Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Red Sox have had their share of memorable left-handed hitters and here are a few from my memories bank that left an impression.
A trip down memory lane for Red Sox fans with this edition being dedicated to a special group of left-handed hitters. This will not focus on the most notable lefties such as Ted Williams, Fred Lynn, or David Ortiz, but the grinders who simply had a nice bat off the bench or in the lineup. First up is the Belleville Basher Brian Daubach.
Daubach played 661 MLB games and 541 were in Boston where the left-handed DH, outfielder, first baseman hit .265 with 86 home runs. Daubach had amazing consistency for four of those season by hitting 20+ home runs each year. If you need a current player to match up with it would be Mitch Moreland.
Daubach was a classic “Dirt Dog” who also managed to send teammate Lou Merloni to the hospital as the result of an on-field fight with the Tampa Bay Rays. After that brawl, the Rays pitchers continually threw at Daubach hitting him twice in a game that saw eight Rays sent packing for bad behaviors.
Daubach took the usual route for a 17th round draft choice (Mets) by eventually going to the Marlins and then the Red Sox before ending up with the White Sox in 2005 as a free agent. Daubach finished his professional career in 2006 in the Cards farm system.
Since ending his playing days Daubach has dabbled in broadcasting, been a minor league manager, and is currently a minor league hitting coach.
Mike Carp is best remembered for his contributions to the 2013 championship team when the part-time outfielder, DH, first baseman hit .296 – a very hard .296 – in 86 games. Carp also slugged two home runs and hit .263 as a pinch-hitter and did manage to go hitless (0/8) in the playoffs. One of his pinch-hit home runs was a dramatic extra-inning grand slam against Tampa in September.
Carp bounced around several organizations in his career and came to Boston in a transaction that was barely noticed, but for that one season (2013) Carp became a central figure with some big hits. The following season it fell apart for Carp and the Red Sox with Carp requesting a trade and finally being designated. The highlight for the season was one inning of relief against the Yankees allowing five walks.
After Boston Carp did nothing with Texas (.125) and two years of minor league ball and finally being released by the Baltimore organization after signing a minor league deal.
Matt Stairs played 19 MLB seasons and appeared in 1,895 games, but only 95 for Boston in which Stairs hit .261 with a lone home run, but that was just the beginning of an excellent MLB career in which Stairs hit .262 with 265 home runs.
Stairs played for 12 MLB teams and where Stairs was outstanding as a pinch-hitter with a career .252 average and an MLB record 23 home runs as a pinch-hitter. Stairs could simply hit and when I saw Max Muncy of the Dodgers this past season he reminded me of Stairs.
Since leaving as a player Stairs has been in various media positions and served time as a hitting coach for the Padres and Phillies, but I always look at Stairs as a lost opportunity for Boston.
The great game six World Series home run by Carlton Fisk would not have been possible without Bernie Carbo hitting a pinch-hit three-run shot to get the game tied. Carbo was also part of the famous “Buffalo Heads” group of the 1975 Red Sox whose leader was Bill Lee. Just a mention of the name Lee should give some insight into just how bizarre this collection was.
Carbo stories take on the specter of being legendary including giving owner Tom Yawkey a tip when he mistakenly thought Yawkey was a clubhouse attendant. Later Yawkey became a father figure for Carbo who was disconsolate when Yawkey died. Carbo also carried around a giant stuffed gorilla named “Mighty Joe” that became a clubhouse fixture in 1975.
Carbo came to Boston as part of a blockbuster trade after the 1973 season that saw Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum sent to Cardinals for Carbo and pitcher Rick Wise. A deal that worked for both teams when Wise won 19 games in 1975 and Smith was an All-Star in 1974 and 1975.
Carbo played five of his 12 MLB seasons in Boston hitting .261 with 45 home runs. For his career, Carbo hit .264, but his Boston days would crumble when after Yawkey’s death when he called the new owners “gutless” and was soon gone, but Carbo’s career was already in shambles due to excess drug and alcohol use.
Carbo’s post-career stumbles have been well documented with his drug use and questionable behaviors, but eventually, Carbo rehabilitated himself, cleaned up, and formed the “Diamond Club Ministry.” Carbo became a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.