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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Next Joe DiMaggio

Every so often in the long, storied history of the Boston Red Sox, a player has come around who transcended baseball, a player whose impact was so great that he forever went down in Boston lore and was remembered on Yawkey Way as more god than man. Guys like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Pesky ascended to this level — and this year; we can finally add another name to the list: the one and only Rocco Baldelli… (Holding for applause)… (Still holding)…No? …alright then let me explain.

In order to reach this type of man-god status, players must not only contribute on the field, but carry a certain star-like aura about them off it. No problem for Rocco; He hails from Woonsocket, R.I., a city commonly referred to in the national media as the “Hollywood of the East,” and comes to the Sox with the rare distinction of already being inducted into the Hall of Fame (the Rhode Island Italian-American one, basically the same thing). Baldelli’s picture still hangs behind the counter of the internationally known “New York Wieners” on Main St. in downtown Woonsocket, and he was once referred to as “Joe’s twin” by scout Al LaMacchia in reference to the immortal Joe DiMaggio.

Lucky for Sox fans, however, Baldelli is more than just an icon. He’s also a hell of a baseball player. I crunched some numbers and, with the help of baseball-reference.com, took some of Rocco’s career stats and strategically placed them as if he played for the Red Sox to give you a feel for what things would have been like in Boston had the Sox not been five years late in signing him. Don’t worry, this is standard baseball procedure. General Managers probably do it all the time.

In 2003, which I remember as Rocco’s rookie season but you may remember as The Aaron Boone Year, Baldelli drove in 78 runs and scored another 89. And hey, it just so happens that the Sox lost 16 one-run games and another 20 games by five runs or more that season. Add Baldelli’s scoring totals in there and the Sox win 36 more games and have enough runs leftover for the entire postseason. To make a long story short, it’s a World Series championship with Baldelli on the squad.

Fill in some more of Rocco’s numbers for ’05 and ’06 and guess what? Two more rings. Finally, in the 2007 ALCS, who do you think drove in the go-ahead run for the Rays in game 7, effectively ending the Sox’ season? I don’t even think I have to name him, but it’s safe to say that if he were in the other dugout we all would have enjoyed the early morning drinking and bitter coldness that accompanies a victory parade in late October.

I could go on with stats all day but I think you get the point. The addition of Rocco Baldelli all but guarantees a World Series Championship. It doesn’t take a brainiac to figure that out. Sure, he went 1-4 with two strikeouts in his Fenway Park debut last Wednesday night, and sure he hasn’t cracked the 100 game mark since 2004, but in fifty years when you’re telling your grandchildren about Rocco Baldelli hitting 100 homers in a season and playing all three outfield positions by himself, and you look out to the right field façade at Fenway and see that number 5 between Cronin’s 4 and Pesky’s 6, remember where you heard it first. I just wish he would have gotten here sooner.