Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to former Red Sox Bryant Nelson! Nelson was a utility type player for the 2002 Red Sox team. He could play both the infield, and outfield, which made him a valuable member of the club.
According to my 2002 scorebook, I made it to 18 Red Sox games that season. (At the very least, I scored 18 games I went to.) Bryant Nelson appeared in three of those.
On June 8 Curt Schilling faced Pedro Martinez in one of the all-time great pitching match-ups. In the eighth inning of that game, Tony Clark drove in a run with a fielder’s choice. Bryant Nelson was inserted as the pinch runner at first base. With Johnny Damon at third, Nelson represented the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, that was where he remained as the inning ended. Nelson went in to play left-field, taking the place of Brian Daubach. He played the ninth inning in left, without making a play. The Sox ended up losing 3-2.
Nelson was in the starting line-up when the Braves came to town on June 30. He was at second base, batting ninth. He managed a ground out and a walk, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, coincidentally enough Tony Clark, in the seventh inning. In the field, Nelson managed four putouts, and two assists. The Sox ended up losing 7-3 when the Braves scored four runs in the top of the tenth.
The final time I saw Nelson at Fenway was on July 6, against the Tigers. The Sox had an 8-0 lead in the eighth when he was inserted as a defensive replacement at second, taking Nomar Garciaparra’s spot in the order. (Lou Merloni slid over from second to short to complete the switch.) While in the field, he made two more assists. The Sox ended up winning the game 8-0.
If you’re keeping track, and why wouldn’t you be, in the three games I saw Bryant Nelson play live, he went 0-1 with a walk. He had four putouts, and four assists. The bad news is that he had a .000 batting average. The better news is his .500 OBP. The good news is that he had a 1.000 fielding percentage at two positions.
For those games, and all the other games in which he helped the Sox…
Happy 36th Birthday Bryant Nelson!