Game 9 vs. Washington Nationals: Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson never played for the Red Sox, though on April 16, 1945 the team held tryouts at Fenway Park for Jackie Robinson and other black players. The tryouts were not legitimate, and serve a stark reminder that the Boston Red Sox weren't at the forefront of the integration of black players. Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in August of 1945, and he debuted on April 15, 1947. The Red Sox would not add a black player to their roster until July, 1959.

The Washington Nationals/Zombie Expos didn't exist until 1969, but the franchise has historically been well represented by diversity, including drafting Andre Dawson, one of the best Montreal Expos of all time and a Hall of Famer. Dawson played two seasons for the Red Sox as well, but he was pretty much washed up by then. 

In 1997, MLB retired Jackie Robinson's #42, and beginning in 2009 all major league players and coaches began wearing #42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Two years before then Ken Griffey Jr. asked Rachel Robinson permission to wear #42, and it quickly spread. So while Jackie Robinson played only for the Brooklyn Dodgers, all of Major League Baseball honors Jackie Robinson on April 15.

The 2015 Red Sox season, though young, has so far been a break out for Mookie Betts. Named Markus Lynn Betts by his parents partly because he would share the initials with MLB, Betts has given hope to major league baseball's issue of not having African Americans represented more fully at the major league level. The hope here is he'll hit a few bombs, steal a few bases, and rob someone else of a home run in the finale versus the Nationals!

Game 5 vs. New York Yankees: Elston Howard

Last night's Red Sox - Yankees game was the longest between the two teams since August 29, 1967, when that game went a mere 6 hours 9 minutes. Elston Howard, the first black player for the Yankees, the 1963 AL MVP, and perennial World Series contender, had 5 plate appearances for the Boston Red Sox in that game. He was also a key member of that 1967 Red Sox World Series team. 

The Yankees walked away with a win in 1967, but fortunately for the Red Sox history did not repeat itself last night. 

Today's player is really short, but honestly, there were 11 hours between last night's game and today's game!

Game 2 vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon logged 10 years in the big leagues before he had a breakout season in 1998 as the stopper for the Boston Red Sox.  Like many members of that team, Gordon caught lightning in a bottle. That isn't to say Tom Gordon wasn't a serviceable major league pitcher, but 1998 was a career year for him. Second baseman Mike Benjamin also had a career year. Along with a peak season for Darren Bragg, Darren Lewis, and Scott Hatteberg to go along with strong seasons from Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Mo Vaughn, the 1998 Boston Red Sox were truly lightning in a bottle. 

Unfortunately for that team, they ran into the steamrolling 1998 Cleveland Indians and were defeated in the ALDS 3 games to 1.

Tom Gordon's career had a few bright spots, and after missing all of the 2000 season he reemerged as a solid late inning stopper and occasional fill-in closer. By 2006 he found himself on the Philadelphia Phillies, logging 34 saves. He lost his job as closer but remained a key member of the bullpen. He earned a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies, though spent the rest of the year on the disabled list after landing on it in July. 

The Red Sox face off versus the Phillies tonight in Game 2 of the 2015 season. Here's hoping the Red Sox harness some of the career year energy from the ghost of Tom "Flash" Gordon's Red Sox past!