BOSTON -- The Red Sox honored the newest members of their Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony on Thursday at Westin Copley Place in Boston.The 2018 class, which was announced last November, includes four former players, all of whom were key contributors on Red Sox championship teams.The late John
BOSTON -- The Red Sox honored the newest members of their Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony on Thursday at Westin Copley Place in Boston.
The 2018 class, which was announced last November, includes four former players, all of whom were key contributors on Red Sox championship teams.
The late John "Buck" Freeman, who passed away in 1949, was one of the franchise's earliest stars as a slugging outfielder and first baseman from 1901-1907. In 1903 he led the Major Leagues in home runs (13) and RBIs (104) while helping the club, then known as the Americans, win MLB's inaugural Fall Classic against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Derek Lowe, who worked as both a starter and reliever with the Red Sox from 1997-2004, played a pivotal role during the team's historic 2004 championship run. He was the winning pitcher in the final game of the American League Division Series, AL Championship Series and World Series, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to win three series-clinching games in the same postseason. A two-time All-Star with Boston, Lowe led the AL in saves in 2000 before moving to the rotation in 2002, when he tossed the 16th no-hitter in team history and finished third in the AL Cy Young race with a 21-8 record and 2.58 ERA.
Kevin Youkilis, who debuted with the Red Sox in 2004, played first base and third base until he was traded in 2012. Known for his unorthodox batting stance, "Youk" was a reliable fielder and an on-base machine, leading Boston with a .392 OBP from 2006-2011 and ranking first in club history in hit-by-pitches. In addition to making three All-Star teams, Youkilis won a Gold Glove in 2007 and received the AL Hank Aaron Award in 2008, when he finished third in the AL MVP balloting. He also starred in the postseason, slashing .306/.376/.568 in 29 playoff games and winning World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
"Youk was very prepared, he had a specific game plan," remembered fellow honoree Mike Lowell. "We were jealous of the fact that he could be so disciplined in his approach. ... As a team, you appreciate a guy who comes every day ready to play."
Lowell, the team's third baseman from 2006-2010, was the 2007 World Series MVP after hitting .400/.500/.800 during Boston's four-game sweep of the Rockies. He was an All-Star in 2007, when he finoshed fifth in the AL MVP voting after batting .324/.378/.501 with 21 home runs and 120 RBIs. A Gold Glover with the Marlins before being traded to the Red Sox along with Josh Beckett, Lowell has the highest fielding percentage (.972) at the hot corner in franchise history.
Al Green, a Fenway Park usher since 1973, was inducted in recognition of his 45 years of service to the team and its fans. Arthur D'Angelo, the owner of Twins Enterprises, The Souvenir Store on Jersey Street and founder of '47 Brand, is the first "Special Achievement" inductee.
The ceremony gave the former players a chance to reminisce about teammates and their favorite memories. Lowe recalled his ALCS Game 7 victory against the Yankees in 2004, when Boston became the first team in MLB history to win a best-of-seven playoff series after losing the first three games. Lowell's top highlights were from 2007, when he was one of four players to homer in consecutive at-bats against the Yankees on April 22 at Fenway Park, and made the last out of the World Series six months later. Youkilis enjoyed the team's hard-fought ALCS matches in 2004, 2007 and 2008, all of which went seven games.
"The World Series were fun because we swept, but the [Championship Series] were a grind and a battle," Youkilis said. "The Game 7's, that's what you play for."
Something they all agreed on; Manny Ramirez was one of the greatest hitters they ever saw.
"I've never seen anyone handle every pitch with authority like Manny did," said Lowell. "He and Jose Cabrera are the two best hitters I've ever played with."
"Manny was unbelieveable," added Youkilis. "He was the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen."
The trio also reflected on the challenges and rewards of playing in Boston, from early-season snow to passionate fans and media. Although they admitted that playing in Boston could be tough, they appreciated the city's dedication and believe it elevated their game.
"The greatest part about playing in Boston is accountability," said Youkilis. "The fans always hold you accountable, so you have to hold yourself accountable, too."
Each player was proud to be recognized alongside their former teammates as well as the great players of Red Sox past, from Cy Young and Ted Williams to Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski.
"It's very special. When I got the call, I was very honored and very happy," said Lowell. "To say you can be part of that group is very humbling."
Youkilis agreed, adding, "This is really an amazing experience. I never thought this day would come. I just played the game every day as hard as I could."
Tyler Maher is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.