Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did you know?

As an avid baseball historian, there isn't many facts or tidbits that I come across that I find myself saying: "Wow, I didn't know that."

So imagine coming across one such record/factoid that a Boston Red Sox player actually owned the other day when the Boston Globe ran a pictorial about Ray Allen (NBA 3-point record) and other Boston athletes owning places in sports record books.

Cox was heralded as a skilled hitter with a major league swing. He spent five years in the Boston minor league system, stepping up a class every year, that was hastened by a phenomenal season in 1977 with Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. In 95 games, he hit .334 with 14 home runs and 81 RBI, which was highligted by an All-Star selection, and helping Pawtucket to clinch the regular season championship. After the season he won both the Topps Minor League Player of the Year and the International League MVP awards, and was promoted to the big team.

Cox debuted with the Red Sox on September 18, on Brooks Robinson Night at Baltimore. Robinson had just retired, finishing a 23-year career with the Orioles, one of the longest major-league careers with one club. Spoiling Robinson's celebration, Cox went 4-for-4 in his first major league game, a 10–4 victory over Baltimore. After the game, reporters told Cox he had tied the American League record for most hits in a first game. Casey Stengel, Willie McCovey and Mack Jones also share the mark. Boston returned to Fenway Park to face the New York Yankees the next day. In his first at-bat against the Yankees, Cox hit a single to tie a record held by Cecil Travis with the Washington Senators. Travis set the record of five consecutive hits at the start of a major league career in 1933. Then, in his second at-bat Cox singled off Ed Figueroa. This assured him a place in major league history for his unique 6-for-6 hitting streak.

Cox ended 1977 with a .362 average (21-for-58), and drew considerable attention to himself. Before the 1978 season he was sent by Boston along with Bo Díaz, Mike Paxton, and Rick Wise to the Cleveland Indians in the same transaction that brought Dennis Eckersley and Fred Kendall to the Red Sox. After two years in Cleveland as a backup outfielder and playing all four infield positions, Cox joined the Seattle Mariners in 1980 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981, his last major league season.

In a five-season career, Cox was a .245 hitter with 10 home runs and 79 RBI in 272 games.

Currently, Cox works with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association in raising money for worthy causes and charities.

Cox made his Topps debut with three others at #706 in the 1978 set. The feat made the back of his 1979 Topps card. His last card was in 1981's Donruss and Fleer sets.

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