Joe Cronin, Red Sox Retired #4

Joseph Edward Cronin (October 12, 1906 — September 7, 1984) was a Major League Baseball player from 1926 to 1945 and manager from 1933 to 1947. He was a shortstop and was an All-Star seven times. Born in the Excelsior district of San Francisco, Cronin broke into the majors in 1926 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and moved to the Washington Senators in 1928.

In 1930, Cronin had a break out year, batting .346 with 13 home runs and 126 RBI. Cronin won both the AL Writers' MVP (forerunner of BBWAA official MVP established in 1931) and the AL Sporting News MVP for his work in 1930. His 1931 season was also outstanding, posting a .306 average, 12 home runs and 126 RBI.

Joe Cronin
Joe Cronin

Cronin assumed managerial duties in 1933, a role he would continue with the Boston Red Sox, the team he was traded to prior to the 1935 season, by Senators' owner Clark Griffith—his own uncle-by-marriage. Cronin retired as a player in 1945 (though he was only a part-time player after 1941), but remained as manager of the Red Sox until 1947.

Over his career, Cronin batted .300 or higher eight times as well as knocking in 100 runs or more eight times. He finished with a .301 average, 170 home runs and 1424 RBI. As a manager, he compiled a 1,236-1,055 record and won two American League championships (in 1933 and 1946). His 1933 Senators dropped the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants in six games, and his 1946 Boston Red Sox lost the 1946 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven contests.

At the end of the 1947 season, he succeeded Eddie Collins as general manager of the Red Sox and continued in that post through mid-January 1959. The Red Sox challenged for the AL pennant in 1948-49 (finishing second by a single game both seasons) thanks to Cronin's aggressive trades, but they began a slow decline during the 1950s and did not seriously contend after 1950. While most attention has been focused on the Red Sox being the last major league team to integrate its roster (Cronin once passed on signing a young Willie Mays and never traded for an African-American player during his GM tenure), another factor was a large number of "bonus babies" who never panned out. In January 1959, Cronin was elected president of the American League, the first former player to be so elected. Six months later, on July 21, 1959, infielder Pumpsie Green was recalled from the AAA Minneapolis Millers, becoming the first African-American to wear a Red Sox uniform.

Cronin served as AL president until the end of 1973, when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (with Hank Greenberg) in 1956. Joe Cronin died at the age of 77 on September 7, 1984 in Osterville, Massachusetts, and is buried in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in nearby Centerville.

His jersey number 4 was formally retired by the Red Sox on May 29, 1984. In 1999, he was named as a finalist to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

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