The Story of Joe Cronin, a Red Sox Legend

Joseph Edward Cronin is, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the most underappreciated figure in Red Sox history. The story of Joe Cronin is about a Hall of Fame caliber shortstop, a manager who led his team to a pennant, a general manager, and an American League President.

The Red Sox fan base of today hardly remembers Joe Cronin.story of joe cronin When young fans look at the list of retired numbers at Fenway Park’s right field upper-deck, they often ask, “Who is number 4?” It is an absolute shame, to me, that not only do people not talk about the legacy of Joe Cronin enough, many don’t even know who he is.

Cronin’s Early Life

The story of Joe Cronin began on October 12, 1906 in San Francisco, California. Cronin spent much of his early years in poverty, as the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake destroyed much of what his family owned. Cronin attended Sacred Heart High School where he won many athletic awards for his talents in baseball. After spending a year in the minors with the Chattanooga Lookouts, Cronin made his Major League debut in 1926 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Major League Career

Cronin spent 20 years in the big leagues. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Senators, and the Boston Red Sox. Cronin’s first impressive year came in 1930 with the Senators when he hit .346 with 13 home runs. His best season came in 1933, when he was actually a player-manager for the Senators. That year he had 45 doubles, hit .309, and finished in second place for American League Most Valuable Player. His Red Sox playing career started in 1935, and continued until 1945 when he retired. In that time, Cronin was a five time all-star, hit over 15 home runs five times, and hit over .300 six times. He retired in at the age of 38, due to a broken leg he suffered while playing.

Career as a Manager, General Manager, and AL President

The story of Joe Cronin doesn’t end after his playing career. The year after Cronin hung up the cleats, the Red Sox hired him as a manager for the 1946 season. That year, Cronin led the Red Sox to their first World Series appearance since 1918. Despite falling short to the St. Louis Cardinals, Cronin was praised for the job he did that year.

Following the 1947 season, Cronin became the general manager for the Red Sox. Cronin held that title up until the end of the 1958 season. Cronin’s acquisitions of pitchers Ellis Kinder and Jack Kramer, as well as shortstop Vern Stephens, helped the Red Sox challenge for the American League pennant in 1948 and 1949. In the 1950’s, Cronin had to rebuild the Red Sox core, as many of the teams stars were aging. He had some success, as the Red Sox only fell below .500 twice in his remaining years as general manager. Cronin accomplished this despite having somewhat of a weak team that was only led by a then aging Ted Williams.

Cronin became the first former player in history elected as president of the American League. He was well received as president, and held that position until 1973.

Hall of Fame Induction and Later Life

In 1956, the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Joe Cronin. Cronin fittingly chose to be portrayed wearing a Red Sox hat on his Hall of Fame plaque. In 1984, the Red Sox finally retired Cronin’s number four. Later that year, Cronin passed away due to a long fought battle with cancer.

Joe Cronin is the greatest shortstop in Red Sox history. He always wore his heart on his sleeve, while he was playing as well as while he was coaching. The story of Joe Cronin, however, is not remembered in today’s era of Boston sports.

Red Sox sign Outfielder Kevin Pillar

The Boston Red Sox recently signed outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $4.25 million deal. This Pillar signing comes following the loss of Red Sox superstar, Mookie Betts, in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While this acquisition definitely helps lessen the damage resulting from the Dodgers trade, it does cause a problem in the outfield.Kevin Pillar
In the Betts trade, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, who had a very impressive rookie campaign with the Dodgers. This deal now leaves the Red Sox with five outfielders. (Martinez, Benintendi, Bradley, Pillar, Verdugo) Assuming Martinez is the designated hitter, where does that leave everyone else?

Managing Playing Time

Last season, Kevin Pillar had arguably his best offensive year, hitting .259 with 21 home runs. Where Pillar really shines, however, is defensively. He has been a finalist for Gold Glove in center field every year he has played in the majors. His defensive ability is arguably at the same caliber of Jackie Bradley Jr. For that reason, the Red Sox can balance playing time in center between the two. Pillar can start on days a left-handed pitcher is starting against them, and Bradley can start against right-handed pitchers. This same scenario could work with Verdugo instead of Bradley, as long a Pillar is comfortable in Fenway’s right field. Pillar is also a step above Bradley offensively, which makes him a good option to use as a pinch-hitter. However, I believe that, while this option is a good one, making a trade to free-up room for Pillar to play full time is a better option.

Trading Bradley now that we have Kevin Pillar

Trade rumors involving Jackie Bradley Jr. have been circulating this off-season. I believe that now, more than ever, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be traded. Bradley is still young, has loads of talent, and would be a good piece for any team that is looking to make a playoff push this season and needs help defensively. This move would create room for Pillar, who I believe is slightly better all-around than Bradley to become a full-time player. Verdugo would also become a full-time player, which is crucial for him in this stage of his career, as he is likely yet to reach his full potential in the big leagues. Not only that, but the Sox can finally try to get some decent pitching in return for Bradley. After getting nothing in terms of pitching in the Betts deal, it is crucial that the Sox pick-up at least one or two decent arms to strengthen our subpar pitching staff.

The signing of Kevin Pillar is something that Red Sox fans should be happy about during these dark days without Mookie Betts. However, if the organization doesn’t manage the outfield situation correctly, the team will not improve as much as it should.