Sox 88 – Sam Horn


Sam Horn is another example of a heralded Fenway power hitter who never quite made it. But in January of 88, an article by Globe writer Marvin Pave expressed hope that Horn could provide some power to a lineup that needed a jumpstart.
Jim Rice, who was by now exclusively a DH, had seen his power numbers drop to 13 homers and 62 rbi's in 87. At age 34, there was talk that his career was on the downgrade. Horn had had a fine year at Pawtucket the previous season- a .321 mark with 30 homers and 84 rbi's in just 94 games. Promoted to Boston in July, he batted .278 with 14 homers and 46 ribbies. Though a lefty hitter, Horn was projected as a first baseman-DH who could put up numbers, especially in Fenway. He was not known, however, for his fielding at first, being sometimes compared to Dick "Dr Strangeglove" Stuart, an infamous member of the early 60's Sox.
In Pave's article, Horn talked about getting his weight down (he was at 248 pounds on a 6'5" frame) and expressed hope that he would be remembered more for his bat. "I don't want to be a one-dimensional player", he was quoted as saying, "but I woudn't mind sitting if I can be a member of the Red Sox."
It never turned out for Horn. In parts of 88 and 89, Sam twice batted .148 with very disappointing power numbers. He then bounced to Baltimore, Cleveland, and Texas, occasionally showing power but never becoming an everyday player. He also struck out a great deal. In seven major league seasons, he hit .240 with 62 homers. In the late 90's he played in Taiwan, well-paid but apparently still not achieving his potential.
Following his retirement, Horn worked for a time as a postgame analyst for NESN. Despite his failures, he remained a popular personality, with the Sox message board website known as Sons of Sam Horn. That title was also used for a Red Sox blog.
It's unfortunate that Sam never made it. If he could have been a more consistent hitter, he probably would have become a fan favorite in Boston at a time when the team was being criticized for their lack of African-American players. Too bad, Sam

About Matt O'Donnell