Friday, July 29, 2016

Remembering Ex-Sox Felix Mantilla On His 82nd Birthday

Felix Mantilla
After last night's (or more accurately, this morning's) debacle in Anaheim, it got us thinking about the days when the Red Sox really stunk. In the early- to mid- 1960s (before the glorious 1967 pennant), The Carmine Hose were a laughingstock. Ted Williams was gone, and all we really had to cheer for were Pete Runnels and Frank Malzone. And so, most fans just assumed that every other player on the roster was a stumblebum. A careful look at the historical record, however, shows a different story. Case in point: today's birthday celebrant Felix Mantilla. The Puerto Rican-born infielder—who turns 82 today—was a pretty darned good ballplayer. Ironically, he started his pro career in the Boston Braves organization—and then spent six seasons as a member of the moved Milwaukee Braves. Then, he was picked up by the inaugural New York Metropolitans in the 1961 expansion draft. The next year, the Red Sox traded for Mantilla—sending Al Moran, Tracy Stallard and the franchise's first African-American player Pumpsie Green to New York. In two of his three seasons here, Mantilla was really good. For example, in 1964, he clouted 30 home runs—but knocked in just 64 (that will tell how bad the team was that year). In 1965, his HR output was down (18), but he knocked in 92 runs. All told, his Boston career saw a .287 average, 54 HRs, and 171 RBIs. I think we'd take that for a journeyman infielder! Happy birthday, Felix!