including one of him in his minor league uniform (Trenton Thunder). Also John Valentin, because of mutual North Jersey connections.

More recently, JBJ. I was and remain (now that he's back) Linus in the pumpkin patch waiting for him to put it all together at the plate. But regardless of whether that happens or not, I'd rather watch him make a play on a ball in flight than any player in baseball in my lifetime. (I'm too young to remember Mays in his prime.)
 

taxmancometh

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Wade Boggs. I just loved watching him hit and get on base. When I couldn't watch a game, I'd always check the box score first thing in the morning to see how many times he got on base the night before.
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

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Wade Boggs. I just loved watching him hit and get on base. When I couldn't watch a game, I'd always check the box score first thing in the morning to see how many times he got on base the night before.
I was about to post almost exactly the same thing about Wade Boggs. His at-bats were must see TV. If I didn't see or listen to a game, the first thing I would check in the newspaper every morning was how many hits Boggs had. And then whether or not I saw the game, I would check the league leaders in batting average, always keeping track if Boggs was in the lead or whether he was getting close to a .400 BA.
 

EdRalphRomero

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Jeff Sellers, and Rob Woodward. (honorable mention to the quickly traded Mike Brown). Fell in love with those guys in that magical summer of 86. I really didn’t know anything about baseball yet (other than I couldn’t hit one) and those guys were the saviors from the minors and the future aces of the Sox. Every start in 87 and 88 for Woodward or Sellers was a combo of me waiting for them to become the next Clemens and being terrified that this was the end of the rope.
 

E5 Yaz

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Varitek. My captain. Without him for all those years, I don't think our pitching staff could have pitched better. I don't think anyone could say a bad word about him.
One of the things I appreciated about Ted was that when the team was comfortably ahead and he was up with a two-out, none-on situation, he'd basically give up the at-bat so that he could get back out on defense. A few scattered hits weren't going to matter to his overall stats.

And, of course, the fastest home run trots ever
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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LaFrancois has to be the only player in major league history to spend an entire season on a roster and hit .400 with no strike outs.

What was the logic, there? Why use a roster spot on a guy who never played?
 

WheresDewey

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Nov 18, 2007
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As a kid, it was Dewey. I also loved Burleson and Tiant.

Later on, I loved Burks and Greenwell. I always thought Greenwell would be a star. Burks was probably shorted from the Hall by injuries, certainly not by talent.

In more modern times, JBJ and Devers.
 

Reverse Curve

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Sep 11, 2021
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Great question...! Apologies up front for a 'short' list, but in general order...
Bernie Carbo - I think it was a Sport magazine article back in the mid 70's that stirred this (then) mid-teen's awe for the Buffalo Heads.
Jackie Bradley Jr - Loved this kid from day one.
Rick Miller - My first in person autograph, after pulling over outside the player's exit at Fenway and signing for twenty minutes or so.
Kevin Youkilis - Can't wait to head out to Los Gatos and have a beer flight. Still have a Youk t-shirt in my drawer.
Bronson Arroyo - Died a bit when he was shipped out for WMP.
Luis Tiant - Will never forget his father in the stands back in the '75 series (thanks Castro?). I see him occasionally at the Wells, ME Hannafords of all places.
 

patinorange

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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.
Malzone was my non HOF guy on my first Red Sox team in 1962. I loved everyone on that team.
 
Feb 19, 2015
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Jerry Remy.
I figured I would be the only one to name Remy. He meant everything to me as a kid. I remember one day when he hit one of his very few home runs with the Sox running out into the yard jumping up and down to tell my dad the news. IIRC it was also replayed the following weekend on This Week In Baseball, which thrilled me.
 

MuzzyField

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Fred Lynn.

No cable, yet, so 1975 9-year-old me was limited to listening to Sox games on the radio via WTIC and following box scores via the daily Waterbury newspapers, Sunday Globe, and Sporting News.

