Mitt

Feb. 22, 1959

For the first time, the Red Sox abandoned Florida and opened spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. The most obvious reason for such a move is the lack of rain that can have an annoying impact on training camps in the Sunshine State.

But the Red Sox found that nature can turn fickle anywhere. Shortly after their first workout in Scottsdale, conducted under thick clouds that occasionally spit a raindrop or two, a gusty wind kicked up a sandstorm, chasing the team and its fans indoors.

One topic of conversation as they huddled out of the windstorm: Who might be the Red Sox center fielder on Opening Day?

Jimmy Piersall was shipped to the Cleveland Indians over the winter, opening competition for the job that Piersall had for seven seasons.

Veteran JIm Busby was a possibility, though his batting prowess had ebbed significantly. Marty Keough was beginning his fourth season with the Red Sox, having served as a backup outfielder. Gene Stephens was a veteran reserve outfielder for Boston, mostly as Ted Williams’ backup in left field.

Ultimately, manager Pinky Higgins went with a center fielder-by-committee approach, with Gary Geiger emerging to make 61 starts.