LEEInks list: Veterans who stopped in Boston on way to Hall
|08.10.10 at 6:56 am ET|
With Shaquille O’Neal signing a two-year deal to play for the Celtics, it brings to mind other Hall of Fame-bound players who signed up for a stint in Boston toward the end of their stellar careers.
This list consists of players who played at least 10 years elsewhere before arriving in Boston, and later earned a spot in their sport’s Hall of Fame. (Apologies to Artis Gilmore fans, but he’s still not in the Hall.)
The Human Highlight Film didn’t have too many highlights in Boston after he joined the Celtics for the 1994-95 season at the age of 34. Wilkins, who starred with the Hawks for 11½ seasons, came to Boston and averaged 17.8 points, well below his career average of 24.8, for a Celtics team that went 35-47. After spending the next season in Greece, Wilkins returned for one-year stints with the Spurs and Magic before calling it quits. Here’s ‘Nique and the C’s losing to Shaq and the Magic in the final real game at Boston Garden, Game 4 of the first round of the 1995 playoffs. The C’s lost the game, 95-92, and the series, 3-1.
Pistol Pete was at the end of a 10-year career split between the Hawks and Jazz and playing on well-worn knees when he joined the Celtics for the final 26 games of the 1979-80 season, better known as Larry Bird‘s rookie year. Maravich averaged 11.5 points in 17.0 minutes. His most memorable night came when he scored the final 10 points of the game in a comeback win over the Washington Bullets. Maravich averaged 6.0 ppg in the playoff and then retired. Check out this clip of Maravich playing with Bird and fellow Hall of Famers Tiny Archibald and Dave Cowens.
Hounded all his career by injuries to his feet and ankles, Walton was a risk when the Celtics traded for him by sending Cedric Maxwell and a first-round draft pick to the Clippers before the 1985-86 season. The risk paid off in a big way, as Walton played in a career-high 80 games and won the NBA Sixth Man Award, helping the C’s dominate the competition en route to the NBA championship. That was his last hurrah, as a hobbled Walton played in just 10 regular-season games in 1986-87, his final NBA season.
After nine stellar seasons with the Pistons, Bing played two years for the Washington Bullets before ending his career in Boston in 1977-78. He averaged 13.6 points for a Celtics team that finished 32-50. He’s now mayor of Detroit.
The White Sox legend, who also spent five seasons with the Orioles, came to Boston in 1971. The slick fielding shortstop promptly went on an 0-for-44 streak at the plate and finished with career-low .232 average. He rebounded to have a better season in 1972 and hung around for the 1973 season before calling it quits. In 1984, he became the first native Venezuelan to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Cepeda starred for the Giants from 1958-66 and then bounced around to five other teams before retiring after the 1974 season. Cepeda was back home in Puerto Rico, recovering from knee surgery and contemplating retirement, when the Red Sox called asking him to serve as their designated hitter in 1973, the first year the DH was implemented. He batted .289 with 20 home runs and 86 RBI that season before he and Aparicio were released by the Sox after the season.
Tom Terrific was acquired from the White Sox midway through the 1986 season to help the Red Sox in their push for the pennant. He went 5-7 with a 3.80 ERA in Boston, but a knee injury kept him out of the postseason and a matchup against his original team, the Mets, in the World Series. Seaver attended Mets spring training the following year but gave up after getting hit hard.
A member of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in the 1970s, Perez came to Boston in 1980 for a three-year stint. He was hot and cold for the Sox in 1980, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 105 runs but striking out 93 times and grounding into a league-high 25 double plays. His following two seasons in Boston were not as productive. He spent the 1983 season with the Phillies before returning to the Reds to finish his career from 1984-86.
The Hawk, a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee, made his name as a member of the Expos (1976-86) and Cubs (1987-92). He arrived in Boston in 1993 as a free agent and hit his 400th home run on April 15. Knee problems limited his action during his two-year stint in Boston. He finished his career with the Marlins, playing a part-time role for two seasons.
Jenkins, who played for the Phillies, Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox, is one of four pitchers in history to record 3,000 strikeouts with less than 1,000 walks. (Three of those pitchers — Jenkins, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling — played at one time for the Red Sox, with Greg Maddux the other.) Jenkins played in Boston in 1976 and ’77, totaling 22 wins, before being traded back to the Rangers. He ended his career back with the Cubs in 1982 and ’83.
Known for his high leg kick, the right-hander shined for the Giants from 1960-73 before being sold to the Red Sox. He went 5-1 with a 4.87 ERA for Boston in 1974 and was released at the end of the season. The Dominican Republic native signed with the Dodgers in 1975 (despite the protests of fans who despised him from his Giants days) but was lit up in two starts, and his career was over.
Coffey earned comparisons to Bobby Orr before he arrived in Boston in 2000 at the tail end of his 21-year NHL career (with eight teams), but his stint in Boston was nothing short of an embarrassment. Coffey lasted just 18 games, recording four assists, before being sent into retirement. There were no signs of the player who recorded more than 100 points on five occasions with the Oilers and Penguins. He ranks second to Ray Bourque among defensemen in career goals, assists and points.
Lapointe was a key part of the Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s, winning six Stanley Cups and leaving the Bruins heartbroken on many occasions. After more than 11 seasons of service to Montreal, the defenseman was traded to the Blues late in the 1981-82 season. He spent one more season in St. Louis before signing with the Bruins as a free agent. Lapointe played 45 games in Boston, contributing two goals and 16 assists, before retiring as injuries caught up to him.
One of the top American players in NHL history, Leetch was raised in Connecticut and starred at Boston College. After playing in the 1988 Olympics, he joined the Rangers and made an immediate impact. The defenseman became a stalwart on the Blueshirts blue line, remaining there until he was traded to the Maple Leafs late in the 1983-84 season. After the 2004-05 lockout, Leetch joined the Bruins for one season, recording five goals and 27 assists in 61 games, before retiring. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
Like Leetch, Mullen is a Boston College product and one of the top American players ever to lace up the skates in the NHL. Born and raised in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, Mullen passed on a chance to be part of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic team and signed with the Blues to help support his family. He split his first 15 seasons almost equally between the Blues, Flames and Penguins before signing with the Bruins in 1995. Mullen played 37 games in Boston, recording eight goals and seven assists. He returned to Pittsburgh the following season and retired in 1997.
Plante, an innovator who was credited with introducing the goalie mask to hockey, won six Stanley Cups as a member of the Canadiens from 1953-63, including five in a row. After two seasons with the Rangers, he retired in 1965 but returned three years later to join the expansion Blues. He joined the Bruins for the 1972-73 season, playing just eight games and going 7-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average. He went 0-2 in two playoff games with a 5.00 GAA. Plante died of cancer in 1986, eight years after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Mike on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- depo on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- Jeter_Cheats on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- Chris on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- Herb on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- the truth on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- shutiggyupdotcom on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- Otis on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- Sicko on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners
- BillyB on Reports: Robinson Cano agrees to 10-year, $240M deal with Mariners