Dwight Evans

Evans had already become a regular in the Boston outfield when he was joined by sensational rookies Jim Rice and Fred Lynn in 1975. Number 24, affectionately known to the Boston faithful as Dewey, made his reputation as a strong-armed outfielder who froze baserunners in their tracks, and later blossomed into one of the AL’s better hitters.

After winning International League MVP honors at Louisville in 1972 (.300, 17 HR, 95 RBI), Evans joined the Red Sox for good in 1973 but hit only .223. His offensive contributions were unexciting for several seasons, but he excelled defensively. He mastered Fenway Park’s tricky right-field corner and employed the strongest outfield throwing arm in the AL. His lunging catch in the 11th inning of Game Six of the 1975 World Series robbed Joe Morgan of a possible Series-winning extra-base hit, started an inning-ending double play, and set the stage for Carlton Fisk‘s famous HR in the 12th. In 1976, he won the first of his eight Gold Gloves, trailing only Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline and Ken Griffey Jr. among outfielders.

In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Evans suddenly arrived as a slugger. He hit .296, shared the AL HR title with 22, and led the league in what would become his specialty, bases on balls. Evans walked 85 times in 1981 (he had never drawn more than 69 walks before), drew 112 in 1982, and led the AL twice more in ’85 and ’87 with 114 and 106. Along with his improved patience at the plate, Evans unveiled a new batting stance – a deeper crouch with his weight shifted drastically onto his back foot. The improvements were swift and dramatic. He hit .292 with 32 HR, 98 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 1982, and had a virtually identical season in 1984 (.295, 32 HR, 104 RBI, 121 runs scored). His average slumped in 1985-86, but he still slugged 55 HR and drew 211 walks over the two seasons. He also turned in a strong showing during the Red Sox seven-game defeat at the hands of the Mets in the 1986 Fall Classic, batting .308 with two home runs and a team-high nine RBIs.

In 1987, at the age of 35 and in his 16th major league season, Evans recorded career highs in batting average (.305), HR (34), and RBI (123). He was shifted to first base that July, but never adjusted to the infield, and in mid-1988 he returned to right field, where his play declined appreciably. In mid-1989 he became Boston’s regular DH. Still, Evans retained his reputation as an outstanding clutch hitter, and his careful pitch selection made him particularly dangerous batting with a 3-0 count.

Only Carl Yastrzemski played more games for the Boston Red Sox, but after 19 years in Beantown, Evans spent his final season with the Orioles, batting .270 with six home runs in 101 games.