He arrived on the big league scene like a bolt of lightning through the evening sky. Fred Lynn played in his first game on September 5, 1974 and proceeded to smash major league pitching to the tune of a .419 batting average and a .698 slugging average over his first 15 games. He
followed that up with one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, leading the Red Sox to the World Series and earning the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Gold Glove awards for the 1975 season. Lynn was the first player to achieve this trifecta.
Fredric Michael Lynn was born on February 3, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fred and Marie Lynn. At age one his family moved to Southern California. He was an only child, and after his parents' divorce in 1965 he lived with his father, a textile service executive. As a youngster, he
loved sports and enjoyed playing football, basketball, baseball, marbles, and track. He won batting titles in Little League, Pony League, and at El Monte High School. In high school, he lettered in baseball, football and basketball.
During his high school years, Lynn both pitched and played centerfield. In one game during his sophomore year, he pitched 13 innings. He could throw hard and also had good breaking stuff, but was a raw pitcher. No one worked with him on technique. As a junior he was 11-1 with a 1.01
ERA with many strikeouts. As a senior, he went 6-5 with a sub-1.00 ERA. In football, he kicked and returned punts and kickoffs.
Lynn wanted to be the first person in his family to attend college. The family told teams not to draft him, but that it would take a lot of money to prevent him from attending college. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 1970 baseball draft. He decided not
to sign, and entered the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. As a freshman, he played with the varsity in both football and baseball. John McKay coached the USC football team and Rod Dedeaux was the baseball coach. Lynn was a teammate of future Pittsburgh
Steelers star Lynn Swann. On the gridiron, he played wide receiver and defensive back, as well as kicker, punter, and returner of punts and kickoffs. Lynn says he played both offense and defense, and never came off the field. Although he enjoyed success as a football player, during
his sophomore year, Lynn switched his scholarship over to baseball. Is it true that he never came off the field? This was a fantastic USC team, so if he really played nearly every play this would have been a huge national story. I never heard of him as a football player.
Lynn had met Dedeaux for the first time the summer after he graduated from high school. He played on an all-star baseball team of mostly high school seniors that played the USC varsity. Lynn faced future major leaguer Dave Kingman, a 6'6" pitcher at the time. Kingman was the hardest
thrower he had ever faced up to that point, but Lynn walked on four pitches.
Lynn played for the USC varsity as a freshman, sophomore and junior and the team enjoyed three years of amazing success, going 54-13 in 1971, 50-13 in 1972 and 51-13 in 1973, winning the NCAA Baseball Championship each season. Lynn was an All-American in 1972 and 1973. He was named
MVP for the US All-Stars during a series in Japan. During his college career, he was a teammate of future major league players Steve Busby, Steve Kemp and Roy Smalley Jr. He was a member of the 1971 Pan Am Team.
Lynn thought the Dodgers would take him with their first pick in the 1973 amateur draft, but the Dodgers drafted Ted Farr, a catcher out of Spokane, Washington. They were hoping Lynn would still be available in the second round. The Red Sox picked one slot ahead of the Dodgers that
year and drafted him in the second round (28th pick overall -- the Red Sox took Ted Cox with their first pick). Lynn signed with the Red Sox on July 9, 1973 by scout Joe Stephenson for $40,000. He was assigned to the Red Sox Double-A affiliate in Bristol, Connecticut where he played
under manager Rac Slider. It was the first time he played on the East Coast. He started off strong, but tired as the summer wore on and ending up hitting .259 in 53 games as the team finished third in the American Division with a 62-77 record. It was at Bristol that he became a
teammate and friend of Jim Rice. Lynn and Rice would remain teammates with the Red Sox organization through 1980.
