Red Sox

4 things to know about Tommy Pham, newest Red Sox outfielder

Pham has had a fascinating career in Major League Baseball.

Tommy Pham
On Monday, the Red Sox acquired Tommy Pham from the Reds. AP Photo/Jeff Dean

The Red Sox acquired Reds outfielder Tommy Pham on Monday in exchange for a player to be named later.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news. The Red Sox later sent out a press release announcing the move, noting that Pham is batting .238 this season with 11 home runs and 39 RBI in 91 games. Per the team, Pham ranks third among left fielders with seven outfield assists and has had plenty of success against left-handed pitchers.

Here are four things to know about the hard-nosed new Red Sox outfielder.

He credits his tough upbringing for molding his work ethic.

In a fascinating Sports Illustrated feature from 2018, Pham discussed his childhood growing up near Las Vegas. His father was in prison for much of Pham’s life — a talented football player who got caught up in drugs and a criminal lifestyle. Pham eventually stopped visiting him in prison. His mother worked a variety of jobs and made a strict schedule for her children that included no downtime and required good grades. In a particularly poignant anecdote, Pham said he would practice defense by throwing a baseball off a brick wall and fielding it himself.


When he turned 12, Pham told the Tampa Bay Times that his mother sat him down for a conversation about statistics, which dictated that since his father was in prison, he was likely to end up there as well.

“So, she goes, ‘what are you going to do about it?’” Pham said.

Per Spotrac, Pham has now earned nearly $24 million playing baseball.

Pham told Sports Illustrated he wouldn’t have wanted a more well-to-do childhood, since he believes his hardships shaped him as a man and player.

“I played with a lot of guys coming up who came from a wealthy upbringing and what I remembered most about them is how soft they were,” Pham relayed to Sports Illustrated’s Jack Dickey via text. “When things got harder for them, they always crumbled. I think where I came from helped me persevere through all my injuries in everything bcuz I seen a lot of guys fold.”

He has decent speed, power, and patience.

Pham looked like a rising star at various stages during his career, and while he never reached those levels, the 34-year-old has put together some solid seasons as a Major Leaguer. Baseball Savant still ranks him near the top of the league in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage, and he maintains above average sprint speed, walk percentage, and chase rate. He struggles with breaking balls (.167 this season) but has hit well against fastballs (.277) with seven of his 11 homers.


In other words, don’t expect Pham to be a star, but he could be a contributor for a team that needs depth.

He has a degenerative eye condition.

When he started in the Cardinals’ minor-league system, Pham struggled at the plate, and the team insisted he get his eyes checked. The results weren’t good: Pham has keratoconus, a rare degenerative eye condition in which the cornea changes from round to cone-shaped.

Pham found a solution in 2011, the Tampa Bay Times reported — a breakthrough procedure involving vitamins and ultraviolet light that stabilized his condition, combined with contacts that gave him 20-15 vision.

He has made headlines for a variety of reasons.

At this point, Pham is probably best known for slapping Joc Pederson over a disagreement regarding fantasy football. Pederson gave an incredibly detailed accounting of what happened in postgame interviews, outlining how he antagonized Pham by making fun of the Padres (Pederson says he was friends with other Padres players in the groupchat) and how Pham took what Pederson claims were light-hearted jokes.

That led to this altercation in May, which drew a suspension for Pham.

Pham later called the interaction “a matter of principle” and said he had no regrets.

In April, Pham criticized and offered to fight former teammate Luke Voit for a collision at home plate with Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson.


“If Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well,” Pham said. “Anything — Muay Thai, whatever. I’ve got a [gym] owner here who will let me use his facility. So, f— ’em.”

Pham was also stabbed during a fight outside a strip club in 2020. Video later showed a gruesome gash all the way along his back, which Pham said needed 200 stitches to close.

Pham might be many things, but he certainly isn’t a boring person.


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