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.

Alex Cora’s Sophomore Season in Boston

As Alex Cora enters his sophomore season in a Red Sox uniform, it’s hard not to point out how he is the fifth manager in Major League Baseball to win a World Series in his first year. Many have tried, and many have failed. The last time such a feat occurred was in 2001, when Bob Brenly was manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The best part of that World Series? Watching the Yankees lose.

With the Red Sox winning their ninth World Series Championship on October 28th, 2018,sophomore season it’s hard not to wonder what this season will bring. Will Cora help this team win back to back championships? Only time can tell. The last time such a feat occurred was from 1998 – 2000, when the New York Yankees won 3 years in a row. Since then, some teams have been close, but none have accomplished it.

From Player to Manager…

When the Red Sox handed out those beautiful World Series rings on Opening Day, Cora’s had two mini trophies on it. One from 2007, and one from 2018. In case people have forgotten, Cora was the utility infielder that Dustin Pedroia looked up to in 2007 while Cora was a member of the Red Sox. Also, he wore number 13 for the Red Sox.

Like many managers in baseball, such as Brad Ausmus and Rocco Baldelli, Alex Cora also spent time on the field, playing for the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers and Nationals. He also was the bench coach when Houston won the World Series in 2017.

So, who was the first Red Sox manager to also be a former player? Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins, who led the Red Sox (known back then as the Boston Americans) to their first World Series back in 1903.

From 1 to 47…

When Alex Cora officially became the Red Sox manager on November 2, 2017, he became the 47th manager in the organization’s history. When you go from top to bottom, Cora is one of a handful of managers who made it to his second year at the helm.

The only manager to make it past 10 years at the helm is Hall of Famer, Joe Cronin. Cronin spent 13 years as a manager for the Red Sox. Cronin also played for the Red Sox from 1935 until 1945. Back then, it was popular for players to also be managers. Cronin, who was a seven time All Star, has his number 4 retired by the Boston Red Sox.

In total, eleven former Red Sox managers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame – Cronin, Collins, Ed Barrow, Lou Boudreaux, Billy Herman, Joe McCarthy, Dick Williams, Hugh Duffy Frank Chance, Bucky Harris and Cy Young. Out of these eleven Hall of Famers, only one has their number retired. In total, two former managers have their number retired by the Red Sox. The first being Cronin, the second is Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008.

Cora’s former Red Sox manager, Terry Francona comes in second in the Red Sox organization in wins. During his eight seasons as a Red Sox manager, “Tito” went 744-552, while winning two titles in Boston.

Can Cora Make It All The Way?

Since the beginning of the season, the Red Sox have been on a bumpy road. As they continue with their homestead against Toronto and Baltimore, one can only wonder what will happen next.

Many fans in Red Sox Nation hope that Cora has some magic up his sleeve when it comes to going back to the postseason. Only time can tell how this season will go.