WALT HRINIAK (1977-1999) … At age 30, Hriniak became a major league coach for the first time, coaching first base for Gene Mauch's Expos in 1974-75. After Mauch's firing, Hriniak was reassigned to the minor leagues by Montreal in 1976, then was hired as bullpen coach by the Boston Red Sox for the 1977 season. He earned a reputation as a tireless worker, especially as a batting practice pitcher. He threw so many innings of "BP," he damaged his right shoulder permanently. Although the Red Sox had no formal batting coach until Johnny Pesky's appointment to that job in 1980, some Boston players began approaching Hriniak about his theories on hitting, and he began to work with them before and after games. By the early 1980s, Boston players Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman were Hriniak disciples. With Pesky's retirement after the 1984 season, Hriniak was promoted to Red Sox batting coach. Hriniak's batting theories had many adherents among Red Sox players, but he also had detractors. Ted Williams, the Hall of Fame hitter and all-time Boston great, was outspoken in his criticism of Hriniak's methods. Williams and his followers felt that Hriniak robbed his hitters of extra-base power by teaching them to hit the ball up the middle, "swing down on the ball," or to take the upper hand off the bat at the end of their swing — which may have been oversimplifications of Hriniak's philosophies. Finally, after 12 years with Boston, four as the team's official batting coach, Hriniak moved to the Chicago White Sox in 1989 as one of the highest-paid coaches in baseball.



EDDIE POPOWSKI (1967-1976) … In 1967, Popowski was the Red Sox third-base coach under Dick Williams. That season, the Red Sox, who had finished ninth in the ten-team American League in 1966, stunned the baseball world by winning their first pennant since 1946. Popowski was Boston's third-base coach for seven seasons, through 1973, and twice served out a season as acting manager, relieving Williams in 1969 and Eddie Kasko in 1973, the latter for only one game. Popowski won six of the ten big league contests he managed. As a third-base coach, he was notable for flipping the ball behind his back to the pitcher when one came to rest inside his coach's box. He had learned the trick with the House of David. He continued as Boston's first-base coach in 1974 and was a special assignment coach in 1975, when the Red Sox once again won the American League flag. In 1976, he began the year as a minor league instructor but he returned to the Boston coaching staff to fill the vacancy created when Don Zimmer was promoted to manager after the firing of Darrell Johnson. Popowski coached in the dugout and at third base that season. In 1977, he returned to Boston's farm system for good as a roving infield instructor and coordinator of Boston's extended spring training program. Although his responsibilities were gradually reduced as he grew older, he remained active in the Red Sox system through 2001, and his 88th birthday. A field in Boston's training base at Fort Myers, Florida, is named in his honor.