Arm Like A Gun
The man who was known as "Dewey" by both his Red Sox teammates and fans alike was born Dwight Michael Evans on November 3, 1951 in Santa Monica, California. Dwight attended Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, California. After earning his high school diploma Dwight elected not to attend college in favor of playing professional baseball after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 1969 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox.
After spending a few seasons in the minor leagues from 1969 through 1972, Dwight finally got his chance in the big leagues. Evans was called-up to the big league club and finally made his major league debut on September 16, 1972. Dewey occupied the right field corner at Fenway Park for nineteen years from 1972 until his release in 1990. Evans was a favorite among Red Sox Nation fans during his time in a Red Sox uniform, best known for his great fielding ability and rocket of a throwing arm. Dwight also played the second-most games in a Red Sox uniform, playing in 2505 games for Boston; only the great Carl Yastrzemski would play in more games as a member of the Red Sox with 3308 games.
After a storied career with the Red Sox, Dewey was released by the team following the 1990 season when he batted .272 with 13 homeruns and 63 RBI while appearing in 123 games, his lowest total of games played since 1983. The release of Dwight Evans came much to the dismay of many Red Sox fans who had fallen in love with the great defensive play and work ethic of the man they called endearingly "Dewey." who had spent his entire professional career with the team.
During his twentieth and last season in the big leagues, Dwight Evans played for the AL East division rival Baltimore Orioles in the 1991 season. That year Evans batted .270 with 6 homeruns and 38 RBI while appearing in only 101 games and having a career low of 270 at-bats when playing in more than 100 games in a season. Dwight Evans played his last professional game for Baltimore on October 6, 1991.
Evans was known, during his playing days, as one of the greatest fielding outfielders in the game. During his illustrious 20-year career he would win eight gold glove awards, the most by any Red Sox player in history. Evans would win gold gloves in 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985. . During the early years of his career, Evans was not known as the powerful hitter he was to become later in his career. Dewey became a defensive standout with a decent but not great bat, especially for an outfielder. During this time, Evans’ best year came in 1979 when he hit a modest .279 with 21 homeruns and a mere 58 RBI while playing in a then career high 152 games.
However, later in his career, Evans would develop into more than just a standout fielder; he would become a standout batter as well (Walter Hriniak has been credited with helping Dewey change his batting stance). During the second half of his playing career from 1980-1989 Dewey hit more homeruns, 256, than any other player in baseball during the decade. Evans experienced his overall best year statistically in 1981. That year Evans hit .296 with 22 homeruns and 71 RBI in only 108 games because the season was cut short by a strike. If the season was not shortened by the strike Evans was on pace to hit .296 with 33 homeruns and 106 RBI if he had played in all 162 games.
Statistically Evans experienced his best year in 1987 when he set career highs in all three hitting categories with a .305 batting average with 34 homeruns and 123 RBI. During his full career, Evans hit .270 lifetime, with 385 homeruns and 1384 RBI and 2446 hits. At the time of this writing, the 385 homeruns hit by Dwight Evans is the tenth-most homeruns all time hit by a right-handed batter. Besides his gold glove accolades, Evans earned many others as well. Evans was a three time all-star selection in 1978, 1981 and 1987 and was also a two time American League Silver Slugger winner in 1981 and 1987. Better known for his defensive ability, Dewey made many great plays during his illustrious career.
The most famous play made by Evans occurred during the classic 1975 World Series with the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" Reds. In the eleventh inning of game 6 of the 1975 series Dewey made an unbelievable running catch near Pesky's Pole in the right field corner. This play was one of the most important defensive plays in Red Sox history. and set up one of the greatest homeruns in the history of the World Series. Evans’ catch robbed Joe Morgan of a homerun and his quick thinking to throw the ball back to first place doubled Ken Griffey Sr. off first base. This play preserved the tie and allowed the game to extend to another inning. In the following inning the Red Sox would win game 6 on the famous walk-off homerun by the great Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, a homerun which shall forever be remembered by diehard Red Sox fans both past and present. Many fans remember the homerun heroics of Carlton Fisk in game 6 of the Red Sox eventual loss to the Reds in 7 games, but only a select number of fans realize those heroics would never have been possible without the fielding ability and great baseball IQ of Dwight Evans.
Nine years after his retirement, and ten years since Dewey had last played for the Red Sox, he was inducted deservingly into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Even though Evans did not put up the greatest numbers compared to the statistics of many of today’s stars, there are some facts that need to be pointed out. For instance, the ballparks of the era in which Evans played during the 1970s and 1980s were dimensionally much larger than the parks are today. The most famous example was old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. As a result of the larger ball parks, Evans hit significantly less homeruns than he would have if he played in today’s ballparks. As of 2010, Dwight Evans has not been inducted in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. His great defensive ability can be showcased with his eight gold gloves, and his offensive numbers are worthy in those old larger ballparks.
Evans finally returned to the Red Sox organization in 2002 as the teams hitting coach and then in 2003 served as the teams Player Development Consultant. Besides his playing career, Dwight is also known for his charitable work. Dwight and his wife Susan have been supporters of the neurofibromatosis non-profit research company after their sons Timothy and Justin were diagnosed with neurofibromatosis in the 1980s
In the minds of Red Sox Nation, Dewey will always be remembered as one of the greatest Red Sox players of all-time, known for his bat but famous for his glove. On many occasions, from deep in right field, Dewey would cut-down a runner at home plate. He had an arm like a "gun."