Monday, January 12, 2009

Rice Capades

Most Red Sox fans are happy for Jim Rice that he finally received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sitting in the bleachers for Game 1 of the 1975 series, I wondered what it would have been like if the Sox had Rice, who was down after a fractured wrist. My fading memory prevents me from remembering who hit him...I think it was a forgettable Tiger pitcher.

My memories of Rice aren't many but a few stand out. First, I remember a rocket just to the right of the original flagpole in left center, clearing the back wall. It wasn't a towering Harmon Killebrew backspin fly ball that keeps on going. It was milk...screaming. Second, I remember Joe Morgan pinch-hitting Spike Owen for Rice. Third, although he was no defensive marvel, Rice worked hard to become a competent left-fielder, and excelled at playing the wall. I recall Mike Lynch saying how it was hard to criticize a player whom he saw working hard and regularly to excel.

Rice may have seemed like a surly star who wasn't much of an interview. Was that really his persona, or was he simply "Batman" who neither sought nor received the limelight, doing his job the way he saw fit because that was his destiny?

Congratulations to Jim Rice, a career Red Sox whose cap won't be a question when he goes to Cooperstown in July.

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