Like father, like sons
Catching up with Carney Lansford
Wade Boggs was not the only Boston Red Sox third baseman to win a batting title in the 1980s.
Carney Lansford may have only played two seasons with the Red Sox (1981-82), but he made the most of them, winning the 1981 American League batting title with a career-high .336 average.
"My wife and I enjoyed the two years we were there," Lansford said recently. "It was a great place to play. There is no better place to be than Boston."
Lansford developed a reputation for being an excellent contact hitter and putting the ball in play. In fact, in 1981 he finished second in the majors in singles with 104.
"I owe a lot to (former Sox hitting coach) Walt Hriniak for teaching me about hitting," Lansford said. "I had a tough year the previous year with the Angels in 1980 and then the first year in Boston to win a batting title was due to a tremendous amount of hard work. He (Hriniak) taught me how to stay inside the ball and cut down on my strikeouts putting the ball in play more often and it paid off."
These days, the 48-year-old Lansford resides in Santa Clara, Calif., with his wife, Debbie, and two sons.
"I was born and raised in Santa Clara and that's where I live right now," Lansford said. "We actually lived in Oregon for about 20 years, but when my oldest boy started high school we moved back here for them to get better coaching and play against better competition."
Baseball is definitely in the Lansford family blood. Both his sons, Josh and Jared, are outstanding baseball players. His oldest son Josh plays for San Jose State and his youngest son was just drafted in the second round by the Oakland A's.
"They have worked extremely hard and are dedicated," Lansford said of his two sons. "I am very proud of them. Their dream (is to play in the major leagues) and if that's what they want to do then as parents we are 100 percent behind them. We will help them every way possible, but it has to be their dream and that's what they seem to want to do. We try and support them."
Lansford coaches his kids as much as he can, and stopped coaching at the major league level (he was bench coach under Tony La Russa in St. Louis in 1997 and 1998) to dedicate time for his two boys.
"I stopped coaching at the major level to dedicate six years coaching my kids and getting them through high school," Lansford said. "When you get the opportunity to spend those years with them you just treasure them. I feel blessed that I had a profession where I was able to do this.
"My two boys are playing constantly and in California you play year round. The last couple of summers I have coached my youngest boy's summer league team and helped out at the high school. It's been non-stop."
Lansford played 15 seasons in the majors, 10 of them with the Oakland A's (1983-92), where he won a World Series (1989). Prior to joining Boston, Lansford played three seasons with the California Angels (1987-80). He finished his career with a .290 average and had more than 2,000 hits (2,074) and more than 1,000 runs scored (1,007).
"If you would have told me at the beginning when I started my major league career I would be able to achieve the things that I did and stay around for 15 years I don't know if I would have really believed it," Lansford said. "I wouldn't change anything I did."
He may have only played two seasons with the Red Sox, but Lansford was happy to see them win the whole thing last October, even though it came against his former manager La Russa.
"It's what everyone talked about the fact that they hadn't won forever," Lansford said. "I also coached in St. Louis for Tony and played for him for seven or eight years and unfortunately it was at the expense of Tony. But, it was nice to see the Sox get that monkey off their back."