The radio calls of that season were epic and are burned into my brain thanks to the Super Sox of '75 record. The ability to play that LP is the only reason I never tossed my turntable. Hearing the calls from Ned and Jim bring immediate goosebumps. What a summer and any baseball uniform from 75 through high school.. it was number 19 please.

His trade and the departures of Fisk and Rooster changed my view of baseball (professional sports) and it wasn't for the better.

I wasn't a fan of the Cooper trade and followed him via Brewers box scores and rooted for him to rake, even against the Sox.
 

m0ckduck

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I was heavily invested in Josh Beckett from the moment he arrived, and not for the healthiest of reasons. I didn’t think he was the most lovable player to root for… but, it would eat me up when he was struggling, and then I’d feel deeply vindicated when he succeeded. It was largely because the organization staked so much in him, and it went so badly at first, and there was so much insufferable bellyaching about it and lusting after Hanley Ramirez’s stats in its wake. (I decided I disliked fantasy sports specifically because of this episode and never came back around). And then: total vindication in 2007, culminating in one of the 3 great all-time money pitching performances in franchise history (game 5 ALCS). Followed by… a whole lot of ups and downs.

Beckett was one of those players that makes baseball feel unique, in the sense that he would alternate between periods of dominance and long stretches of mediocrity without any apparent explanation. He seems strangely semi-forgotten on this board already, and his place among great Sox pitchers is hard to pin (you could have him maybe as high as #8 or not even in the top 20- ?).
 
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3BCooper

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Jun 17, 2019
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For me it's Bill Lee. What better time to be a fan than during the era he played? Bleacher seats were only $2 and went on sale the day of the game. I could schedule morning classes and walk across the fens to catch an afternoon game. He would still popup in my life long after we both moved on. At my son's high school shooting hoops on a Saturday morning. Looking like father time playing in a charity baseball game in Ft Lauderdale. Sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt and celebrating St Patrick's Day with the rest of us downtown in the Fort after the annual spring training game. Of all the players over the years the Spaceman stands out most in my mind.
 
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lexrageorge

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For me growing up it was Fred Lynn. That ride in 1975 was absolutely magical, and really enjoyed those Rice/Lynn/Yaz/Fisk lineups of the 1970's. And, when talking about the 1970's, honorable mentions to Rick Burleson and the late Jerry Remy as well. I was devastated when Lynn was traded and that team was broken up and slid into utter mediocrity.

It took a while for me to find another such player. But that player would eventually be Nomar. I really thought we were looking at the Next Great All Time Red Sox Player early in his career. Still shocked at how quickly his career fell off the cliff, but such is baseball.
 

johnnywayback

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For me, it was Jody Reed. He was an undersized, scrappy second baseman, and so was I, although I was mostly undersized because I was seven years old. Plus, I saw a clip from some pregame show of him and Bob Costas, and for some reason Jody was eating a bagel, and I ate bagels! Pretty great. I was so excited when he ranked among the league leaders in doubles ("He's not just a singles hitter!"), and crushed when he wound up being famous mostly for terrible career management.
 

ekim colorwaterpit

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I thought of another one: Wily Mo Pena. After I saw him hit some absolute bombs I kept hoping he could pull it together (I'm sure we all did), but obviously it never happened.
This was my immediate thought as well. That power was stuff to dream on. Of course he never did put it together. I'm trying to think of the pitcher version of Wily Mo, but can't think of it.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Wait…. What? How???
In 1993 Jody Reed came off a good year with the Dodgers. It wasn't great, but the Dodgers were happy with what he did and offered him a three-year $30m deal to stay with the team. (I might be wrong about the numbers and length, but it was around that.)

Reed said thanks, but no thanks and decided to become a free agent. The Dodgers were screwed, now they needed a second baseman and they targeted a good one in Montreal's Delino DeShields. Dan Duquette was the GM of the Expos and said, "Sure, you can have Delino but we want pitching, we'll take, oh I don't know, Pedro Martinez, if he's available." Dodgers GM Fred Claire was hesitant to give up Pedro (if you believe him) but Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda thought that Pedro was too small and too skinny to last and he needed a second baseman, so he shipped Pedro north.

