SEATTLE — Dwight Evans remembers getting the call. In 1972, he was a 20-year-old outfielder, finishing up the Triple A playoffs with Louisville, when he got word that the Red Sox wanted him to report to Yankee Stadium and be part of the late-season pennant race.
“I got the call in early September,’’ Evans said Tuesday in a phone interview from his home north of Boston. “They told me to meet them in Yankee Stadium.
“I got there early and there was no one at the ballpark and I started walking around by myself. I remember walking to the outfield. There were just a few ground crew guys and people cleaning the stands.
“I remember looking at all those monuments. Gehrig. Ruth. Mantle. DiMaggio. Yogi. It just took me back.
“A couple of weeks later, we were playing in Baltimore and I was facing Dave McNally or Mike Cuellar. Bases loaded, two out. I hit a bullet line drive, one-hopper, in the hole between short and third.
“I started running to first, saying, ‘All right!’ And then I heard the crowd and I looked over and saw Reggie Smith getting forced out at second. Somehow, Brooks Robinson had gloved the ball and fired to second from his knees. That was my official welcome to the big leagues.’’
Red Sox minor league outfielder Andrew Benintendi got the call Monday. The major league trading deadline had passed, and the Sox had not acquired any outfield help, so they made a call to Double A Portland, where the 22-year-old Benintendi was summoned for the final two months of the 2016 pennant race.
Dwight Evans has been there. He played 18 games for the Red Sox in the September pennant chase of ’72. He hit .263 with 6 RBIs and an OPS of .747. He got his first big league hit off Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry and hit his first big league homer off Baltimore’s Eddie Watt. The Sox stayed in the chase until the final series in Detroit, where they were eliminated on the next-to-last day of the season.
Here’s what Dewey has to say to young Andrew, who is going to the bigs without spending a day in Triple A:
“Congratulations. This is deserved. Have as much fun as you can. Be yourself. Don’t try to do more than Andrew does. Just stay in your place. Same approach. Don’t try to do more because you’re in the big leagues.
“You’re in the big leagues because you made adjustments as you came up so quickly. Coming from Single A to Double A, it looked like you were trying to do more. You struggled at first. Then you got to your old style and trusted your talent, and that’s what you’ve got to do now.
“You’ve got all the tools. You were a No. 1 draft pick for a reason.’’
In his capacity as a player development consultant for the Red Sox, Evans has observed Benintendi, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“Watching him in spring training, you see that he’s not a player of big stature [5 feet 10 inches], but he does everything perfectly,” said Evans. “He’s a wonderful center fielder. He’ll grow on you.
“I like the extension of his bat, his timing. He runs well. He does everything well. He struggled a little bit at first in Portland, but has adjusted well. He’s a wonderful player.’’
Evans had had a year of Triple A experience when he got the call to the majors, but he was two years younger than Boston’s 2016 phenom.
“I didn’t get to play in Yankee Stadium in my series,” said Evans, “but we went home and [manager] Eddie Kasko put me in right field and I made a nice play in right-center, diving. I caught it in the sun and I got a standing ovation, which really took me back.
“I came to the plate and over-swung and popped it up. I got my first hit the next day, off Gaylord Perry. A line drive high off the Wall in left. It would have been a homer in any other park. That was my introduction to the Wall.
“Overall, the pitching in the big leagues wasn’t that much different. It was finer. Control and changing speeds was much better.
“The veteran players were all good to me. It was old school. Yaz and Reggie Smith were really good to me. They’d take me out to dinner. Being 20 years old, that meant a lot.
“This wasn’t like today when they’ll fly your parents in. It wasn’t like that then. I wish it was. My parents were on the West Coast. But it was just me, alone in New York.
“It was fun to be in that environment and a great experience for me. It was big and I knew it was big. I loved being in that moment.’’
This is the moment for Andrew Benintendi.