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Pete Runnels

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Pete Runnels

A photo of Pete Runnels.

James Edward "Pete" Runnels (January 28, 1928 – May 20, 1991) was a Major League Baseball infielder who played for the Washington Senators (1951-57), Boston Red Sox (1958-62) and Houston Colt .45s (1963-64). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

Runnels was born in Lufkin, Texas. A master at handling the bat, he was a notorious singles hitter who had one of the best eyes in the game, compiling an outstanding 1.35 walk-to-strikeout ratio (844-to-627). Altogether, he batted over .300 six times, once with the Senators, five with the Red Sox. Despite winning the batting title in 1960, he drove in just 35 runs, a record low for a batting title winner.

Solid and versatile with the glove, Runnels started as a shortstop with the Senators, but ultimately played 644 games at first base, 642 at second, 463 at shortstop, and 49 at third. Twice he led the American League in fielding percentage, at second base in 1960 (.986), and at first base in 1961 (.995). He was not a good base stealer: in 1952 he set the record for most attempted steals with no successes, at 10. In his career he stole 37 bases and was caught 51 times.

In five seasons with Boston, Runnels never hit less than .314 (1959), winning two batting crowns in 1960 (.320) and 1962 (.326), and just missed the 1958 American League Batting Crown by six points to his teammate Ted Williams on the final day of the 1958 season (.328 to .322). On August 30, 1960, in a double-header against the Tigers, Runnels hit 6-for-7 in the first game (including a game-winning RBI-double in the 15th inning) and 3-for-4 in the second, tying a Major League record for hits in a double-header (9). After winning his batting title in 1962, Runnels was traded to the Houston Colt .45s (forerunners of the Astros). He was released early in the 1964 season.

Runnels was a career .291 hitter (1854-for-6373) with 49 home runs, 630 RBI, 876 runs, 282 doubles, 64 triples, 37 stolen bases, and a .375 on base percentage in 1799 games. He was selected an All-Star in 1959, 1960 and 1962, and he also coached for the Red Sox in 1965-66, serving as an interim manager for the last 16 games of the 1966 season. Under Runnels, the Sox played .500 baseball and escaped last place by one-half game.

Pete Runnels died in Pasadena, Texas. He was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in November 2004.

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Preceded by:
Harvey Kuenn
American League Batting Champion
1960
Succeeded by:
Norm Cash
Preceded by:
Norm Cash
American League Batting Champion
1962
Succeeded by:
Carl Yastrzemski
Preceded by:
Harry Malmberg
Boston Red Sox first-base coach
1965–1966
Succeeded by:
Bobby Doerr
Preceded by:
Billy Herman
Boston Red Sox manager
1966
Succeeded by:
Dick Williams

Template:Boston Red Sox managers

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