Filling the Void: The Freddy Ballgame Story
Having a hard time with this whole “social distancing” thing? Yeah – us too. Especially when it comes to the lack of sports. So, we here at The Turf thought we’d offer a way to help ease the pain and suffering. While we may not have any of the current sports leagues to watch live, there is PLENTY of archive footage available at our fingertips. We’ve scoured the internet and assembled some of the most iconic, noteworthy and remarkable sporting events we could find. We also found some mundane, run of the mill matches and contests, that seemed banal at first watch. However, at this point, we’ll take anything that resembles sports, right? Each day, we’ll feature one of the contests and provide you a link where you can relive the glory, exhilaration, and thrill from the comfort of your couch.
The 2008 MLB All-Star Game was played in the old Yankee Stadium.
The AL beat the NL 4-3 and JD Drew won MVP.
The game also went 15 innings and did not end in a tie.
Ok, that’s over, let’s get to why we are really here.
Meeting Fred Lynn
My safe haven for the three years I lived in NYC was Professor Thom’s, a Boston sports & Michigan fan bar in the lower east side. It also serves the best nachos I have ever had.
My worst visit? I was there when Tom Brady tore his ACL in 2008.
However, my best visit happened a few months before that.
I was living in Queens and my friends Mike and Dan came to visit me for the weekend. On Saturday, we went to Thom’s to catch the Red Sox vs. Orioles game.
A little bit after we got there, former Red Sox great Fred Lynn (in NYC for the All-Star game) walked in the door, went right past us and sat at the other end of the bar. Despite leaving the team three years before any of us were born, we all knew who he was. We like sports quite a bit.
I’d like to take a quick break to discuss what I think is the biggest sham in the MLB record books.
In 1975, 23-year-old Red Sox outfielder Fred Lynn won a Gold Glove and led the league with 103 runs and 47 doubles. Lynn also had 21 home runs and 105 RBIs with a .331/.401/.566 slash line and had 7.4 WAR. He won the Rookie of the Year AND the Most Valuable Player award that season.
He was the only player to ever do this.
In 2001, 27-year-old Seattle Mariner outfielder Ichiro Suzuki won a Gold Glove and led the league with 242 hits, 56 stolen bases and a .350 batting average. He also scored 127 runs with an .838 OPS and had 7.7 WAR. He won the Rookie of the Year AND the Most Valuable Player award that season.
However, Suzuki had played NINE seasons in Japan’s Pacific League before coming to MLB. The Pacific League was founded in 1949 and I share that to prove it is legit.
It never felt right to me that Suzuki was considered a rookie. This is not like when Blake Griffin or Ben Simmons won Rookie of the Year in the NBA despite it being the season after they were drafted. Neither of those players had played professionally before they took the court.
MLB players reach their prime typically between age 26 and 29. Suzuki saw his first MLB pitch when he was right in his prime and had nearly a decade of professional experience.
Lynn only had two seasons of experience in the minors and played in 15 MLB games when the 1975 season started. And again, he was 23. He was a rookie through and through, and what he accomplished should stand alone in MLB history.
We have covered how Bud Selig allowed some sketchy things to happen in his tenure, but this was a joke.
Lynn’s other injustice
In 1979, Lynn was robbed of the MVP when he led the league in batting, on-base and slugging, and had 8.9 WAR, but came in 4th in MVP voting with ZERO first-place votes behind:
- Don Baylor (20 first-place votes, 3.7 WAR)
- Ken Singleton (3 first-place votes, 5.3 WAR)
- George Brett (2 first-place votes, 8.6 WAR)
Dustin Nosler’s piece on the most questionable MVP winners of all-time suggest Baylor likely won because the Angels won the West and he led the league in RBI.
I’d also assume Brett’s reaction to the voting looked like this:
Back to the bar
The Red Sox demolished the Orioles 12-1 that night and there were quite a few moments for Sox fans to cheer. The bar was not that crowded, so we saw Lynn glance in our direction a few times as we loudly celebrated several Sox home runs.
We were able to contain ourselves and not accost Lynn while he was sitting at the bar. But when he got up to leave, we almost tackled him before he could get past us. We told him we were big Sox fans (as if the location and our reactions to the game had somehow eluded him) and asked for a picture.
Fred Lynn won yet another award that night; the hearts of three guys from the North Shore of Massachusetts in their mid-20’s.
He could not have been nicer and more generous with his time. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had meeting a professional athlete.
You won’t believe what happened next
Like many bars, Professor Thom’s has pictures of celebrities visiting the bar all over the walls. I became friends with Chris, one of the owners, and sent him the picture with Lynn so he could put it up.
I moved back to Boston soon after that but returned to Professor Thom’s a few years later when I was in NYC for work. That’s right, I travel for business, jealous?
I asked Chris where he put the Lynn picture. He had forgotten and asked me to send it to him again. I was obviously crestfallen as I had dreamed of being immortalized with a Red Sox legend on the walls.
I took a flight back to Boston the next day and headed outside of Logan Airport to wait for my ride home. As I stood there for a few moments I noticed a gentleman to my right also waiting for a ride.
It was Fred Lynn.
I immediately said hello because he and I were obviously life-long friends based on our single previous encounter. I told him how we’d met at Professor Thom’s years before and how I was at the bar last night asking about the picture. My enthusiasm for the spectacular coincidence of now seeing him at the airport likely creeped him out a bit, but he did a great job of hiding it.
Fred Lynn. Great ballplayer. Outstanding human being. And to me, the only one to ever legitimately win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season.
Oh, and if you want to watch the 2008 MLB All-Star game, here it is:
This article was originally posted at https://theturfsports.com/filling-the-void/filling-the-void-the-freddy-ballgame-story/