Double The Fun: Manager Joe Cronin Slams Three Pinch Hit Homers in Back to Back Double Dips

According to one of baseball’s oldest unwritten rules, even though the manager doesn’t hit, field or pitch, he’s the one who gets the axe when the team falters.

But in Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin’s case, he did hit—and hit a ton.

In 1943 the Red Sox were, like many of the war years’ teams, awful. Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky were serving in World War II and adequate—or even inadequate—replacements could not been found.

Al Simmons, the once great Philadelphia Athletics’ slugger was too old. At 41, Simmons hit a meager .203. And George “Catfish” Metokovich (.243) was, at 22, too young.

So it fell to player-manager Joe Cronin to pick up the slack for the struggling seventh place Red Sox.

Shortstop Cronin, 37, appeared in only 59 games with 77 at bats. But he made the most of his limited playing time.

During back-to-back double headers against the A’s on June 15 and 17, Cronin pinch hit four times and slammed three home runs, all with two men on base. The Red Sox, however, dropped three of the four contests.

Cronin had one of baseball’s most productive careers both on and off the field. During his 20 years as an active player that began in 1926 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cronin batted .300 or higher eight times and knocked in 100 runs or more eight times. He finished with a .301 average, 170 home runs, 1,424 RBIs and 7 All Star Game selections.

Before Cronin managed the Red Sox (1935-1947), he piloted the Washington Senators from 1928-1934. Although Cronin led  the Senators (1933) and the Red Sox to the World Series his teams lost to the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1947, the Red Sox promoted Cronin to general manager where his aggressive trading brought the teams stars like Vern Stephens and Ellis Kinder to propel the team into contention. But the Sox never got past contender status. By the early 1950s, the Red Sox entered into a sustained slump. In retrospect, Cronin came under fire for passing up an opportunity to sign Willie Mays, never trading for a black player and for remaining baseball’s last all white team. Nevertheless in 1959, the American League elected Cronin its president, the first former player ever so honored. Cronin remained president until 1973.

The Hall of Fame inducted Cronin in 1956 and, in 1984, the Red Sox retired his uniform number 4.

“Double The Fun” is a Friday feature here that looks at notable doubleheader in baseball history each week.

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