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Red Sox announce team Hall of Fame inductees Featured

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Youkilis, Lowe, Lowell headline five-man 2018 class

The biennial Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame class has been announced. Five players – including three from the team’s recent run of success and two from farther back in franchise history – will be inducted in May of 2018.

Kevin Youkilis, Derek Lowe and Mike Lowell are all being honored, as are Pumpsie Green (the first African-American player in team history) and Buck Freeman (one of the game’s earliest power hitters).

Kevin Youkilis spent parts of nine seasons with the Red Sox, first getting the call in 2004 and playing a significant role in Boston’s 2004 and 2007 World Series championships. Known for his keen batting eye, Youk played nearly 1,000 games in a Boston uniform. In those games, he slashed .287/.388/.487; he hit 133 homers with 564 RBI and 594 runs scored. He was named an All-Star three times and won a Gold Glove; in 2008 and 2009, he finished third and sixth respectively in the American League MVP voting. He was also a bit of a folk hero in Boston, with his generally lumpiness and propensity for perspiration serving to make him a beloved figure (seriously – I don’t know that I’ve ever watched a sweatier ballplayer than Kevin Youkilis).

Derek Lowe began his major league career with the Red Sox in 1997, coming to Boston as part of one of the greatest trades in team history; he and 2016 Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee Jason Varitek came together from Seattle in exchange for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. Lowe was in a Boston uniform for eight seasons at the start of what would eventually become a 17-year big league career. All told, he went 70-55 with Boston, including a 21-8 season in 2002 (a year in which he also threw a no-hitter); he also saved 85 games during his 1999-2001 run as team closer. He had an ERA of 3.72 and a WHIP of 1.288 in just over 1,000 innings. He made two All-Star teams and pitched wonderfully as one of the heroes of the 2004 postseason.

Mike Lowell came to Boston as part of another trade that would have a major impact on the franchise. He and starting pitcher Josh Beckett came from the Marlins in November of 2005 as part of a deal that sent Hanley Ramirez to Florida. Lowell played third base for the Red Sox from 2006 through 2010. While his tenure in Boston was short – just five years – he was a major part of that 2007 World Series winner. His stats for that stretch are good-not-great, with a slash line of .290/.346/.468 and counting totals of 80 homers, 374 RBI and 293 runs scored. However, he quickly became a fan favorite for Boston – especially when he batted over .350 for the 2007 postseason and was named the World Series MVP. That’s more than enough to warrant a spot in Boston’s Hall.

Pumpsie Green became the last first African-American player when the Red Sox finally integrated in 1959 – the last MLB team to do so. While Green’s playing career wasn’t spectacular - .244/.353/.360 with just a dozen homers in 327 games of mostly part-time duty – he also became a part of the franchise after his on-the-field days were over, working for the team since the early 1970s. A long overdue recognition of an important figure in Boston sports history.

Buck Freeman played seven seasons for the then-Boston Americans from 1901-1907. His first three years marked him as one of the league’s preeminent power hitters. Granted, in the Deadball Era, that meant he was hitting a dozen homers a year; he led the league with 13 in 1903. He also led the league in RBI in both 1902 and 1903 and was part of the Boston team that won the very first World Series – also in 1903.

While these players don’t quite merit inclusion in Cooperstown, they’re more than worthy of recognition for their significant contributions to the Boston Red Sox franchise. All five of these men played important roles in the team’s history – roles for which they should all be celebrated.

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