It was 73 years ago today that Joe Cronin would play the last game of his career. It would happen in 1945 at Yankee Stadium in the third game of the season.
World War II was raging on and this 1945 game was sorely missing the likes of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Joe DiMaggio and Dom DiMaggio.
Joe Cronin, the Red Sox player-manager and future Hall of Famer, was the only star left on either roster. He was 38 years old and started the game at third base. Cronin came to the plate for the last time in his career in the Top of the 7th with the Red Sox trailing 2-1. He was facing Monk Dubiel of the Yankees and grounded the 1-2 pitch to Yankee second baseman Snuffy Stirnweiss who booted it.
Cronin was aboard when Leon Culberson came to the plate next. Culberson would hit a ground ball to third base and Yankee third baseman Don Savage would also boot it. Cronin would slide hard into second base and break his leg. He was carried off the field and replaced by pinch runner Eddie Lake. Nick Polly would take over at third base in the bottom of the inning and Joe Cronin would never play again.
Cronin would manage the Red Sox to the AL Pennant in 1946 and would step down at the end of the 1947 season and become the Red Sox General Manager. He still holds the record for most wins by a Red Sox manager with 1,071 wins. Before the Red Sox he was the Player-Manager for the Washington Senators and led them to the 1933 AL Pennant at the age of 26.
He came to the Red Sox in 1935 when Tom Yawkey offered the Senators' owner Clark Griffith $250,000 and Lyn Lary for Cronin to be the new Red Sox shortstop and manager. $250,000 in 1935 is equivalent to $4.6 million today. All it needed was Cronin's approval. Cronin knew how much the money would help Griffith so Cronin told Griffith he would be crazy not to make the deal. The rest as they say is history.
Cronin would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956 getting 79% of the votes.