Local hero is still pitching in
Catching up with Bill Monbouquette
ONEONTA, NY - He pitched a no-hitter for Boston in 1962, and is a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Medford native Bill Monbouquette signed with Boston as an amateur free agent in 1955. He made his big league debut with the Sox on July 18, 1958.
He pitched with a bulldog mentality and he wouldn't back down from anyone. That was evident right from the start.
"I got there when I was 21 years old and it was the greatest experience I've ever had," said Monbouquette." (My big league debut) was against the Tigers and I remember Billy Martin stole home on me," he said.
"The next time up I unloaded on him and he popped right up. I had heard stories about him and they said you better be ready because he might pop you one. I just stood there, and he headed back. When he went by me he said 'You owed me one Rook.' That was the start."
The Red Sox discovered just how tough Monbouquette was before he even put on the uniform.
"The day I signed (with the Red Sox) my mom and dad were there. Afterwards they put us in the right field grandstands and there were two drunks behind us who spilled their booze on my mother," he said.
"I turned and said I don't appreciate the language and now you spilled your beer -- no more. They said what are you going to do about it. I looked at my father, he nodded, and we sure did a job on them. They put us in a holding cell and put us in cuffs. They had to call Johnny Murphy, the Farm Director at the time."
Monbouquette's bulldog mentality spanned eight seasons (1958-65) with Boston. He compiled a 96-91 record with a 3.69 ERA. 77 of his 254 games were complete game efforts.
His biggest highlight came during the 1962 season when he pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.
"That was the biggest thrill I ever had," said Monbouquette. "That was something very special because I hadn't won a game in close to two months. I was struggling."
It's only fitting that one of the Red Sox greatest pitchers is now teaching pitching. Monbouquette is the Pitching Coach for the Oneonta Tigers, the Detroit Tigers Single A affiliate in the New York-Penn League.
"I remember when I was at the same stage these kids are and it was a lot of fun," said Monbouquette. "It's a lot of work, but that goes with the territory. The thing I try to stress is that Rome was't built in one day. It will take time, but all of sudden the stuff we are trying to teach them will sink in.
Monbouquette took over as Pitching Coach of Oneonta five years ago after he was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Tigers didn't have any big league jobs, but Monbouquette wanted to work in the Minor Leagues with the younger players. The Tigers offered him the Oneonta job and he accepted.
"It's wonderful and I look forward everyday going to the park," said Monbouquette. "I like to see that little gleam in their eyes because I had it. You can get the big leagues awfully fast today. There are more clubs and more opportunities."
Although Monbouquette works in Oneonta, he still lives in Medford with his wife Josephine. The two married last November after meeting at Monbouquette's 40th high school reunion.
In the off-season, Monbouquette enjoys working out at Tufts University and spending time at his Maine townhouse.
"Tufts has been very good to me," said Monbouquette. "I keep busy. I own a townhouse up in Saddleback Mountain in Maine, which is very beautiful. I spend as much time as I can there."
During his playing days, Monbouquette was a four-time All Star. He started the 1960 All Star game for the American League. His best season came in 1963, when he went 20-10 with a 3.81 ERA.
Monbouquette's playing days with Boston came to an end in 1965 when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for George Smith and George Thomas. He played three more seasons with the Tigers (1966-67), New York Yankees (1967-68) and San Francisco Giants (1968) before retiring.
"I knew it was a business," said Monbouquette of the trade. "I had struggled the last couple years and was coming off a 10-18 season. I thanked them (Red Sox) and told them I enjoyed my stay here. They were always good to me."
Monbouquette finished his 11-year career with a 114-112 record and a 3.68 ERA. It was his stay in Boston, however, where he had his most success.
"Those were my most enjoyable years," said Monbouquette. "I loved pitching at Fenway and loved pitching for the Red Sox.