Pedro obviously went on to star for the Expos for a few years and when he became so good that the club couldn't afford him, Duquette (who by this time was in Boston) traded for him AGAIN this time for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. (based on these two deals alone, Duquette should be in Cooperstown, but I digress ...) and the rest is Red Sox history.

But what happened to Reed, certainly he made his millions, right? Well, he jumped into the free agent pool and no one gave a shit. He floundered in the deep end all winter until Milwaukee threw him a life raft in the form of a one-year, minor league deal worth well south of the $10 million+ dollars he thought that he was worth. He bounced from the Padres to the Tigers after that and was out of baseball by 1997.

So without Jody Reed overestimating his worth, the wheels don't get set in motion for Pedro to be traded to Montreal before coming here. Because if Pedro super-novaed in LA like he did in Montreal, they had the cash to sign him and never would have sent him to the Red Sox. And who knows if we would have won it all in 2004. We may have, but it would have been less fun.
 

Leather

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Jul 18, 2005
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I just learned that same Jody Reed bit from Posnanski's new book. Fascinating.

I liked Reed while on the Sox, and he was part of the pair of fucked over Red Sox players in the 1988 awards season that added insult to injury to them losing to the A's in the ALDS.

As I thought of it then (advanced stats have changed my opinion a bit):

Greenwell should have been MVP over Canseco (in hindsight, should have been Boggs);
Reed should have been ROY over Weiss (stand by that).
 

Lose Remerswaal

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In 1993 Jody Reed came off a good year with the Dodgers. It wasn't great, but the Dodgers were happy with what he did and offered him a three-year $30m deal to stay with the team. (I might be wrong about the numbers and length, but it was around that.)

Reed said thanks, but no thanks and decided to become a free agent. The Dodgers were screwed, now they needed a second baseman and they targeted a good one in Montreal's Delino DeShields. Dan Duquette was the GM of the Expos and said, "Sure, you can have Delino but we want pitching, we'll take, oh I don't know, Pedro Martinez, if he's available." Dodgers GM Fred Claire was hesitant to give up Pedro (if you believe him) but Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda thought that Pedro was too small and too skinny to last and he needed a second baseman, so he shipped Pedro north.

Pedro obviously went on to star for the Expos for a few years and when he became so good that the club couldn't afford him, Duquette (who by this time was in Boston) traded for him AGAIN this time for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. (based on these two deals alone, Duquette should be in Cooperstown, but I digress ...) and the rest is Red Sox history.

But what happened to Reed, certainly he made his millions, right? Well, he jumped into the free agent pool and no one gave a shit. He floundered in the deep end all winter until Milwaukee threw him a life raft in the form of a one-year, minor league deal worth well south of the $10 million+ dollars he thought that he was worth. He bounced from the Padres to the Tigers after that and was out of baseball by 1997.

So without Jody Reed overestimating his worth, the wheels don't get set in motion for Pedro to be traded to Montreal before coming here. Because if Pedro super-novaed in LA like he did in Montreal, they had the cash to sign him and never would have sent him to the Red Sox. And who knows if we would have won it all in 2004. We may have, but it would have been less fun.
Awesome post. I had forgotten some of the story and it’s great to be reminded of these transactions that led to that success
 

Leather

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Jul 18, 2005
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How is that book? I'm considering buying it, but if it's the exact same stuff that he wrote last year in the Athletic, I may not.
I didn't read the Athletic stuff so it's new to me. I mean, it's very good for what it is! Lots of baseball history intermingled with anecdotes about the players. At times, as is Posnanski's way, it can verge a little too close to sentimental when he talks about players he obviously has a soft spot for (e.g. George Brett), but I'm reading 3-4 players every night before I fall asleep and enjoy it.

