From his key contributions as a rookie on the pennant-winning Red Sox of 1967 to
his final games spent entangled in one of the most controversial incidents in
World Series history, Mike Andrews packed plenty of memorable moments into
seven-plus big-league seasons. And while his baseball career may not have lasted
as long as he envisioned, it led directly to a second vocation that the former
All-Star second baseman considers even more rewarding than playing on two AL
As chairman of the Jimmy Fund of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, located less than
a mile up Brookline Avenue from Fenway Park, Andrews has spent more than 25
years helping to raise hundreds of millions for research and treatment into
childhood and adult cancers. Rather than spin tales of his athletic feats during
his many public appearances, he speaks of the dedicated scientists, caregivers,
and patients engaged in the cancer fight at Dana-Farber with the "true heroes"
whom he first encountered as a rookie.
Andrews is the perfect man for the job. The Jimmy Fund has long been a favorite
charity of the Red Sox, and Mike is accustomed to quietly turning in clutch
performances that help others shine. All Sox fans worth their weight in Big Yaz
Bread knows who led the club in hitting down the stretch of the 1967 American
League race, but it's a forgotten footnote that rookie Andrews was second to
Carl Yastrzemski among regulars with a .342 batting average during the most
pressure-packed September in team history.
He's been here so long that many likely assume Andrews is a New England native
himself, but he's in fact a Southern California boy. Born on July 9, 1943 in Los
Angeles, he grew up in nearby Torrance rooting for the Pacific Coast League's LA
Angels and Hollywood Stars.
Andrews got his early big-league fix from television's "Game of the Week," and
after the Dodgers fled Brooklyn for the West Coast during his teenage years, he
followed the exploits of their pitching aces, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. His
athletic genes came from his father, Lloyd, who had played football and
basketball at the University of Montana and owned and operated Callahan's Bar in
nearby Hermosa Beach. Mike starred in football, baseball, and basketball at
South Torrance High.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder initially chose the gridiron, accepting a full
scholarship to UCLA that required his attending one year of junior college to
complete the necessary foreign language requirement. Andrews earned JC
All-American honors as a split end at El Camino College, but then came a
life-altering decision for the 18-year-old.
The Pirates and Red Sox had scouted him, and he wanted to marry his high-school
sweetheart, Marilyn Flynn, and start a family. Several more years of college
football without a paycheck seemed like forever, and Boston scout Joe Stephenson
was offering him a cash bonus of $12,000 plus $4,000 more if he made the
big-league roster. Andrews took it in December 1961, got engaged early the next
spring, and shortly thereafter reported to Boston's Class A club in Olean, New
Like many young prospects, Mike's first taste of professional baseball was
humbling. All around him on the '62 Olean squad were other former high-school
hot shots. Perhaps his self-deprecating attitude took the pressure off at the
plate, as Andrews hit .299 with 12 homers and 89 runs scored in 114 games as the
club's starting shortstop.
Moved up the chain to Winston-Salem for 1963, he hit just .255 there, but .323
after a midseason switch to Single-A Waterloo. He cut his combined error total
at short by nearly 50 percent, and Sox brass boosted him again to Reading the
next year. Mike batted .295, raised his fielding percentage again, and in 1965
while still just 21 years old and earned an invitation to Red Sox spring
training in Scottsdale from new manager Billy Herman.
Farmed out for the regular season to Triple-A Toronto, the top of Boston's
minor-league ladder, he had a disappointing (.246, 4 homers) year toiling for a
fiery young manager named Dick Williams. It was Williams who played a part in
Andrews' winter-league switch to second base (Rico Petrocelli already held the
starting shortstop slot in Boston), and Mike excelled when he returned to
Toronto for a second season in 1966. He played solid defensively at his new
position, boosted both his batting average (to .267) and home run output (to 14)
considerably, and led the International League in runs scored with 97.
The performance earned Andrews a September call-up to the ninth-place Red Sox,
where he started five games in the waning days of the season. He batted seventh
in his first major league contest, against his hometown Angels at Fenway Park on
September 18, and went 0-for-4 with a run scored. His next action came a week
later at New York, and on September 24 he notched his first big-league hit with
a single off Fritz Peterson at Yankee Stadium in a 1-0 Sox loss.
After Herman was fired and Williams named Red Sox manager for 1967, the new
skipper announced before spring training that the starting second base job was
"Andrews' to lose." Mike had hurt his lower back lifting weights in the
off-season, however, and the lingering injury affected his defensive range in
exhibition play. The tough-talking Williams was not sympathetic.
"We can't wait any longer," the manager stated flatly after two Andrews errors
on March 26. "He has a bad back and he can't bend. If he can't bend, he can't
play." Even though Mike had notched a five-hit game and was batting close to
.400 in Winter Haven, Williams announced that day that he was moving fellow
Southern Californian rookie Reggie Smith from outfield to second base and
putting Andrews on the bench.
