Ortiz's Red Sox HR chase has Maryland connection

Al Notebook

September 17, 2006|By Compiled from interviews and other newspapers' reports.

In 2004, the Boston Red Sox's World Series victory ended the "Curse of the Bambino," ushering the sour memory of Baltimore-born legend Babe Ruth out the door.

This month, another one of Maryland's favorite baseball sons likely will be nudged from a prominent spot in Red Sox history.

Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, again a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate, had 48 homers before yesterday's doubleheader. Three more will break the club's single-season record.

The record-holder - the one who has had it for nearly 68 years - is the late Jimmie Foxx, the pride of Sudlersville, the Eastern Shore town.

Foxx hit 50 homers while winning the American League MVP award in 1938. No other Red Sox player has hit 50 in the club's history. Ortiz was second on the list with 47 last year. Jim Rice is third with 46 in 1978.

"It is surprising. You would think that a good right-handed power hitter would have done it with that wall [Fenway Park's Green Monster] there," said Dell Foxx, the 68-year-old nephew of the Hall of Famer.

A retired bank president who lives in North East, Cecil County, Dell Foxx doesn't have any memories of watching his uncle play, but he's aware of his numbers - such as 534 home runs and 12 consecutive seasons of 30 or more homers.

"It saddens me a little each time someone passes Uncle Jim's 534 home runs," he said.

So he has been "keeping an eye on" Ortiz as he closes in on the single-season mark. But he said it's fine with him if Big Papi gets to 51.

"It's not a bad thing," said Dell Foxx, who looked enough like his uncle years ago that he was the sculptor's model for the bronze statue that honors Foxx in Sudlersville. "Records are there to be broken. I think it was a matter of time."

Another record of Foxx's is sure to stay. Ortiz had 128 RBIs before yesterday, tops in the American League. But he's nowhere near the club record of 175, also set in 1938 by Foxx, who died in 1967, three months shy of his 60th birthday.

Showalter's future

Talk in Texas is whether manager Buck Showalter makes it to a fifth season with the Rangers. The 2004 AL Manager of the Year is known as one of the smartest, best prepared and most controlling in the business. His teams are always competitive, but the Rangers haven't made the playoffs under Showalter and players are privately grousing about his acidic style. General manager Jon Daniels has a tough call to make.

"I don't think we'll take a popularity contest with the players," owner Tom Hicks said. "I think we'll make a judgment on what we see."

A save to savor

Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 100th save last week at the age of 24. How impressive is that? Consider the club's all-time leader, Troy Percival, didn't get his first save until he was 23.

Quick hits

Here's an easy explanation for the Detroit Tigers' slide back to the pack. Their on-base percentage has hovered around .320 since mid-July, among the five worst in baseball. ... Kansas City Royals third base prospect Alex Gordon is the first player to be named by Baseball America as its Collegiate Player of the Year and Minor League Player of the Year in consecutive seasons.

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