The 1959 Red Sox had a losing record for the first time in five years but the club made positive strides when it integrated its roster in August by calling up infielder Pumpsie Green. That same month, Fenway Park hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry as part of the Boston Jazz Festival.
Record: 75-79 5th in American League
Manager: Michael F. Higgins (31-42), Rudy York (0-1), William F. Jurges (44-36)
With an increasingly lackluster and fragmented team, the Red Sox moved to Scottsdale, AZ for Spring Training. Following exhibition games in his native San Diego, Ted Williams suffered a pinched nerve in his neck while driving back to Arizona. He missed the first 25 games of the season and never really recovered, hitting .254 for the lone sub-.300 season in his career.
Joe Cronin became American League president and Bucky Harris replaced him as the general manager of the Red Sox. Pinky Higgins started 1959 as the team's manager but he was replaced during the season by Billy Jurges.
Less than three weeks after the managerial switch, the Red Sox brought up Pumpsie Green, the team's first African-American player. Green tripled in his first Fenway at-bat on August 4.
The Red Sox went 75-79 and drew less than a million fans to Fenway Park in 1959, kicking off a stretch of sub-.500 seasons.
Rookie right-hander Jerry Casale had the best record among Red Sox pitchers at 13-8, and hit a three-run homer over the left-field wall to win his first start on April 15. Jackie Jensen's 112 RBIs led the league.
Despite his poor year, Williams finished the 1950s with an MLB-best .336 batting average, the second decade in row that he'd led the game (Williams is the only player with this distinction). Sitting on 492 career home runs, and wanting to end his career on a positive note, Williams decided to return in 1960.
A regular Mayor's Charity Field Day participant throughout the 1950s, the comedic Georgia Chain Gang made their final appearance at Fenway Park in 1959.
|1959 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|June 22||Mayor's Charity Field Day: Georgia Chain Gang vs. Unknown Opponent*|
|August 8||William Randolph Hearst Sandlot Tournament: Record All-Stars 4, American All-Stars 0|
*For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.
Having been elected President of the American League in January 1959, Joe Cronin made Fenway Park the temporary headquarters for the league in February of the same year. The AL offices soon moved to the sixth floor of the I.B.M. Building at 520 Boylston Street in Boston. In August, a three-day jazz festival presented by music promoter and producer George Wein took place at the park. Performers included Ray Charles, Pee Wee Russell, Dakota Staton, Dukes of Dixieland, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and Oscar Peterson.
|1959 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|January 28||Junior Goodwill Dinner*|
|February||Fenway Park Serves as Temporary Home for American League Headquarters|
|June 22||Mayor's Charity Field Day**|
|August 21-23||Boston Jazz Festival|
*For several years, Fenway Park hosted a Junior Goodwill Dinner that brought hundreds of local high school students to the ballpark. The tradition was started by Red Sox legend Joe Cronin and the event typically took place in late January.
**For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.