Ted Williams missed the start of the 1955 baseball season, which was a gloomy one for the Red Sox. Boston was never really a factor in the pennant race and during the middle of the summer, first baseman and hometown hero Harry Agganis fell ill and passed away, in only his second year with the team. In August, the Harlem Globetrotter returned to Fenway Park and in the fall, Boston College took the Fenway gridiron and went undefeated in four football games.
Record: 84-70, 4th in American League
Manager: Michael F. Higgins
On March 18, sticking with his plan to retire, Ted Williams said "my mind is so filled with other things I can't think of returning to baseball right now." Williams didn't return to the Red Sox until his divorce settlement was finalized, and when he did suit up in late May, Boston was already 12 games behind the Yankees. From Ted's return onwards, the Boston actually played better than New York but they could never catch the Bombers.
The day before Williams returned, rookie first baseman Norm Zauchin hit three home runs and drove in 10 runs in a 16-0 victory over Washington at Fenway Park
Another gifted youngster, Harry Agganis, fell ill during a Midwest road-trip in early June and tragically died of complications from pneumonia on June 27 at age 26.
Persevering through this tragedy, the Red Sox pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in August, but losses in 14 of their final 18 games left the Red Sox 12 games out at season's end.
Jackie Jensen hit 26 home runs and a collected a league-leading 116 RBIs. Along with Jensen and Zauchin (who hit 27 home runs), Williams ranked among the team's home run leaders despite his early absence. In 1955, Williams actually struck out less often than he homered (24 Ks vs. 28 HRs) and hit .356, though he did not qualify for the batting crown.
Frank Sullivan led Red Sox pitchers with an 18-13 record and Higgins was named AL Manager of the Year after the team improved by 15 wins and finished 84-70.
One particularly memorable moment in the season came before the Red Sox game on May 7, when 19 Hall of Famers - including Red Sox legends Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Harry Hooper, Duffy Lewis, Tris Speaker and Cy Young - worked out on the field as part of Hall of Fame Day at Fenway Park.
The Georgia Chain Gang returned to Fenway Park in 1955 for the Mayor's Charity Field Day and defeated a local team of Park League All-Stars, 3-2. The following month, the all-scholastic teams in the William Randolph Hearst Sandlot Tournament game played to a 7-7 draw.
|1955 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|June 28||Mayor's Charity Field Day: Georgia Chain Gang 3, Park League All-Stars 2*|
|July 27||William Randolph Hearst Sandlot Tournament: Record All-Stars 7, American All-Stars 7 (tie)|
*For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.
The Harlem Globetrotters returned to Fenway Park in 1955 and defeated the Honolulu Surf Riders. In the fall, Boston College football was unbeaten in four games at the park, en route to a 5-2-1 season record.
|1955 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|January 27||Junior Goodwill Dinner*|
|June 28||Mayor's Charity Field Day**|
|August 25||Harlem Globetrotters 43, Honolulu Surf Riders 38 (Basketball)|
|October 8||Boston College 28, Villanova 14 (Football)|
|October 15||Boston College 23, Detroit 0 (Football)|
|October 21||Boston College 13, Marquette 13 (Football)|
|November 26||Boston College 26, Holy Cross 7 (Football)|
* For several years, Fenway Park hosted a Junior Goodwill Dinner that brought hundreds of local high school students to the ballpark. The tradition was started by Red Sox legend Joe Cronin and the event typically took place in late January.
** For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.