That said, I mostly bought it for my kid who's a big baseball nut.
 

Pat Spillane

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Feb 12, 2021
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Tony Armas and Mike Easler. Hated when both were traded . Was drawn to the homer. Was never enamored with Don Baylor the way I was with these two Seemed to root hard for Spike Owen back in the day. Tanner Houck is someone that I root for today, just love to watch him pitch
 

RIrooter09

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Jul 31, 2008
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I always rooted for Justin Masterson. A classmate of mine knew him and said he was a great kid.
 

RedOctober3829

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As a kid, it was Tom Brunansky.

High school/college aged me it was Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. Two gritty, tough guys who played the game the right way and came through in clutch playoff situations.

In recent times, I agree with JMOH and it is JBJ. I just loved watching his defensive prowess. I always believed he could put it together offensively and when he came through in the '18 ALCS it was awesome.
 

ookami7m

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Wakefield. I have owned 2 sox replica jerseys in my life - a home 33 with the C I was gifted after 2004 and a road gray Wakefield 49. I had Wake's starts almost as much of must see tv as Pedros.
 

Al Zarilla

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Jacoby Ellsbury. Always liked guys with great speed and some power (power kind of concentrated in one season for JE). Ellsbury is half Native American (Navajo) and is purported to have contributed significant money to a Navajo Relief Fund. Good looking guy (Dreamboat, various other nicknames).
 

Earthbound64

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Since Pedro is eliminated...

I followed Trot Nixon from when he was first drafted, and Beckett had an article about him. I would buy any of his minor league cards that I could find. The Baseball card shop near me knew that, and would regularly have them (and significantly overcharge me for them), because they knew I would buy them all.

It was fascinating to follow a player from draft, through the minors, to the majors, to being a World Champion.
 

chrisfont9

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Jacoby Ellsbury. Always liked guys with great speed and some power (power kind of concentrated in one season for JE). Ellsbury is half Native American (Navajo) and is purported to have contributed significant money to a Navajo Relief Fund. Good looking guy (Dreamboat, various other nicknames).
He drew some fans from the Native American community to the park here in Seattle whenever the Sox were in town. His hometown is five hours away so I'm guessing wasn't just friends and family.
 

BaseballJones

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Andrew Benintendi for me. I always thought he had star potential, and I kept waiting for it to happen with him. He's probably going to have a nice long major league career, and make gobs of money, but I don't know that he'll ever be what I expected him to be. Every day, every week, every month, every season he was here I just kept waiting for ANDREW BENINTENDI to arrive. He still might; he's only 27.
 

Max Power

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I wouldn't call him my favorite, even of that era, but I was always pulling for Mark Bellhorn. He pissed off all the dumbest fans with his strikeouts, but he was decent defensively, had some pop, and looked like a total mess. Plus he was born in Massachusetts. I'd hope he could knock one out of the park just so I didn't have to hear about Pokey for a couple days.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I don't think growing up I had one specific player that fits the intent of the thread. I just didn't fixate on particular players like that.

Probably the closest I can come up with was fairly short-lived as a Red Sox: Scott Sauerbeck. In college, I took a blow-off half-credit course called Baseball Theory taught by the varsity baseball coach. As part of it, he brought a couple alumni guest speakers in. One was Bill Doran, former MLB player who was working in the Reds system at the time. The other was Sauerbeck, who was coming off a solid rookie season with the Pirates. He hung around after the class and chatted with a few of us students for a while. It was a good time and from that point on, I kept tabs on his career. When the Sox traded for him in 2003, I was pretty stoked. Obviously it didn't work out that great, but I could never be upset about a guy I "knew" playing for the Red Sox.
 

Norm Siebern

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When I was around 9-10 years old Roger Clemens was my hero. Collected all his cards, had posters on my wall, etc. Living in California I didn't get to see him play much outside of highlights. However, whenever the Sox would come to Oakland my family would all go to every game (my dad grew up in Revere so taught me the love of the Red Sox). One series we went to Roger was pitching on Friday night. I remember all day in school being so excited and pumped. I had made a poster earlier that week of cut of pictures of Roger from old Sports Illustrated's and wrote his states and accomplishments. I was so proud of it.

