We re less than a month from Opening Day, so it s time to start previewing the season. Inspired by an old feature on The Black Table, we re going team-by-team and distributing Four Things You Don t Know about them. If you have suggested oddities on your team, send them to us at email@example.com. Today: The Boston Red Sox.
• 1. Just a Tad Behind the NHL in Integration. Not only did the Red Sox pass on opportunities to sign both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays (the former worked out at Fenway before ownership and management, the latter was scouted — both chronicled in Boston Herald writer Howard Bryant's "Shut Out"), they were the last MLB organization to integrate. The Boston Bruins had a black player on the ice (Willie O'Ree in 1958) before the Red Sox had a black player in uniform. Curse of the Bambino? More like a self-inflicted wound.
• 2. Management Quite Possibly Hates Curt Schilling. When the Red Sox pitcher endorsed George W. Bush right after the 2004 World Series, Red Sox management blew a gasket. The franchise was in the middle of trying to heavily remodel Fenway Park, which required cutting through a swarth of red tape in Boston — a city, as one might imagine, that is heavily Democratic. Schilling went on to campaign for Bush in Ohio, and Red Sox President John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and general manager Theo Epstein went to New Hampshire to campaign for John Kerry. Fenway was renovated, albeit slightly; and Bush won the election, albeit marginally.
• 3. Nixon's the One. Trot Nixon attended the same high school — New Hanover High in Wilmington, NC — as journalist David Brinkley, who was on the air for NBC the day that Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. NFL quarterbacks Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel also attended New Hanover. Trot's father, Dr. William Nixon, caught Hall of Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter at Perquimans High School, also in NC.
• 4. They Will Keep Your Resume on File. After retiring from baseball, pitcher Luis Tiant couldn't find a job in coaching with the BoSox, so he went to work for the Massachusetts Lottery.
(Tomorrow: The Chicago Cubs)