2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1999 Red Sox. They didn’t win it all, but they were a much better team than you remember.
And they were a much better team than they had the right to be. I’ve had that year’s team on my mind recently for a couple of reasons. First, we’re on the verge of what will likely be another disappointing Red Sox season, thanks to a front office and ownership that seem to have lost interest in one of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball. Second, Jimy Williams just passed away.
Jimy Williams was the Boston Red Sox skipper from 1997 through 2001, when he was fired by General Manager Dan Duquette during an August slump. Tony Mazz at our sister station 98.5 The Sports Hub wrote this remembrance of Williams’ tenure in the Fenway home dugout, and it’s a good read. But I’d like to focus on what he was able to do with the 1999 team.
The 1999 Red Sox: The Team That Fans Forgot
I think for a segment of Sox fans with selective memories, history begins with the 2003 ALCS heartbreak and the 2004 World Series redemption. But bring it back five more years and you get a Boston team that did a lot with a little. Of course, they had Pedro going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA, winning a Cy Young, and almost winning MVP. In short, the greatest single-season performance of a pitcher in the steroid era.
And they had NOMAH! The beloved Boston SS hit .357 that year with 27 home runs and 104 RBI. But aside from that? Jose Offerman, John Valentin and Troy O’Leary weren’t exactly All Star-caliber players. And future Sox stars Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, and Tim Wakefield had yet to come into their own.
Still, Williams managed the team to 94 wins, good enough for 2nd in the AL East behind the wagon of a Yankees team that would pummel them in the ALCS. But that came after a thrilling ALDS victory over the Cleveland Indians that featured some classic Pedro heroics. Let’s travel back in time to ’99 and enjoy a few choice moments from a season that some Sox fans forgot.