The Boston Red Sox had some pretty good baseball players back in the 1970’s. But, one you may not have heard much about was Sonny Siebert. A starting pitcher who was better known for his strong first few years with the Cleveland Indians, Siebert was mediocre in two of his four full seasons with the Red Sox. However, he was quite good in 1970, and won 15 games with a fine 3.44 ERA. He would be much better in 1971, and in terms of Wins Above Replacement, it would be his best.
The Sox acquired Siebert along with Vicente Romo and Joe Azcue for Dick Ellsworth, Ken Harrelson, and Juan Pizarro. As Red Sox trades go, many of which have turned out hilariously bad for the franchise, this was actually a good one for Boston. Azcue and Romo were replacement level, but Harrelson and Pizzaro only had one good year for Cleveland and Ellsworth never really did much after that. Pizzaro would have another good season later with the Cubs. Although Siebert was mediocre in 1969 and 1972, he was quite good in between, meaning that the Red Sox easily won this trade.
Of course, as is the case in many player’s career years, a ton went right for Sonny Siebert in 1971. Not only did he pitch very well, winning 16 games with a sparkling 2.91 ERA, Sonny also had a great year with the BAT. That’s right: American League pitchers still had to come to bat with no Designated Hitter rule until 1973.
What’s particularly incredible about Siebert’s 1971 season with the bat is that in no other season did he come close to being as good. In 1971, he hit .266/.289/.532 with 6 HR and 15 RBI. His career marks: .173/.204/.270 with 12 HR. Whether it was a crazy fluke or not, it was a really nice year for Sonny.
Unfortunately, that was the last year Siebert would even be above average. He would pitch OK, but not great in 1972. The Red Sox would trade him away in a conditional deal in May 1973 after working out of the bullpen in just two games to the Texas Rangers. They’d get nothing in return. Siebert wouldn’t be much good in Texas, either, and they would in turn trade him to the St. Louis Cardinals for a career minor leaguer in October 1973. Siebert wouldn’t pitch badly, but not well, either. He’d be shipped to the Padres along with solid relief pitcher Rich Folkers after the 1974 season. Neither pitcher did much good for the Padres. Siebert finished his career in 1976 with the Oakland Athletics, actually finishing out as a useful spot starter for a 1st place team.
Over a 12 year career, Sonny Siebert finished with 140 wins against only 114 loses with a 3.21 career ERA, 10 percent better than league average overall. Had he kept his early Cleveland form, he’d probably be remembered even today. While he had a couple of superior pitching seasons with the Indians (today known as the Guardians), nothing can take away Sonny’s amazing year with the bat for the Red Sox, while also being the ace of that team’s pitching staff. Siebert still lives in his home state of Missouri and turns 85 years old on the day this article was posted, January 14, 2022.
Thanks for the memories, Sonny!