James Edward "Jim" Rice was born on March 8, 1953 in Anderson, South Carolina. Rice was a player with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. Like Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams before him, Rice was a power-hitting left fielder who played his entire career for the Red Sox.
Rice was promoted in the Red Sox organization to being a full time player in 1975. He and fellow rookie outfielder Fred Lynn were known as the “Gold Dust Twins”. Following his first full season, Rice finished in second place for the American League's Rookie of the Year honors, and 3rd for that league's Most Valuable Player, with Lynn winning both awards. During that year, the Red Sox qualifed to play in the postseason. Rice did not play in either the 1975 Play-offs or World Series because of an wrist injury that occurred during last week of the regular season. A disappointed Rice had appeared during the postseason's Player Introductions, in uniform and without the cast on his wrist. He removed the cast the night before, and announced that he was fit to play. The Red Sox management acting with a level head had persuaded him that healing would be the best interest of both Rice and the Red Sox.
The Red Sox would go on to lose the World Series, 4 games to 3, to the Cincinnati Reds of the National League. In 1986, the Red Sox made it to the World Series for the second time during Rice's career. This time, Rice played in all 14 games (Play-off & World Series), where he collected 14 Hits, including hitting 2 Home Runs. He also scored 14 Runs and drove in 6. The Red Sox would go on to lose the World Series to the New York Mets, 4 games to 3 with memorable fashion. Thus, continuing their championship series difficulties.
In 1978, Rice won the MLB Most Valuable Player award for a campaign where he hit .315 (3rd in the league) and led the league in home runs, RBI, hits, triples and slugging percentage. His 406 total bases were the most in the A.L. since Joe DiMaggio had 418 in 1937 (it was also the first time since 1948 when Stan Musial (429) that anyone achieved 400+ total bases in a season. It has only been done three times since Rice's feat, occurring in 1997 (409) by Larry Walker and by Todd Helton in 2000 (405) and 2001 (402). According to the baseball-reference web site, at <http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/riceji01.shtml>, Rice was amongst the 10 top leaders in seasonal batting categories 100+ times during his career. Incidentally, of the 15,000+ Major League players ever to play this game Rice's 4129 Career Total Bases places him in 61st place all-time.
Rice finished his 16-year career with a .298 batting average, 382 home runs (51st best of all-time), 1451 RBI's(51st), 1249 runs scored and 2452 hits(91st). His career numbers compare well to the career statistics of Hall of Famers, Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, Billy Williams, and Willie Stargell. He was an American League All-Star eight times (1977-1980, 1983-1986). In addition to winning the AL MVP in 1978, he finished in the top 5 in MVP voting five other times (1975, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1986). Rice led the AL in home runs three times (1977, 1978, 1983), in RBI twice (1978, 1983), in slugging percentage twice (1977, 1978), and in total bases four times (1977-79, 1983). He also picked up Silver Slugger awards in 1983 and 1984 (the award was created in 1980). Rice hit at least 39 HR in a season four times, had eight 100 RBI seasons, four seasons with 200+ hits and batted over .300 seven times. He was the only American League player ever to lead the league in homeruns (46) and triples (15) in the same season, and he is the only player in MLB history to get 200 hits / 35 HRs in 3 consecutive years.
Rice was an adequate left fielder, having played there in 1543 games. He finished his career with a fielding percentage of .980 and had 137 outfield assits (Comparable to Ted Williams', respective feats of .974 & 140 assits). Rice was able to master the various caroms that balls took off of the Green Monster in Fenway Park. His deceptive above average speed also helped his fielding. He owns the Red Sox' team record for most assists in a season by an outfielder when he recorded 21 in 1983. Rice has also appeared as a Designated Hitter in 530 games. His biggest flaw as a hitter was his knack for hitting into double plays. Rice's ability to hit a baseball dangerously hard, coupled with having many slow-footed teammates on base in front of him (ie - Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Bill Buckner, etc.) resulted in many double plays. In 1984 he hit into a single season record of 36 double plays. He is not in bad company when it comes to grounding into double plays, because many of the career leaders in this category are Hall of Famers (e.g. - Cal Ripken, Carl Yastrzemski, Hank Aaron, etc.). Rice led the league in this category four seasons in a row (1982-1985).
Currently, there are 19 leftfielders in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and when Rice's career totals are compared to those members an argument can be made that he should be inducted into HOF. His Home Run total is the 6th most in the midst of these players, and his RBI total places him in 9th. He is 14th amongst this group in both Batting Average and Hits. While Rice is often acknowledged as one of the best hitters of his era, he has not received enough votes to admit him, as a member, into Cooperstown. Many fans now believe that because of the current steroid scandal, a re-evaluation of Rice's baseball contributions may be in order.
In 1994, a book was written by baseball sabermetrician and author, Bill James entitled, Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? Baseball, Cooperstown, and the Politics of Glory At that time, James predicted that Jim Rice would be inducted along with Mike Schmidt into the Hall in 1995. He based this prediction upon certain statisical measurements that James, himself, had developed that had helped him judge who deserved admitance into the Hall of Fame. Three of his four measurements showed that Rice's career statisics placed him as one of the top 100 batters ever and a fouth test places Rice as the 119th best batter all-time.
Rice, having served as the hitting instructor for the Red Sox (1995-2000), is currently working as a commentator for the New England Sports Network where he contributes to the Red Sox pre-game and post-game shows. The former slugger has been known to pass his wisdom on to the current Sox players and stars from time to time. Jim Rice was elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995, and he is a member of Ted Williams' Hitters Hall of Fame.