They were both promoted to Pawtucket, Rhode Island for the Triple-A playoffs and helped the team win the Governors Cup, defeating Tidewater three games to two and then Charleston, again three games to two, for the championship. In 1974, Lynn started with Pawtucket and made the
All-Star team, hitting .282 with 21 home runs and 19 doubles in 124 games. He finished tenth in the International League in batting average. Despite having Lynn and Triple Crown winner Jim Rice, the PawSox finished last, going 57-87, under future Red Sox skipper Joe Morgan.
Meanwhile in Boston, the Red Sox hired Darrell Johnson as manager and held first place for 98 days. In September, though, they struggled to a 12-19 record, while the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees passed them in the standings, going 25-6 and 20-11, respectively. What really
killed the Red Sox that season was a stretch beginning on August 24, when they lost to the Athletics and proceeded to win eight games and lose 20 through September 22. The Red Sox ended up winning 84 games, third in the American League East. Rice was recalled in late August, and Lynn
was called up after the Triple-A season was over.
Although the season ended up in disappointment, the future seemed bright with a core of talented young players such as Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Rick Burleson, Cecil Cooper, Dwight Evans, Juan Beniquez, Rick Miller, and Fred Lynn.
The pain of the collapse of the 1974 team was erased by the joy of 1975, with the team being led by its two fine rookies. Lynn and Rice were known as the Gold Dust Twins. Rice had a fine rookie season, hitting .309 with 22 home runs and 102 RBIs, but Lynn was even better, hitting .331
with 47 doubles, 21 home runs, 103 runs, and 105 RBIs. He earned honors as American League MVP and Rookie of the Year and won a Gold Glove for fielding excellence. He led the league in runs, doubles, slugging average, OPS and runs created per 27 outs. He finished second in runs
created and in batting average and fifth in on-base average.
It was not only his batting feats that drew attention, but also his wonderful fielding. Lynn was terrific diving forward, snaring line drives, and jumping to reach over fences and take home runs away from hitters. During his career, Lynn earned Gold Gloves four times. Smooth and
graceful, Lynn batted and threw left-handed. As a major leaguer, Lynn stood 6'1" and weighed 185 pounds. He was modest about his accomplishments.
During his magical season, Lynn staged a one-man assault on Tiger Stadium, on June 18, belting out three home runs (just missing a fourth), a triple and a single, driving in 10 runs in a 15-1 thrashing of the Tigers.
The Red Sox clinched the American League East on September 28. They faced the defending three-time champion Oakland Athletics in the American League Championship and swept the series in three games. Lynn hit .364 in the series.
In the World Series, the Red Sox took on the Cincinnati Reds, winners of 108 games that season. Most baseball experts predicted the Reds would win easily, but the Red Sox battled hard and took the Reds to a seventh game. Many baseball fans consider that Series the greatest ever
played. Five games were decided by a single run, two games went into extra innings, two games were decided in the ninth inning and in six of the seven games the winning team came from behind. The sixth game was perhaps the best World Series game ever played. Fred Lynn was the on-deck
hitter when Carlton Fisk blasted his classic game-ending home run off Pat Darcy leading off the bottom of the 12th.
During that game, Lynn smashed a three-run homer in the first inning to give the Red Sox the lead. During a Reds rally in the top of the fifth inning, Lynn crashed into Fenway Park's then-unpadded wall in left center chasing a triple hit by Ken Griffey Sr. Fenway became silent, but
Lynn remained in the game after receiving attention from Red Sox trainer Charlie Moss. In the World Series, Lynn played in all seven games, batting .280 with a double and home run, and five runs batted in, tying for most on the team. After the season, the Red Sox padded their outfield
Expectations were high for the Red Sox in 1976, but the season was a disappointment. The league champions had added future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to the roster, but won just 83 games, finishing third in the American League East. Long-time owner Tom Yawkey lost a lengthy battle
with cancer on July 9. A 10-game losing streak from April 29 through May 11, a poor season by starting pitcher Bill Lee, and a prolonged holdout by Lynn, Burleson, and Fisk all contributed to a lost season. Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson was fired during the season and replaced
with third base coach Don Zimmer. Lynn made the All-Star team, won another Gold Glove and hit .314 with 32 doubles in 132 games, but the season was not fun for him.
