Three players named to Sox's Hall of Fame
Brunansky's catch to clinch AL East title selected as moment
BOSTON -- Three players representing three different eras and one memorable manager have been named the newest members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Center fielder Jimmy Piersall, who is now 80, played for the Sox from 1950-58. He excited fans with his speed, glove and arm, but also battled through mental health issues.
"One of my greatest thrills was putting on that Red Sox uniform for the first time," said Piersall. "As a kid growing up in Waterbury, Conn., I was a big Red Sox fan. I got three hits against the White Sox in my first game. I was honored when I heard that I was elected into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. I really enjoyed my playing days in Boston and have a lot of great memories there. It's one of the greatest accomplishments of my life."
There will be a formal ceremony for the new inductees in September, details of which will be forthcoming in the near future. All proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Red Sox Foundation, the team's official charity.
Outfielder Tommy Harper, whose club stolen base record of 54 in 1973 stood until Jacoby Ellsbury broke it last year, has also been elected.
"In 1973, I got off to one of the worst starts of my career," Harper said. "I was in a slump for about a month and a half. [Manager] Eddie Kasko used to call me T-Bone -- he came up to me and said, 'Hey, T-Bone. I gotta take you out of the lineup.' So I didn't steal much during the first part of the season.
"I practically played myself out of the lineup. Then, in June or July, Reggie Smith got hurt and he had to put me back in. From that point on, I found a swing I liked in batting practice, something clicked and I was on fire. I ended up winning the Red Sox MVP award that season."
And from a more recent time, shortstop/third baseman John Valentin, who played on three Red Sox postseason teams in the 1990s, rounds out the trio of players. Valentin belted three homers in a game in 1995, turned an unassisted triple play in '97 and played a crucial role in Boston's American League Division Series comeback from an 0-2 deficit to the Indians in '99.
"It is an unbelievable honor to be recognized [in the Red Sox Hall of Fame]," Valentin said. "It meant so much to me, because I was a part of the Red Sox organization for so long. To be included with all those great players made it all feel worthwhile."
Don Zimmer, a well-known baseball lifer, has been elected as a manager-coach. Zimmer managed some memorable Red Sox teams from 1976-80, topping 95 wins twice and winning 91 games in another season.
"I managed in San Diego before Boston, and as a manager in Boston, you learn pretty quickly that you have to be thick-skinned," said Zimmer. "Boston has knowledgeable fans and they're fanatic about the Red Sox. If the club's losing, they'll let you know. You get a real education coaching and managing at Fenway Park. When Dick Bresciani, [head of the Red Sox Hall of Fame voting committee], called me and told me I was in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, it was a total surprise and a great honor. As much as I took as a manager there, I love Boston and have many great memories from my days there."
All four men were selected by a 14-person panel.
Kasko, who served as a manager and scout as well as in some other capacities, was chosen as the non-uniformed inductee of this year's class.
"Getting elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame is unbelievable," said Kasko. "I had a lot of time with the Red Sox, but all different jobs -- from player to front office executive. When I got the call, I was flabbergasted. It's a great honor."
Tom Brunansky's diving catch in the right-field corner that clinched the AL East title in 1990 has been selected as a Great Moment in Red Sox history.
"I'm a West Coast guy and if you've never played for the Red Sox, you'll never really understand what a baseball fan is," said Brunansky. "With all the history in Boston, it's an honor to have even a small part of my career included in the Red Sox Hall of Fame."
"On behalf of our entire ownership and organization, I would like to congratulate the stellar Red Sox Hall of Fame Class of 2010," said Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry. "This year's class represents some of the very best talent to grace our field and our front office, and represents a broad expanse of Red Sox history spanning from the 1950s until the end of the 20th century.
"Tommy Harper, Jimmy Piersall, John Valentin, Don Zimmer and Eddie Kasko, along with Tom Brunansky's memorable catch on that October night in 1990, have all rightfully earned the ballclub's highest recognition. I join with all of Red Sox Nation in saluting these six remarkable men for their contributions to the glory and tradition of the Boston Red Sox."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.