Despite playing in the shadow of greater players for most of his career, Dwight Evans was a fan favorite his entire career, prompting cheers of "Dooooooooowey" in every at bat. His signature batting stance, right leg twisted, touching the ground only with his toe, heel pointed at the pitcher, bat slumped low, was mimicked by every youngster in New England at some time or another.
Born on November 3, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, "Dewey" made his major league debut for the Red Sox on September 16, 1972 after tearing up AAA en route to the International League MVP. The 6'2" righthander became the Sox full-time right fielder in 1974, just a year before the Gold Dust Twins of Fred Lynn and Jim Rice would arrive in Boston, making for the most feared outfield in the majors. The Sox would play in the greatest World Series of all time in 1975, with Evans hitting a tying home run in the top of the ninth against the Reds to force Game 3 into extra innings. Evans also made a game-saving catch, falling into the stands while catching Joe Morgan's would-be home run ball in the 11th inning of Game 6.
#24 would be the team's most consistent player for the next 15 years, as Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn left the team and Jim Rice's eyesight deteriorated, Evans remained solid at the third spot in the lineup. The early 80's were the best years of his career, as he led the league in home runs in the strike-shortened season of 1981. It was the first of a string of nine years in which Evans would hit 20 or more home runs. Dewey's best year was 1984, in which he led the league with 162 games, 121 runs, 71 extra-base hits, and an OPS of .920. He finished in the top ten in .OBP, .SLG, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, and walks. He also hit for the cycle on June 28 against the Mariners.
The 1986 season was another memorable one for Evans and the Red Sox, as the team added Don Baylor and Dave Henderson and challenged the New York Mets for the World Series title. Evans again shined in the Fall Classic, leading the team with nine RBI and 1.015 OPS. Dewey would most likely have been the World Series MVP, if not for the fateful events of Game Six.
In 1987 Dwight split time between right field and first base to make room for a new crop of young outfielders, namely Mike Greenwell and Ellis Burks. In the years that followed he would play less and less in the field, and by 1990, he was stricly a designated hitter. The Red Sox chose not to resign Evans after the 1990 season, and Evans signed with the Baltimore Orioles for his final season in 1991.
Over his career, Evans quietly went about winning eight Gold Gloves and hitting more extra base hits and more home runs than anyone else during the 1980's. Despite playing in an era where power was muted, Evans piled up stats that measure with baseball's greats: 61st all-time in runs; 88th in hits; 49th in total bases; 51st in doubles; 57th in RBI; 23rd in walks; 34th in extra-base hits; and 40th in home runs with 385.
Evans was one of the best Red Sox outfielders of all time, and was enshrined in the Red Sox Hall Of Fame in 2000. Considered by many to be worthy of Major League Baseball's Hall Of Fame, Evans unfortunately did not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot, and will have to rely on the Veterans' Committee to find his way to Cooperstown.
Dwight Evans - Career Stats
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K .AVG .OBP .SLG
2606 8996 1470 2446 483 73 385 1384 78 1391 1697 .272 .370 .470