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With the Red Sox seeming to lay the groundwork to trade Mookie Betts over the winter, here’s a question: Which departure or free-agent loss from the Red Sox over the years bothered you the most? I’m still mad they low-balled Jon Lester in 2014 and eventually let him get to the Cubs. – Ron J.
There were a few when I was a kid that really hit me hard. I couldn’t understand after the 1978 season why the Red Sox would let Luis Tiant leave, let alone join the Yankees. That cut the heart of the Sox in a lot of ways. It was just my first year as a fan, but I learned pretty fast that it was a business.
But the stretch after the 1980 season really hurt. It actually made me root for the Angels for a while. Check out these transactions:
Dec. 10, 1980: Red Sox trade SS Rick Burleson and 3B Butch Hobson to the Angels for 3B Carney Lansford, CF Rick Miller, and RP Mark Clear.
Jan. 23, 1981: Red Sox trade CF Fred Lynn and SP Steve Renko to the Angels for SP Frank Tanana, LF-1B Joe Rudi, and P Jim Dorsey.
March 18, 1981: C Carlton Fisk signs with the White Sox.
Now, my three favorite players as a kid, in order, were Hobson, Lynn and Fisk. Within three months, and some horribly cheap and inept management by Haywood Sullivan, they were all gone. The Hobson/Burleson deal wasn’t terrible – Lansford won the most forgettable batting title in Sox history in ’81, and later brought Tony Armas in a trade with the A’s – but damn did these deals hurt as a young fan.
The toughest one was probably losing Fisk, because he was a local guy and a World Series hero (if you can be one in defeat) who should have been a Red Sox player for life. Had they issued him a contract offer on time, who knows how history would have panned out. We probably never would have become familiar with the work of Gary Allenson.
There’s a young generation of Sox fans right now who will feel the same way if Mookie goes this offseason.
Other candidates: Roger Clemens leaving for the Jays after the ’96 season (but he re-dedicated himself out of spite for Dan Duquette); Mo Vaughn leaving for the Angels (turned out to be a good decision, though the plan to sign Bernie Williams fell apart); losing Adrian Beltre as a free agent (though it was understandable to a degree, with Kevin Youkilis here and Adrian Gonzalez on his way).
But what does everyone else think? Which Red Sox trade or free agent loss hit you the hardest? I’ll hear you in the comments.