Here’s a small glint of good news for the Red Sox this fall: Dwight Evans is finally getting some consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s about time.
To be sure, Evans, who patrolled Fenway’s sprawling right field for the better part of the 1970s and ‘80s, is something of a long shot. He hasn’t been on the Hall of Fame ballot since 1991, when he fell off after receiving a mere 3.6 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
This time, however, Evans’ case will be considered by the “Modern Era committee,” created to make up for past oversights. And “Dewey,” who wore the uniform number 24 long before Manny Ramirez or David Price, has an impressive resume. From 1972 to 1999, the two-time Silver Slugger winner hit .272 with an .842 OPS, logging 385 home runs and 1,384 RBIs. As good a hitter as he was, it paled in comparison to his work in Fenway’s spacious, wickedly crooked right field. Evans won eight Gold Gloves during his time in Boston, displaying a cannon of an arm that wasn’t seen in these parts until Mookie Betts showed up to play. If Evans has an analog in modern Boston sports. it is Patrice Bergeron, another athlete who is quietly good at everything yet somehow underappreciated. Just as Bergeron is often overshadowed by the attention given to linemates David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, Evans played second fiddle to flashier stars like Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk, who are both in the Hall.
Case in point: We all familiar with Fisk’s historic home run in Game 6 (we capitalize it around here) of the 1975 World Series against the Reds, the catcher waving the ball fair as it soared about the Green Monster before hitting the foul pole and setting up a seventh game. But Fisk might never have had a chance to bat in the bottom of the 12th inning had not Evans robbed Reds star Joe Morgan with a spectacular catch in the top of the 11th. It has been rightly labeled as one of the great World Series catches of all time.
If sentiment doesn’t pave Evans’ way into Cooperstown, maybe new-era statistics will. Evans totaled 67.1 Wins Against Replacement (a measurement of how much better a player is than an “average” replacement) during his career, better than former teammates and current Hall of Famers Rice (47.7) and Tony Perez (54) and just a smidge short of Fisk (68.5). It’s also far better than last year’s poster boy for second chances, former Chicago White Sox outfielder Harold Baines (38.7).
The Modern Era committee makes its choice Dec. 8. Here’s hoping they get this one right.