We arrived at the Coliseum pretty early to watch BP and to watch Roger warm up in the pen. I had my sign and was waving it frantically while Roger was warming up in the pen. He walked right by and ignored my yells and screams (and the other people who were telling him to sign it for the kid). Maybe a minute after that, Rich Gedman came over to my dad and told us to not take it personal. Roger on pitching games is totally focused and won't sign for anyone. He asked us if we were going to be here any more games that weekend and we said we'd be here all weekend. He said he would take the poster I made (which I was hesitant to give away at first, haha) and try to get Roger to sign it over the weekend. He said he would meet us back at the same spot at the end of Sunday's game.

My dad told me not to get my hopes up but low and behold, after Sunday's game, Gedman was there and took the folded up poster out of his bag with an autograph from Roger (did Roger really sign it or did Rich just forge it, I really didn't care). He gave me the poster, signed a few balls with his name and took a pic with me. Being 10 I didn't realize how nice of a gesture this was. I was happier that I got Roger's autograph. It wasn't until I grew older (and Roger was no longer a favorite of mine) did I realize how amazing Gedman did what he did. I wish I would have been more excited to get to take a pic with a professional Red Sox player instead of just gawking at the autograph.

Fast forward 20 years and Gedman's daughter (a stud hockey player) worked for me one semester. I was able to tell her the entire story and tell her how much it meant to me and how to this day, things like what he did made me a huge baseball and Red Sox fan. She said it sounded like something her dad would do and she promised me she would give him the gratitude I probably didn't share enough when I wad 10 years old.

So, for that reason, I will say Rich Gedman is the Red Sox player I most care about. He gave a 10 year old have one of his best days and I'll always rank him as my personal favorite (even ahead of Pedro, Papi and Pedey).
This is a very cool story. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.
 

Ferm Sheller

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This was my immediate thought as well. That power was stuff to dream on. Of course he never did put it together. I'm trying to think of the pitcher version of Wily Mo, but can't think of it.
Daniel Bard?

Powerful guy with tons of raw talent, enjoyed a healthy amount of early career success, and then fell off a cliff entering (what should have been) prime years.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Jacoby Ellsbury. Always liked guys with great speed and some power (power kind of concentrated in one season for JE). Ellsbury is half Native American (Navajo) and is purported to have contributed significant money to a Navajo Relief Fund. Good looking guy (Dreamboat, various other nicknames).
Al, you’re old enough: what about Tommy Harper?
 

Minneapolis Millers

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This is actually really hard! I can’t go with guys like Lynn, because he was a superstar when healthy, or Tiant, because he was the ace of the staff (but watching him pitch was a freakin joy and marvel). In chrono order:
- Diego Segui (first time I ever heard the term Yankee killer)
- Evans
- Marty Barrett (I was at the continuation of that Pawtucket-Rochester game!)
- Wakefield (Saw him a no-no into the 8th v the Twins. Closer, 200 wins, amazing)
- Youk, although as a multiple All Star and MVP vote getter, he maybe is too good to be on this list. Still, I’d look in the box score to see how many times he walked!

If I had to pick one, Wake. Just a unique player and uniquely good person.
 

Farty Barrett

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Nov 4, 2012
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I forgot to mention Tim Naehring. My brothers and I loved routing for him.
It took him a while to establish himself in Boston. He would rake at McCoy every time we got tickets, get called up, then was back in Rhode Island. He broke out in ‘95 and we just never knew if he’d get sent down again. He hung in there and had a great career all things considered.

I really wanted Ryan Lavarnway to work out. He seemed like a great guy to root for. And showed promise
We all love local guys, but I particularly wanted Brian Rose to work out… or at least be better than Pavano

edited for clarity