The Boston Red Sox had few fans nearly 50 years ago. Fewer admit being fans back in 1963 and 1964. Few fans of today were alive back then. Those seasons were the Dark Ages of Red Sox lore. 

Many have removed the memory of the last time, with great flourish and optimism, the Red Sox brain-trust under Dick O’Connell and owner Tom Yawkey decided to pay big bucks and land one of the premiere players of the National League.

At the time, the newspapers were full of reports about the star of the Houston .45s where he was called “The Home Run King” for his 24 dingers in 1962.

Experts in the Boston media said he was a shoo-in to clobber 30 to 40 home runs over the Green Monster. There were no Monster Seats in those days, only a mesh net and lots of broken windows on Lansdowne Street.

Roman Mejias came to Boston at the same time as another catastrophic star: Dr. Strangeglove, the immortal error-prone slugger named Dick Stuart.  It parallels the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford situation.

Fans expected home runs galore from the two batters. Stuart came through, and Mejias did not.

Most naïve fans believed the new home run machines would equal the firepower of Mantle and Maris over at the starry Yankee Stadium.

Mejias was an outfield phenomenon that used a three-fingered glove and made spectacular basket catches out in the cavernous center field area.

Alas, it was not to be.

Mejias, a nice fellow, could not buy a hit with the Red Sox, and his batting average was not much higher than his weight, below .230 in 111 games during his first season, and it was .238 in 62 games the next year. After the poor start, his bench time increased accordingly.

Roman hit a handful of home runs, 11 in 1963 and only two in 1964. Soon, he was permanently benched, demoralized and devastated by failures in Boston.

The sad statistics can be found at Baseball for those with a sense of cruel irony.

Eventually he went to play baseball in Japan in 1966.  The two years in Boston were like having his heart cut out by the high priests of baseball. His two-year tenure with the Red Sox turned into a career killer for benighted Mejias.

How much he resembles Carl Crawford is a matter not yet decided. The abysmal start of the star from Tampa in 2011 is reminiscent of the problems that first beset Roman. Carl’s numbers are far worse as of one month.

After two years, the Mejias experiment was deemed a total failure by fans, press and Red Sox management, but the evidence that he was not the next big star in Boston was clear and apparent by June 1963, only a few months into the season.

That gives Carl Crawford a bit more time before the coroners of Red Sox Nation put the tag on his big toe.

Let’s hope Carl is not bound for the crypt of baseball legend and folklore. 

Sox fans realize it’s a different era today, and $150 million players tend to hang around like a bad penny, and they can remain hitless wonders—and endless reminders of what should have been.

Crawford will be on the Sox roster for many seasons more than Roman Mejias ever played. So, everyone should root and pull for his success.

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