This was still the arrangement when the regular season started two weeks later,
but it didn't last much longer. Smith had his own defensive troubles at second,
while the center field platoon of Jose Tartabull and George Thomas that replaced
him was batting less than .200. On April 19, with Andrews' back improving,
Williams reinstated Smith in center and Mike at second. With very few
exceptions, Mike Andrews would be the Red Sox' starting second baseman for the
next four years.
Once he got his chance Andrews made the most of it. He hit .321 during the rest
of April, and settled in with Petrocelli to provide strong middle-infield
defense for the surprising Red Sox. On April 25 he hit his first major league
home run, a three-run shot off the Senators' Pete Richert in a 9-3 Boston
victory at DC Stadium. Later in the same contest, he had his first big-league
stolen base and scored on a Carl Yastrzemski double.
A solid May (.281, including an 11-for-18 stretch) followed for Mike and
featured the team's first trip to his home state for a series with the Angels. A
huge contingent of 90 family members and friends made the 45-minute drive to
Anaheim on two buses originating from his dad's bar, and Andrews received
rousing applause from the sign-waving group even when he drew a walk in one of
the games, thus earning him several weeks of ribbing from his teammates. A home
run followed the next day, however, and Mike would go on to enjoy several more
clutch performances in front of his biggest fans over the years (including
another homer at Anaheim later in the season). Briefly in May, the rookie was
among the American League's top 10 in hitting.
His batting average dropped off in the months to come, but even while dipping
below .250 from June through August, Andrews was consistently in the thick of
things as the Red Sox and their fans enjoyed Boston's first true pennant race in
more than a decade. Most often used as a leadoff man in front of the likes of
Tony Conigliaro, Yastrzemski, and George Scott, he also hit quite often in the
second, seventh, and eighth slots and was effective in each position.
July offered a prime example of Mike's value; he batted just .236, but scored 18
runs in as many games to help the team to a 15-3 stretch. He was a key man in a
10-game winning streak from July 14-23 that many signal as the turning point of
the season, with two hits (including a three-run homer) in a 6-4 win at
Baltimore July 19 and three more safeties (with another homer) in a 4-0 shutout
at Cleveland on July 22 that drew Boston within a half-game of first-place
Chicago. Happy with Andrews' contributions, owner Tom Yawkey quietly gave him a
mid-season salary boost from $11,000 to $15,000.
By August, with a four-team scramble under way for the AL lead, every game was a
huge one, and Andrews continued to deliver. On August 1-3 he went a combined
7-for-12 with two homers, five RBI and five runs scored over three contests (the
Red Sox won two), and all told had eight multi-hit games during the month. This
was just a warm-up for September, when he hit a phenomenal .342 (25-for-73) and
along with Yastrzemski and Dalton Jones kept the team in the hunt while others
slumped. Mike was actually well over .400 for the month until an 0-for-9 skein
prompted Williams to sit him in favor of veteran Jerry Adair for several games
down the stretch.
Then, with the Sox needing to sweep Minnesota in two games on the season's final
weekend for a chance at the pennant, Andrews came through again. On Saturday he
was 2 for 3 in the leadoff slot with a key infield single ahead of Yaz's
game-breaking three-run homer, and after starting on the bench in Sunday's
finale, he played a significant defensive role subbing for Adair after Jerry
suffered a spike wound to his leg while turning an eighth-inning double play.
Two straight Minnesota hits immediately brought the tying run to the plate in a
5-2 game, and Bob Allison hit a hard liner off Jim Lonborg into the left-field
corner for what looked like a double and two RBI. The shot did score one run,
but it also became the inning's third out when Yastrzemksi threw a bullet to
Andrews just in time for a sweeping tag on the sliding Allison.
Now down 5-3, the Twins got the leadoff man on in the ninth, but Mike turned a
clutch "tag 'em out, throw 'em out" double-play on a Rod Carew grounder to set
the stage for Petrocelli's catch of Rich Rollins' popup and the bedlam that
followed. Andrews and Scott were the first to reach pitching hero Lonborg, and
managed to hoist him to their shoulders for a few moments before thousands of
charging fans turned the team's celebration into the city's.
All told, Mike finished the regular season with a .263 average, 8 homers, and 40
RBI in 142 games after his late start. He also led the league with 18 sacrifice
hits, and was runner-up to Rookie of the Year Carew among second basemen in
voting by major-league players, managers, and coaches for the Topps All-Star
Dick Williams again benched Andrews in favor of Adair during the first four
games against the St. Louis Cardinals. Adair went 2-for-16, however, and after
two pinch-hitting appearances (and one hit) Mike was back in the starting lineup
for Game 5 -- where he remained the rest of the series. He wound up batting
.308, but the Sox and a weary Lonborg lost to Cards ace Bob Gibson in the
Reality hit hard in 1968, as the team fell to a distant fourth place and the
offensive output for many Boston hitters dropped off markedly. Andrews was an
exception. In the "Year of the Pitcher," during which Yastrzemski was the only
everyday AL player to hit .300 for the season, Mike battled for the league
batting lead up until Labor Day before finishing at .271 (12th in the circuit)
with 7 homers and 45 RBI. He also topped his rookie totals with 22 doubles and
145 hits, and his tiny dip from 79 runs scored to 77 was much more a factor of
Tony Conigliaro's yearlong absence due to his horrific '67 beaning and George
Scott's anemic .171 average than a sophomore slump. After a few crucial errors
early in the season Andrews was steady on defense, and he was developing into a
team leader. Boston sportswriters named him the club's "Unsung Hero" for the
Off the field, Andrews was shining as well. During his rookie year, he had
become aware of the Jimmy Fund's status as the team's official charity. Its
billboard in right field was the only one allowed at Fenway Park by owner Tom
Yawkey for years, and along with his teammates voted a full 1967 World Series
share to the charity. Like other players, he also periodically met with young
cancer patients brought to Fenway by then-Jimmy Fund Executive Director Bill
Koster. One day such a visit gave him a reality check of a different kind.
