As a new decade in Fenway Park history dawned, the Red Sox took a step backwards. Injuries were rampant and the club managed just 83 wins, despite boasting a roster with several products of a productive farm system. The offseason was no kinder, as Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn became free agents after their contracts weren't delivered in time.
Record: 83-77, 4th in American League East
Manager: Donald W. Zimmer (82-73), John M. Pesky (1-4)
Injuries struck the 1980 Red Sox with a vengeance: Butch Hobson, Fred Lynn and Jerry Remy each missed more than 50 games, while Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice simultaneously sat on the disabled list at one point.
The 1980 roster was a homegrown team, highlighted by seven products of the farm system in the starting lineup. The only outside addition was 38-year-old first baseman Tony Perez, a free agent signing who led the club in home runs (25) and RBIs (105).
Dennis Eckersley led the team with 12 victories and the pitching future looked bright as young southpaws Bruce Hurst, John Tudor and Bobby Ojeda gained valuable experience.
On May 13, Fred Lynn hit for the cycle in a 10-5 Boston victory over Minnesota, one of the few highlights at Fenway Park in 1980.
Don Zimmer had led the team to three consecutive seasons of more than 90 wins but his club won only 83 games in 1980 and never really contended from mid-May onwards. Zimmer lost his job with five games left in the regular season and Johnny Pesky took over as interim manager.
The negative energy carried over into the offseason, when the team missed a December 20 deadline to tender Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn contracts for the 1981 season. When the offers arrived in the mail they were postmarked December 22, making Fisk and Lynn free agents. GM Haywood Sullivan claimed that he had mailed the contracts two days late on the advice of the Player Relations Committee but this confusing explanation was of little consolation to Red Sox fans. The team salvaged the situation a bit by dealing Lynn to the California Angels for pitcher Frank Tanana and third baseman Joe Rudi, but Fisk ultimately signed with the Chicago White Sox and the Red Sox got nothing in return for his departure.