3 World Series champions, pioneering executive to enter Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2024

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For the first time since 2020, there’s a new Red Sox Hall of Fame class in session.

On May 30, 2024, Trot Nixon, Jonathan Papelbon, and Dustin Pedroia will return to Fenway Park and join the ranks of the franchise’s greatest. Pioneering front office executive Elaine Steward, who broke barriers as a woman and person of color, is the only non-player inductee. Billy Rohr, who had a no-hitter going until the last remaining out of his Major League debut in ’67, will also be recognized.

“It is an honor to be inducted to Red Sox Hall of Fame today with Trot and Dustin, two of the best teammates you could ask for, who played every out with integrity and respect. Blessed and Thankful,” Papelbon posted on social media.

The trio of homegrown stars overlapped for just one season – Pedroia debuted in ’06, Nixon’s last with the club – but their combined impact on the team was significant: three championships in a decade.

Nixon

Boston’s first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in the 1993 draft, Nixon spent almost his entire professional career in the organization. He briefly debuted in September ’96 and appeared in the ’98 ALDS, but didn’t become a roster mainstay until ’99, when he hit .270 with an .830 OPS, 42 extra-base hits, and 52 RBI to finish ninth in American League Rookie of the Year voting and help the Sox reach the ALCS.

Though the club didn’t fare well in his first few postseasons, the right-fielder was a constant contributor. In ’03, he collected 10 hits, including four home runs, and drove in seven runs in 11 postseason games. The following year, his 13 hits, four doubles, home run, and eight RBI – including a two-run double in Game 4 of the World Series – helped Boston finally end their 86-year drought.

Papelbon

Papelbon debuted barely two years after being drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the ’03 June draft, and quickly proved to be one of the most durable and effective closers in the game. Between ’06-11, he posted a 2.30 ERA across 395 1/3 regular-season innings, appeared in at least 59 games each season, and averaged 55 games finished and 36 saves. In ’06, he finished second to Justin Verlander in AL Rookie of the Year voting; it was also his first of four consecutive All-Star seasons.

When the lights got brighter and the pressure intensified, the closer thrived. As a rookie, Papelbon made two shutout appearances in the ’05 ALDS, then extended his streak with 14 scoreless performances between the ’07 and ’08 postseason runs. He didn’t allow a run until his 18th and final playoff outing for Boston in the ’09 ALDS.

It only took seven years for Papelbon to climb the franchise leaderboards. He ranks second to Bob Stanley in franchise history in games finished, and was third in games pitched behind Tim Wakefield and Stanley before Matt Barnes dropped him down a slot. Only Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Lefty Grove had higher Win Probability Added (WPA).

By the time Papelbon departed in free agency after the ’11 season, he’d been Boston’s all-time saves leader (219) for two and a half seasons, having surpassed Stanley (132) in July ’09. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and became their all-time saves leader as well before finishing his 12-year career with Washington. His 368 career saves rank 11th in MLB history.

Pedroia

Induction has been a long time coming for Pedroia, who was automatically elected at his retirement ceremony at Fenway Park in ’21. (A panel consisting of members of the Red Sox organization, New England Sports Museum, and BoSox Booster Club voted in his classmates.)

Beginning with the ’04 MLB draft, Pedroia spent his entire professional career with the organization, including parts of 14 years in the Majors. After debuting in August ’06, he won American League Rookie of the Year and was the AL MVP in ’08. The latter season was also the second baseman’s first of four Gold Gloves and his only Silver Slugger year. He was a four-time All-Star, including thrice consecutively between ’08-10, and was a key member of the ’07 and ’13 championship teams (he also has an ’18 ring despite only appearing in three regular-season games).

A master of getting on base, the man known as “Laser Show” hit .302 and averaged 134 games, 162 hits, 56 walks, and only 59 strikeouts per year between ’07-17, his first and last full seasons. Between ’08-13, he stole bases in the double digits five times. Among the 23,114 men in Major League history, he’s in the top 250 in stolen base percentage (227th), batting average (223rd), doubles (207th), Wins Above Replacement for a position player (185th), Defensive WAR (107th). Within the second base ranks, he’s 50th in assists and 41st in defensive games and double plays turned.

If Nixon was top Dirt Dog, the second baseman was his heir apparent. The ultimate competitor, Pedroia famously tore his UCL diving into first base at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day ’13 and put off surgery until after the World Series because he knew the team needed him. Despite the pain, he played 160 games that year, hit .301, collected 42 doubles, drove in 84 RBI, and won a Gold Glove.

It’s one of the great tragedies of recent Red Sox history that knee injuries – including the infamous spike by then-Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in ’17 – prematurely ended a career that was on track to be Cooperstown-worthy and prevented Pedroia from retiring on his own terms. Between ’18-19, he only played nine regular-season games amidst surgeries and setbacks. In February ’21, he announced he was walking away for good.

Steward

Steward, the club’s senior vice president and assistant general counsel, is a central figure in the game’s women’s history and Black history. Two years after joining the club as associate counsel in 1988, she became the highest-ranked woman in baseball operations history when the Red Sox named her assistant general manager. She was also just the second Black assistant GM in league history at the time. After spending over a decade in the role, she transitioned into her current role. She’s already in the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of their Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball exhibit.

“In a sense, I guess I’m a pioneer,” Steward told The Sporting News that February. “But I’m sure there are many (women) out there qualified to do this type of work. I hope my appointment can lead to more. I hope by being the first, there will be many more to follow.”



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