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The Sox' long history

Here are some monster numbers

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

Almost everything you always wanted to know about Red Sox sluggers but were afraid to ask:

- Only 13 times since Fenway Park opened in 1912 has a Red Sox player led the league in home runs. The last was Tony Armas (43) in 1984. Ted Williams led the league four times, but since The Kid's last title in 1949, only five Sox -- Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Armas -- have done so.

- There have been 50 occasions in which a major league player hit 45 or more home runs. But it's been done only twice by a Red Sox player: Jimmie Foxx hit 50 in 1938, Rice 46 in 1978.

- Rice says the Green Monster cost him 10 home runs a season, maybe 20. ``Those are the number of line drives that I hit that went off the Wall and would have been home runs in other parks,'' Rice said. ``I don't remember the Wall giving me any.''

Rice played 15 full seasons for the Sox and hit 382 home runs. Give him another 10 a year, 150 in all, and he would have 532, which would end any debate about whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Give him 20 more a year, or 300, and he'd rank third on the career liast.

- Foxx, who hit a career-high 58 home runs for the Philadelphia A's in 1932, was sold to the Red Sox by Connie Mack for $150,000 in December 1935.,The year he hit 50 for the Sox, 35 came in Fenway Park. The prototype Fenway hitter? Maybe, maybe not. Of the other 172 home runs Foxx hit for the Red Sox, 91 came at home, 81 on the road.

``He was strong as a bull,'' teammate Doc Cramer recounted to Peter Golenbock, author of ``Fenway: An Unexpurgated History of the Boston Red Sox.'' ``He'd take a hold of your leg right there and put the whole prints of his fingers right in it.''

Another teammate, Tony Lupien, recalled how Foxx would explain the source of his strength: ``He'd say, `Milking cows and painting the barn.' He'd say, `What do you do when you milk cows? You develop the wrists and the forearms. When you paint the house, it's like slapping the ball.' ''

- Fenway Park ranks fourth among major league parks in the number of home runs hit (9,255), behind Tiger Stadium (10,878), Wrigley Field (9,836), and Yankee Stadium (9,372). Tiger Stadium, which will be replaced after this season, opened the same year as Fenway, 1912. Wrigley Field opened two years later. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, spotting Fenway 11 years, but the Bombers had guys named Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, and Jackson over the years.

- In 1968, Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli hit 12 home runs. Thefollowing season, he hit a career-best 40, including 22 at Fenway. In his career, Petrocelli hit nearly twice as many home runs in Fenway (134) as he did on the road (76); he is often cited as the leading beneficiary of the short left-field wall.

Petrocelli doesn't dispute that his swing was made for the Wall, but says it was no accident. ``My swing was short, quick, and pull,'' he said. ``If you were the type of power hitter who hit the ball high, like a [Harmon] Killebrew type, it was a tremendous advantage.

``But I worked at getting the right stroke, where I was pulling the ball. They tried to make me a switch hitter, that didn't work, so I worked on hitting the ball only to straight center field and left field. We almost eliminated right field. Maybe it just happened accidentally, but I started to develop a little uppercut swing, and if you hit it high enough, it would go out.

``The righthanded power hitters of the past all pulled everything. If they swung at an outside pitch, they popped it up. But then Rice and some other guys, who were strong enough, realized they could drive the ball the other way and still hit home runs.

``Nomar [Garciaparra], the way he hits, Fenway doesn't hurt him at all. He doesn't try to pull everything, and he has the power to hit line drives out to all fields. If he tried to pull the ball, he'd bat 20 to 25 points less and have fewer home runs.

``I'm sure Ted Williams told him, `Don't change your swing.' ''

- Hugh Bradley of the Red Sox hit the first home run in Fenway, on April 26, 1912, six days after the park opened. A fluke? You might say so. It was Bradley's only home run in Fenway, and the second of the two he hit in his career.

- The top five home run hitters in Red Sox history: Williams (521), Yastrzemski (452), Rice (382), Evans (379), Bobby Doerr (223).

- Carlton Fisk, with 351, hit more runs than any other catcher in history, but he hit only 162 (less than half) of his total 376 home runs with the Red Sox; 90 of his home runs with Boston came in Fenway Park.

- Last May, Lou Merloni duplicated Tony Conigliaro's feat of being a local lad who homered in his first Fenway Park at-bat.

- Garciaparra holds the team record for leadoff home runs in a season with 7. Garciaparra may never catch Dom DiMaggio, the career leader with 9, because he's batting cleanup now and is unlikely to return to being a top-of-the-order guy.

- The only home run recognized by any kind of marker in Fenway Park is the 502-foot blast Williams hit off Detroit pitcher Fred Hutchinson on June 9, 1946. The ball landed on the head of Joseph A. Boucher, 56, a construction engineer from Albany, N.Y., who was sitting in Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21 in the bleachers. Boucher, who was wearing a straw hat, said the sun was shining directly in his eyes. ``All we could do was duck,'' he said. ``I'm glad I didn't stand up. They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head, I was no longer interested.'' That spot is marked by a red seat in the green bleachers.

- The Yaz-Tony C-Petrocelli-Hawk Harrelson Red Sox teams of 1965-70 led the American League in home runs four times, and the Rice-Evans-Fisk-Lynn-Yaz teams of the late '70s led the league three times.

- Evans and Rice, teammates from 1974-89, homered in the same game 56 times. Doerr and Williams are second in team history at 38 times.

- Dick Stuart hit 75 home runs over two seasons with the Red Sox (1963 and '64), which made him so popular that he had his own radio show, broadcast from the dining room of the tony Kenmore Hotel, where visiting clubs used to stay.

Stuart delighted in tormenting manager Johnny Pesky, flouting rules at every opportunity. Dick Radatz tells a story of how Pesky ordered Stuart to bunt and Stuart, ignoring the sign, swung away and struck out.

``Pesky told him, `You big SOB, I put the bunt on three times and you disregarded it. It's going to cost you,' '' Radatz said.

``Stuart said, `Let me tell you something, Needle. I get paid to do one thing on this ball club, and I do it very well, and that's hit the ball out of the ballpark. Don't you ever give me the bunt sign again as long as you live.'

``I don't know what was said after that. Stuart was way out of bounds, but the way he said it . . . that was Dick Stuart.''

- Jackie Jensen holds the Sox record for home runs in a month with 14, in June 1958. Jensen finished with a career-best 35 home runs that season.

- Conigliaro holds the major league record for home runs by a teenager with 24, five more than Mel Ott, eight more than Junior Griffey, and 11 more than Mickey Mantle. He's also the youngest player in American League history to hit 100 home runs (22 years and 197 days, only 35 days older than National Leaguer Ott).

- The only Sox player to hit 40 home runs in a season since Armas hit 43 in 1984 was Mo Vaughn, who did it twice: 44 in '96, 40 last season. And we all know what happened to him.

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