Search

Dirt Dog Has His Day Boston's Trot Nixon has made a name for himself with hustle and hitting

Aug. 13, 2001
Aug. 13, 2001

Table of Contents
Aug. 13, 2001

College Football Preview 2001

Dirt Dog Has His Day Boston's Trot Nixon has made a name for himself with hustle and hitting

The labels are beginning to pile up for Red Sox outfielder Trot
Nixon. For starters, there's his de facto first name, short for
Trotman, the antebellum-sounding middle name he was given in
honor of his grandfather. Although his first name is
Christopher, he has been called Trot since his childhood in
Wilmington, N.C. Then there's the nameplate above his locker in
the Sox' Fenway Park clubhouse, which reads VOLCANO instead of
NIXON. A mischievous teammate made the change because the
hyperintense Nixon, as Boston first baseman Brian Daubach says,
"can erupt at any time."

This is an article from the Aug. 13, 2001 issue Original Layout

Nixon got yet another tag last month, when Blue Jays reliever
Paul Quantrill referred to him and some of his unheralded
teammates as "dirt dogs." Says Nixon, "It's a compliment. It
means we're not afraid to get dirty, to do whatever it takes to
win." Dirt Dog is fitting, but the label Nixon likes most is
regular, one he has earned this season with the best play of his
four-year career.

Through Sunday, Nixon, 27, was hitting .283. He was second on the
Red Sox in RBIs, with 57, behind slugger Manny Ramirez, and tied
for second (with Daubach) in home runs (18, a career high), also
behind Ramirez. After starting the season in rightfield, Nixon
shifted to center when Carl Everett went down with a sprained
right knee on June 21. During Everett's absence, Nixon batted
.316, had seven homers, drove in 23 runs in 31 games and played
his usual stellar defense. (He went back to right when Everett
returned to action on July 28.) Only Ramirez has been in Boston's
revolving-door lineup more often than Nixon, whose at bats have
been evenly spread among the top three spots in the order.

In the clubhouse Nixon, a lefthanded hitter who sends the ball to
all fields, gets a lot of credit for keeping injury-ravaged
Boston in the fight for a postseason berth. Not bad for someone
whose ability to play every day was questioned publicly by Red
Sox general manager Dan Duquette during spring training. Now,
with a rare flash of humor, Duquette says, "Nixon's the one. He's
developed into one of the better every-day players in the big
leagues."

Boston has been waiting for Nixon to break through since making
him its first-round draft pick in 1993, the year Baseball America
named him the best high school player in the country (ahead of
Alex Rodriguez). Nixon made the majors for good in '99 and spent
the past two seasons as a role player, gaining recognition for a
hard-nosed style that sends him crashing into outfield fences,
careering around the base paths and raging at himself when he
makes an out. He also emerged as one of the Red Sox' best clutch
performers and a fan favorite--Boston rooters relish the memory of
his game-winning, ninth-inning homer off Roger Clemens at Yankee
Stadium in May 2000.

His teammates became equally awed and amused by his linebacker's
demeanor. "You look at him now, and he's a completely different
person than he will be at 7:05," closer Derek Lowe said three
hours before a recent game. "No human can have his intensity all
day long."

"He can snap with the best of them," adds Daubach, as he
rummages through his locker in search of one of the DIRT DOG
T-shirts a friend of Nixon's made up, "but everything he does is
to help the team win."

COLOR PHOTO: RICH PILLING/MLB PHOTOS