The MLB Pitcher with a Fenway Park ERA of 162.00
Fenway Park has always been known as a hitter’s paradise, but this was particularly true for one pitcher
Andy Hawkins was a roughly average major league pitcher. The big right-hander was 84–91 with a 4.22 ERA, winning as many as 18 games in a single season and had double digit wins on four separate occasions. This was enough to keep him in the big leagues for 10 seasons (1982–1991). However, his career would have apparently been much shorter if he had to pitch more frequently at Fenway Park in Boston, where for some inexplicable reason, he had an ERA of 162.00 across three starts. This was a result of allowing 18 runs in a combined total of one inning. What happened?!
The first time Hawkins toed a rubber at Fenway was September 26, 1989 while he a member of the New York Yankees. In the last week of the regular season, and with both teams going nowhere, he matched up against rookie Eric Hartzel.
The Yankees jumped out to a 1–0 lead in the top of the first inning, but it was not destined for them to hold that advantage for long. Wade Boggs led off the home half of the inning by singling up the middle and the game was now afoot.
Inducing Dwight Evans to ground out was Hawkins’ only bright spot, as he yielded four singles, a double and three walks; the last granted to Rick Cerone with the bases loaded to force in a run. The New York pitcher was removed at that point in favor of reliever Jimmy Jones, who promptly permitted all three inherited runners to score before finally getting out of the inning.
All told, Hawkins permitted a total of eight runs (all earned), as the Yankees ultimately fell to Boston 9–5. It also raised his ERA on the season from 4.50 to 4.85, which he was able to only slightly mitigate by winning his final start of the season against the Detroit Tigers later that week.
On June 5, 1990, Hawkins, who was still with the Yankees, faced off against Boston and John Dopson. Once again staked to a 1–0 first-inning lead, it turned into yet another house of horrors experience for him, as he faced a total of seven batters, with a sacrifice fly by catcher Tony Pena being the only out he was able to coax. Before his day was done, which wasn’t long at all, he had permitted three singles, three walks and allowed five runs (all earned).
Relieved by Greg Cadaret, Hawkins nearly avoided taking the loss., as the game was close throughout. While the Yankees gamely fought back, they didn’t have enough, succumbing by a score of 9–8.
Unfortunately for Hawkins, he had to visit Fenway Park a second time in 1990. On September 1, he returned to Beantown in the midst of a dreadful season that had his record at 5–10 coming into the game. The Red Sox were surging, at 17 games over .500 while the Yankees were 19 games under. It was not a good recipe for the pitcher to get back on track and exact vengeance on a city that had caused him so much discomfort.
Boston pitcher Mike Boddicker struck out the side in the first inning, sandwiched around a Steve Sax double. Then, almost predictably, the Red Sox went to work against Hawkins. He threw just 19 pitches, but those pitches did a lot… of damage against him. Two singles, a double, home runs by outfielders Ellis Burks and Tom Brunansky (sandwiched around a Carlos Quintana comebacker to the pitcher) and five earned runs allowed meant another early shower and yet another appearance by Cadaret.
The Yankees had seemingly little fight in them this time around, as Boston went on to claim a convincing 15–1 win.
Many baseball players have an opposing player, team or location that gives them fits throughout their career. However, few can lay claim to one doing them so dirty as Fenway Park did to Andy Hawkins. Without those three horrid starts, his career ERA of 4.22 would be lowered a full tenth of a run to 4.12. He was a hard-luck pitcher by reputation though. On July 1, 1990, sandwiched between two horrid Boston starts, he threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox — but lost 4–0.
Nobody will ever know what it was about the Boston venue that caused him such trouble, but it’s also a mystery as to why he was 4–0 with a 0.97 ERA in five career starts in Cleveland against the Indians. Baseball is a numbers game filled with quirks and surprises and there are few outliers as great as the effect Fenway Park seemingly had on a poor besieged right-handed pitcher.