by Harold Friend
The 1950 Boston Red Sox infield produced one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. Let's get one thing straight. The Boston infield of Walt Dropo at first base, Bobby Doerr at second base, Johnny Pesky at third base, and Vern Stephens at shortstop was not the greatest infield of all time, but in 1950, the unit was unrivaled as a hitting machine. No infield has ever matched its production.
First Base: Walt "Moose" Dropo
Rookie first baseman Walt Dropo, called "Moose" because he came from Moosup, Connecticut, was the American League's 1950 Rookie of the Year. Dropo batted .322, hit 34 home runs, and led the junior circuit with 144 RBIs. He was the starting first baseman on the American League's All-Star team.
Second Base: Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr
In 1950, at the age of 32, Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr batted .294, hit 27 home runs, batted in 127 runs, and led the league with 11 triples. Unlike Walt Dropo, who suffered a fractured wrist in 1951 and never regained his rookie season form, Doerr was a great hitter his entire career. Bobby had a .288 lifetime batting average, and over a 162 game season, averaged 19 home runs and 108 RBIs.
Third Base: Johnny Pesky
Johnny Pesky didn't't hit home runs, but he hit. The Red Sox table-setter batted .312, with 104 walks and 112 runs scored. He struck out 31 times, which is a week's work for the likes of Mark Reynolds. Pesky's on base average was .437, but his slugging average was .388, which is a little unusual, especially in the modern game of Arena Baseball that is played today. Johnny Pesky missed three seasons defending his country's freedoms, which limited his career to 10 years, over which he batted .307.
Shortstop: Vern Stephens
Shortstop Vern Stephens joined the Red Sox from the St.Louis Browns for the 1948 season, which prompted manager Joe McCarthy to move Johnny Pesky to third base. In 1950, Stephens batted .295, hit 30 home runs and tied teammate Walt Dropo for the league lead with 144 RBIs. Imagine two infielders each batting in 144 runs, which tied them for the league lead.
The Batting Champion
The 1950 Boston Red Sox infield batted .305. Dropo, Doerr, Pesky and Stephens each scored over 100 runs, and only Pesky failed to drive in at least 100 runs, but there is a little more. The Red Sox had a utility player named Billy Goodman.
Billy Goodman led the league in batting with a .354 average. He was a solid hitter who couldn't find a regular defensive position. Goodman played 21 games at first base, five at second base, 27 at third base, and one at shortstop. Not too many utility players have won the batting championship.
Pitching is Necessary
The Red Sox won 94 games in 1950, which placed them third, four games behind the pennant-winning Yankees. Boston led the league in runs (1,027), hits (1,665), doubles (287), runs batted in (974), batting (.302), on base average (.385), and slugging (.464), which illustrates that pitching, not hitting, produces World Champions.