Ted, Yaz and Jim — Left field trio for ages
Finally, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame. And finally, the holy trinity of Red Sox left fielders is truly complete.
Think about this. Three Hall of Fame left fielders who played their entire career with one team, one succeeding the other. I am going to say it right now. This will never happen again.
I am now a sportswriter but when I was in my youth, growing up in the Boston area, I enjoyed the heck out of watching Jim Rice play baseball. I’ve never seen someone produce such swift bat action with their wrists. What a strong man he was. He played hard, he played hurt, and he smoked the ball, just about every day.
Yes, there were some double plays, particularly in the mid ’80s. But there were a whole lot more screaming line drives. He could also play left field. People forget this. This guy developed into a strong defensive player at Fenway Park, where he truly mastered The Wall.
Listening to him speak the last two days, it is unbelievable how relaxed and happy he has become. Jim always put up that front of insecurity, but it has been utterly gone the last two days.
I was at the game in 1982 when a little boy got nailed in the head by a Dave Stapleton line drive. The kid was bleeding and fans were in stunned silence, not knowing quite what to do. Jim Rice never flinched. He hopped out of the dugout, reached into the stands to grab the kid and got him into the clubhouse immediately to get looked at by the doctors. A young Theo Epstein was also at this game, and referred to it yesterday. I hadn’t thought about that moment in years, but when Theo mentioned it, the memories immediately flooded back of Rice so heroically handling the situation.
Now, he is a Hall of Famer, and for those who watched him every day for most of his career, it is nice to see.
I’m looking forward to the night when No. 14 goes on the right-field facade next year. Hopefully they can do some re-arranging with the numbers so the sequence is 9, 8 and 14.