Some of us, who grew up in the Impossible Dream era and on into the 1970s, have just gotten used to Yaz being in his 70s. Today, Jim Ed Rice turns 60!
Many Red Sox fans, including some of the Maineiacs, remember only the end of Rice's career, and they do not fully appreciate how great a hitter Jim Rice was in his prime. They remember the ending years of his career, when he still crushed the ball, but with his speed gone, he hit into lots of double plays (as did fellow HOFers like Yaz and Ripken).
But if you do not remember take a look at Rice's stats in the 1970's and into the 80s. Especially his greatest year: 1978. He led the AL in homers with 46 and RBIs with 139. He reached 400 total bases ( 406 to be exact). The last AL player to have reached 400 at that time was Joe DiMaggio in 1937, and no American Leaguer has done it since. Only Stan Musial in 1948 and Hank Aaron in 1959 accomplished the feat between Joe D and Rice. And Rice reached the milestone in part by hitting 15 triples. That is not a misprint, and further illustrates Rice's running ability as a younger player. And if case you think that was a fluke, Rice had also hit 15 triples in 1977, the year before.
Until Rice's final season in which injuries had robbed most of his ability, he was a lifetime .300 hitter ( he finished at .298), and played in the pre-steroid era. The only Red Sox hitter of all time who is definitely better than Rice is Ted Williams. Manny Ramirez is right there with Jim. They would be the top 3 (and I am not forgetting Yaz, as a hitter only both Rice and Ramirez were better.)
Happy Birthday, Jim Rice