He began the 1977 season on the disabled list, from March 24 through May 6, with torn ligaments in his left ankle. He ended up hitting .260 with 18 home runs and 76 runs batted in over 129 games. He made the All-Star team for the third time. The Red Sox swatted 213 home runs and improved
to 97 wins and 64 losses, tied for second with the Orioles in the American League East.
In 1978, Lynn's ankle returned to health and he had a fine season. He played in 150 games, the most in his career, hitting .298 with 22 home runs, and 82 runs batted in. He made the All-Star team for the fourth time and won his second Gold Glove. The Red Sox had a memorable season,
jumping out to a big lead, slumping in September, bouncing back to win 99 games and tie the Yankees for the American League East Championship. The Yankees edged the Red Sox 5-4 in a one-game playoff in Fenway Park. Lynn singled and drove in a run.
Lynn spent the offseason strengthening himself on Nautilus machines. In 1979, he enjoyed perhaps his best season. He led the American League in hitting at .333, on-base average at .423 and slugging at .637. He also slugged a career-high 39 home runs, scored a career-high 116 runs, and
had a career-high 122 runs batted in. He was named to the American League All-Star team for the fifth time and earned his third Gold Glove. He finished fourth in American League MVP voting.
1980 would be Lynn's last year with the Red Sox. In his farewell season, he hit .301 with a .383 on-base average and .480 slugging average. On May 13, he hit for the cycle against the Minnesota Twins. His season ended on August 28. He was batting against Oakland A's starter Steve
McCatty when he fouled a ball off his foot, fracturing his right toe. He was named an All-Star for the sixth time and won his fourth and last Gold Glove.
Lynn was very successful hitting in Fenway Park. Over his entire career, he hit .347 with a .420 on-base average and a .601 slugging average in 440 games and 1,581 at-bats.
The Red Sox were not willing to pay Fred Lynn what he felt he was worth, so on January 23, 1981, Lynn and Steve Renko were both sent to Lynn's hometown California Angels for Joe Rudi, Frank Tanana, and Jim Dorsey. Lynn enjoyed playing for the Red Sox and loved hitting in Fenway Park.
In talking about Red Sox fans, he later said, "They supported you all the time. They were always there and let you know what they were feeling in the good side and the bad side, which was OK. As a player it keeps you on your toes. You don't ever come to Fenway with a complacent
attitude. You come there to play otherwise they will let you know you are not living up to their expectations and I liked that."
On November 8, 1984, Lynn was granted free agency, and signed with the Baltimore Orioles on December 11. He would play with the Orioles from 1985 to 1988. He hit 23 home runs in each season, from 1984 through 1987. He was a useful player, batting as high as .287 in 1986 with a .371
on-base average and a .499 slugging average. Injuries caused him to miss many games. The most games he played in a season for the Orioles was 124 in 1985. On August 31, 1988, the Orioles traded Lynn to the Detroit Tigers.
Lynn was granted free agency on November 13, 1989 and he signed with the San Diego Padres on December 6. He would be returning to Southern California, this time playing for the first time in the National League. Lynn got into 90 games for the Padres in 1990, making him a three-decade
player. Lynn batted .240 and hit six homers for the Padres. He played his final major league game on October 3.
How good was Fred Lynn? At his best, he was a good as anyone, but injuries slowed his career down. There are seven skills in baseball: controlling the strike zone, hitting for power, hitting for average, offensive speed, fielding range, fielding reliability and throwing ability. When
healthy and at his best, Lynn did all these things well.
Lynn rates Fenway Park as his favorite baseball park to play in. Frank Tanana (before he hurt his arm) was the toughest pitcher for him to hit against. His favorite pitchers to hit against were Bert Blyleven and Lerrin LaGrow.