Sounds like a dynasty waiting to explode right? Wrong, it was the 1975 Red Sox tale starring Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, whom then-Boston Globe writer Peter Gammons dubbed "The Gold Dust Twins."
The smooth center fielder from California, Lynn also captured Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the only player in league history to get both awards in the same season. Finishing second in rookie voting that season? You guessed it, Jim 'Ed' Rice, the blue-collared slugger from South Carolina.
Lynn took the headlines and a pair of shiny trophies that fall, but earlier this year — 34 years, 2,260 hits, 359 homers and 1,336 RBIs later — it was his left fielder who earned baseball's highest honor: an induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
“I’m so happy for him, I can’t even tell you,” Lynn told the Boston Herald. “I called him right after the announcement, and his cell phone was already full.”
Although Lynn played alongside Rice for just seven seasons, he had a good feeling that Rice would get summoned to baseball immortality.
“I never saw anyone hit the ball like him — he was killing it. The ball just came off his bat differently," Lynn said, remembering how his homers would, "go to the Mass Pike. But I remember one home run he hit against Kansas City that landed off the brick wall behind the center field bleachers. Don’t know how far that would have gone. It was a rocket.”
Lynn would head out West to the Angels in 1980, breaking up the tremendous trio of outfielders that also featured Dwight Evans in right. Dewey showed up on the scene in the early '70s and lasted in the Hub all the way until 1990, outlasting both Gold Dust Twins — Rice called it quits in '89. Many argue that Evans (not as many make a case for Lynn) deserves HOF recognition, but Rice remains the lone rep from that incredible outfield to get the invite to the Hall.
It took Rice 15 years to get the nod and many blame the delay because of Rice's relationship — or lack thereof — with the Boston media. Lynn disagrees.
“I don’t think that had anything to do with it,” Lynn said. “Boston could be a tough town, especially if you were a shy kid. Jim just wanted to play ball. He’ll really mellow now that he’s in the Hall of Fame.”
One aspect that may have helped Rice get in, according to Lynn, was that he was smashing balls out of the park, off the monster and into the Boston night sky before the wretched "steroid era."
“I really think that helped him (with Hall voters),” Lynn said. “They didn’t know how to categorize Jim. He had good stats, but he didn’t hit 500 homers. He didn’t get 3,000 hits.”
But he did hit 382 homers and he did have 2,452 hits. But most importantly, he has one invite, an eternal award, into baseball's Hall of Fame.
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