The 1943 Red Sox lost several players to military service in World War II and the team's record dropped well below the .500 mark. Among the departed players was the team's star, Ted Williams, though he did appear at the ballpark in 1943 as a member of Babe Ruth's Service All-Stars. During the season, a succession of four Negro League games were played at Fenway Park and a week-long circus took place at the park in late August.
Record: 68-84, 7th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
With World War II underway, teams made a number of adjustments due to the war effort. One such change was that instead of taking trains south, the Red Sox held their spring training at Tufts College in Medford, MA. Following their stint at Tufts, the team started their season at Fenway Park with a pair of mid-April exhibition games against local colleges: a 17-2 defeat of Boston College, and a 21-0 victory over Harvard (the Red Sox also beat the Boston Coast Guard 14-8 in a June 16 exhibition).
After the 1942 season, the Red Sox lost several players to military service - Williams, Pesky and Wagner among them. The departure of so many leading players was widespread throughout baseball and opened opportunities for others. Leading the 1943 Red Sox in batting average was 34-year-old outfielder Pete Fox, who hit .288. Jim Tabor, who would enter the military following the 1944 season, led the 1943 team with 85 RBIs.
One of the more outstanding individual accomplishments of the season was the pinch-hitting of Joe Cronin. As Player/Manager, he sent himself in to pinch-hit 42 times and hit safely in 18 of them and collected 25 RBIs. During a June 17 doubleheader, he pinch-hit and drilled a three-run homer in the first game, then did so again in the second.
Despite the weakened offense throughout the league, and a stellar ERA of 2.64, Tex Hughson went 12-15. Along with Hughson, only Oscar Judd and Dick Newsome won more than seven games. The Red Sox may have been affected by absences more than any other and they won only 68 games. They dropped to seventh place in the league, the lowest they had finished since 1933.
In 1943, Fenway Park held a series of four games between the Fore River Shipyard All-Stars of Quincy, MA and a succession of Negro League teams: the New York Black Yankees, Cuban All-Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, and Birmingham Black Barons. As part of the July 12 Mayor's Field Day at Fenway Park, Babe Ruth's team of Service All-Stars defeated the Boston Braves by a 9-8 margin. Ruth's team of All-Stars included Red Sox stars Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, who both figured prominently in the proceedings.
|1943 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|June 18||Fore River Shipyard 5, New York Black Yankees 4|
|July 9||Fore River Shipyard 3, New York Cuban Stars 0|
|July 12||Mayor's Charity Field Day: Boston Braves vs. Babe Ruth's All-Stars*|
|August 12||Kansas City Monarchs 4, Fore River Shipyard 1|
|September 2||Birmingham Black Barons 2, Fore River Shipyard 2|
*For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.
The Fenway Park crowd cheered on Red Sox stars Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, who were both serving in the Navy at the time, as they took on the Boston Braves. In this game, however, the duo was playing for Babe Ruth's Service All-Stars rather than the familiar Red Sox. The Boston Daily Record's Joe Cashman wrote of the game:
"Ted the Kid parked one high in the centerfield seats, in the shadow of the flag pole 420 feet away. That settled everything. Professor Dom tripled and singled. He threw out a daring baserunner. He streaked to the center field wall and pulled down a drive. Just two of them -Teddy Williams and Dom DiMaggio - were all the Service All Stars needed to beat the Braves in a Mayor's Field Day game witnessed by some 16,000 at the fens yesterday." (Boston Daily Record, July 13, 1943)
Boston College's football team played and won three games at Fenway Park in 1943, beating their opponents by an average margin of more than 43 points. On July 28, a World War II Relief Fund Program show took place between games of a Red Sox doubleheader against the Tigers. As part of the show, bands from the Port of Embarkation Army and the Coast Guard performed. The show also included a parade and a variety of athletic contests featuring the ballplayers. Later in the summer, Fenway Park hosted a week-long, three-ring circus held as a benefit for the Five Sullivan Brothers Shrine.
|1943 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|May 23||War Memorial Service*|
|July 12||Mayor's Charity Field Day**|
|July 28||Fenway Park Relief Fund Program Show|
|August 23-29||Three-Ring Circus Benefit|
|October 24||Boston College 42, Camp Hingham (MA) 6 (Football)|
|October 31||Boston College 37, Brooklyn College 6 (Football)|
|November 7||Boston College 64, Rome Army Air Base Station (Rome, NY) 0 (Football)|
|November 21||Holy Cross 41, Tufts College 0|
*Started in the 1910s, a late May memorial service coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend was often held at Fenway Park through the mid-20th Century.
**For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.