"I was busy warming up, but I spent a few minutes with the kid, who was a Little
League star looking forward to playing the next year after his treatment was
done," recalls Andrews. "I wished him luck. Bill came up to me afterwards and
said, 'Thanks, Mike. That meant a lot. There isn't much we can do for that boy.
We're sending him home.' That made me realize that an 0-for-4 day at the plate
really doesn't mean too much in the scheme of things."
Andrews became a Jimmy Fund regular and in 1968 was named "Man of the Year" by
the Bosox Club (the team's official fan club) for "contributions to the success
of the Red Sox and for cooperation in community endeavors." He didn't know it at
the time, but the seeds of his future career had been planted.
Mike made Bobby Doerr look prophetic in '69. Now batting second in Boston's
lineup more often than leadoff, he firmly established himself as one of the most
productive second basemen in the majors when healthy. He had a .293 average
(10th in the league), 15 homers, and 59 RBI despite missing nearly 40 games in
mid-season after being hit in the hand by Minnesota pitcher Dave Boswell and
suffering a blood clot that required extensive treatment. When a bad back kept
Baltimore's Davey Johnson from going to the All-Star Game, Mike took his place
and backed up starting second baseman Rod Carew. (Andrews played the last four
innings for the American League and grounded out off Jerry Koosman in his only
plate appearance.) Unfortunately, the Red Sox were again unable to recapture the
magic of two years earlier, and with a third-place finish assured, Dick Williams
was fired in the waning days of the season.
The young lineup that was expected to lead the Red Sox to several pennants was
still quite potent -- Boston's 203 home runs in 1970 led all big-league clubs --
but without the pitching to compete with the Baltimore Orioles, it was not
enough. Back atop the batting order exclusively, Andrews reached new offensive
heights himself that summer. He had 28 doubles, 17 homers, and 65 RBI, and led
off four games with homers -- giving him eight leadoff clouts in his career
(still third on the team's all-time list). He also topped AL second basemen with
19 errors, but even if management had big changes in store after a second
straight third-place finish, Mike's spot with the club seemed safe.
On December 1, however, one day after Dick O'Connell was quoted saying "Andrews
is not available for trade," Mike and backup shortstop Luis Alvarado were sent
to the woeful Chicago White Sox for Luis Aparicio, a future Hall of Famer. He
would later joke in his self-deprecating style that "at least I was traded for a
Hall-of-Famer, even if he was 55 at the time" (Aparicio was actually 36), but
the move "crushed" Mike who had a wife and three young kids happily settled in
the Peabody house where he and Marilyn would live until 2004. The majority of
fans interviewed were also upset, both because of Andrews' reputation as a
heady, tough athlete and Aparicio's age.
After retiring and still popular in New England, he took a position as an agent
with the Mass Mutual Insurance Company and followed the big-league exploits of
his brother Rob, a second baseman with the Astros and Giants from 1975 to 1979.
Then he received a surprising phone call from Ken Coleman, the former Red Sox
broadcaster who had come back to Boston from the Cincinnati Reds to resume his
duties as the team's radio voice and take over as executive director of the
"Mike had always been helpful to the Jimmy Fund during his days with the Red
Sox, and he was the type of intelligent and personable individual whom I thought
could be a great asset as we attempted to grow our fundraising program," Coleman
recalled shortly before his death in 2003. "We needed more people, and he was at
the top of my list."
Signing on as Coleman's assistant director part time in 1979, Andrews needed
just a few months to realize "this is what I wanted to do" and give up insurance
altogether. He succeeded Coleman as the charity's director in 1984.
Today Mike can still often be seen at Fenway Park for Jimmy Fund events and
check presentations. He participated in both the Ted Williams memorial in 2002
(which benefited Dana-Farber) and the World Series ring ceremony on Opening Day
of 2005, and delights in showing his own 2004 championship ring to young Jimmy
Fund Clinic patients. The 18-hour WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon has become
a staple of New England's summer fundraising calendar, and in 2006 raised nearly
$3 million during its 18-plus hours on the air live from Fenway. His popularity
as the public face of the charity led to Boston Sports Review magazine naming
Andrews one of the city's most powerful sports figures. Forty years after his
rookie exploits, Mike Andrews is still helping make Impossible Dreams come true.