Originally created 05/08/99

Vaughn comes back to Fenway



BOSTON -- Mo Vaughn stood in a strange place -- on the top step of the visitor's dugout, some 350 feet from the left-field wall that was his frequent target.

After eight seasons and 230 homers for Boston, he returned to Fenway Park on Friday night for the first time in an enemy uniform.

"It's nice to be back," the Anaheim Angels' first baseman said before his first game against Boston. "I had a lot of great years here, and the fans were behind me 100 percent."

Management, however, wasn't, and that led to his departure after last season, even though he hit 40 homers and was second in the AL with a .337 batting average.

He wasn't about to criticize his former bosses. In fact, Red Sox chief executive officer John Harrington spoke with Vaughn before the game even though he wasn't willing to pay enough money to keep his best player.

"He just said, `Congratulations,' and he hoped that I was happy," said Vaughn, who got an $80 million, six-year contract from Anaheim. "It was definitely a nice gesture. He didn't have to do that. It was good to just talk man to man and forget about all the things in the past."

The front office wasn't happy with Vaughn's outspoken nature. And when he was charged in a drunk driving case after his vehicle was involved in a Jan. 9, 1998, accident, the club wasn't pleased -- even though he was found innocent.

When the team had an exclusive 15-day period to sign him after last season, it chose not to. So on Thanksgiving Eve, Vaughn accepted Anaheim's offer.

"When I made the decision to move on, it was behind me," he said.

He said he has no animosity toward the Red Sox. He was more concerned with trying to hit against Pedro Martinez, who is off to an outstanding start with a 5-1 record.

"That's not easy," Vaughn said. "I've got nothing to prove to the Boston Red Sox or anybody out there. I just want to get on the field. I've only been out there about 2« weeks and really not strong like I want to be.

"But I'm not out here to embarrass anybody, to make anybody look bad," he added. "I'm not going to point in the stands. I'm not going to do anything like that. I'm just going to play my game like I always have. You try to channel your emotions and just really do what you've got to do, try not to put too much weight on it."

Vaughn sprained his ankle in Anaheim's opening game and went on the disabled list. On the first pitch he saw in his first game back on April 22, he hit a homer at Toronto.

He entered Friday's game hitting .278 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 15 games.

While the Red Sox were taking batting practice, Vaughn chatted with Boston manager Jimy Williams, embraced former teammate Mike Stanley and shared a laugh with John Valentin, his ex-teammate at Seton Hall and with the Red Sox.

"Being friends is something off the field," Stanley said. "I'll try to beat his pitcher, and he'll try to beat our pitcher."