Bruce Hurst, born March 24, 1958, will forever be loved by Red Sox Nation for his workhorse mentality and his outstanding performances in 1986.
Hurst was selected by the Red Sox in the 1976 draft out of Dixie High School in St. George Utah, he rose through the ranks quickly going 17-6 with a 2.88 ERA in the minors in 1979 and made the Opening Day roster in 1980. He was promptly shelled, getting action in relief in the second game of the season while allowing five runs to score in an 18-1 loss. He made six more appearances before being sent to AAA with a 10.57 ERA, but was called back up in August.
He began the 1981 season down in AAA and went 12-7 with a 2.87 ERA before being called up again in September, where he went 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA. He stuck with the team since then and became quite the workhorse throwing 200+ innings a season from 1983-1985 while compiling a 42-46 record with a 4.59 ERA before his breakout year in 1986 that saw him go 13-8 with a 2.99 ERA over 174 innings.
That wasn’t all though, the gutsy pitcher went 3-0 in the post season, including two wins against the Mets in the World Series having tossed 23 innings while allowing just five runs–good for a 1.96 ERA; he also struk out 17 to just six walks. Hurst was actually named the World Series MVP… before the Mets made their miraculous comeback in Game 6. It was supposed to be teammate Oil Can Boyd who would pitch Game 7, but the Sox opted for Hurst who pitched valiantly on short rest earning a no decision–you know the rest of the story, the bullpen lost the game and the Mets won the World Series. Should you have two hours to spare, you can watch his entire Game 1 performance here (spoilers it’s awesome).
While Hurst was never the flashiest of pitchers, he often went deep into games regularly tossing over 200 innings a season, while leading the league in 1989 with 10 complete games, and then leading the league with four shut outs in 1990. He was never quite overpowering yet possessed the skill to change speeds often featuring solid control and excellent command of his offspeed arsenal. You can view his full stats here!
Following the 1988 season Hurst opted to become a free agent and signed with the San Diego Padres after spending nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox. By the end of the 1992 season Hurst began feeling shoulder pain and ended up needing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, at the age of 34 his rehab was a long and painful process and the big lefty was never the same after. He played two more seasons before retiring at the age of 36.
Hurst was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004, and helped coach China in the 2005 Asian Baseball Championship. He returned in the 2006 World Baseball Classic to coach the Chinese team again, but they were eliminated early on.
He then made his way back to the Sox organization signing on as a special pitching instructor in 2008 and has been working as a Special Assistant for Player Development since.