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I Love the Red Sox I Hate the Yankees
By Jon Chattman, Allie Tarantino, Rich Tarantino
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2012 Jon Chattman, Allie Tarantino, and Rich Tarantino
All rights reserved.
Red Sox Moments We Love
What's the best thing about being a Sox fan? That sense of tradition and the family connection to the team that is passed down from generation to generation — borderline brainwashing. But hey, I'm brainwashing my kids all the time when it comes to what teams they're gonna like. — Ken Casey lead singer, Dropkick Murphys
Big or small or in-between, moments in Red Sox history are appreciated and emblazoned in the hearts of Red Sox Nation forever. It can be as monumental as singing away Pirates' World Series dreams in 1908 or as minor as greeting the aforementioned A-Rod with dumb-blonde masks at Fenway; you won't find a more loyal bunch of passionate fans than the Nation.
Sox Moments and the Nation go hand in hand. Fans will recount epic stories of Fisk flailing his hands for a ball to stay fair in 1975 as often as you'll hear them recall a big Rich Garces pivotal strikeout in a forgotten game. Moments are moments in Boston, but let's be honest, some are just so much bigger than the game.
Red Sox Nation celebrates World Series rings, sure, but also celebrates key moments in history that didn't end up with the gold. That's a difference between the Sawx and that other franchise with Jeter. While the Sox don't feel like they're entitled to a World Series win every year, Yankees fans — and the organization they go nuts over — do. The Yankees fans can't appreciate a good season unless it ends with the last win in October.
We all know the majority of Yankees fans: the ones who weren't rooting for them when Clay Parker was in the bullpen or "Pags" was at the hot corner. It's a fan who has only been a fan since the 1996, 1998–2000 run, who grew tired of the lack of titles in the 2000s, but came right back in 2009.
Many authentic Yankees fans (we mean the ones who became Yankees fans because their grandfathers used to take them to the old park) don't even like going to Yankee Stadium anymore because the new breed of fan is better represented there than they are. And let's not even talk about those insulting ticket prices, which keep the middle-class fan out of the ballpark. But we digress. Let's get back to those amazing moments where the Sox beat the odds, earned a few milestones, and made us forget about winning the whole damn thing — almost.
The First Five Titles
We Had a Dynasty, Too
The two leagues didn't agree upon the first "modern" World Series between Boston and the Pittsburgh Pirates until August of 1903. Leading up to the inaugural series, the Red Sox franchise then known as the Pilgrims used six pitchers on the season, five of whom pitched more than 175 innings. They were led by Cy Young, who won 28 of his career-record 511 during the regular season. Buck Freeman led Boston and the majors with 13 dead-ball home runs heading into the best-of-nine series against Honus Wagner and the Bucs. The "Flying Dutchman" hit .355 on the season but could only manage a .222 average against the "Cyclone" and the rest of the rubber-armed Boston rotation. Cy Young even managed to knock in the same amount of runs (3) as Wagner when he struck with a crushing Game 5 triple. While Yellow Fever was running rampant, this would be the start of an early 20th century Red Sox renaissance.
In a World Series that saw a tie game on account of darkness, the 1912 Red Sox won their second title in franchise history behind the pitching efforts of Smoky Joe Wood. Wood went 34–5 with 10 shutouts during the regular season, so it was no surprise that he would be victorious three times in the series against the formidable New York Giants. The Giants were three outs away until Fred Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball, setting up a Boston victory. The first season the Red Sox played in Fenway Park was memorable due in part to an offense that included Hall of Famers Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper as well as Red Sox stalwart Duffy Lewis.
A year after the Boston Braves swept the Philadelphia A's in the World Series, the Boston Red Sox needed just one extra game to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1915 Fall Classic. After falling to Phillies great Pete Alexander in Game 1, the Red Sox won four straight one-run games behind the pitching of Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Ernie Shore. The 1915 Series stands out for a couple of debuts: Woodrow Wilson became the first president to attend a game; and, more importantly, a 20-year-old named Babe Ruth pinch hit in his first postseason at-bat. While the Bambino would get just that one at-bat in picking up his first ring, it's most likely that almost 100 years later more kids know him than our 28th president.
The Red Sox accomplished their only back-to-back championship seasons when they defeated the Brooklyn Robins in 1916 with a five-game Series victory. Babe Ruth starred in Game 2, pitching all 14 innings in a 2–1 win. The Boston games took place at Braves Field, which held more people. Despite hitting .176 for the series, Larry Gardner led the team with two home runs and six RBIs. Future Yankees manager Casey Stengel batted .364 in the losing effort.
The soon-to-be cursed Red Sox won their fifth title in the now-infamous season of 1918. While most Yankees fans spent the better part of the late 1990s and early 2000s chanting, "Nineteen eighteen!" there is probably very little they can tell you about the team other than the fact that Babe Ruth pitched for them. As we all know, the Red Sox would take a 5–0 title lead over the Yankees only to see the Bombers rattle off 26 titles before Boston would win again. The Red Sox hit zero home runs and batted .186 in front of approximately 20,000 fans per game in the best-of-seven Series. You'd almost think the Curse was already in effect, but they were playing the Cubs, who were in the infancy of their current Series futility. Carl Mays and Babe Ruth each won two games, and the series remains the only Fall Classic to entirely take place in September due to wartime restrictions placed by the government. The Red Sox would win three series in four years, but eight-plus decades of frustration, heartache, and Yankees headaches was about to begin.
The Other DiMaggio Hit Streak
Watch them as they whirl, careen
Over the fields of verdant green
Rulers of the batting eye
Where the gaudy triples fly
In the sunset's shining glow
Who is it that steals the show?
Vincent, Dominic, and Joe
— Grantland Rice
Dom DiMaggio was the youngest of nine children, three of whom were successful major leaguers. Papa Giuseppe and Mama Rosalee must've been very proud to have raised three all-star center fielders. While Joe D. is well known for his Yankees exploits, marriage to Marilyn Monroe, and his hit streak, about 56 Yankees fans could tell you that the Boston Red Sox hit-streak record belongs to Joltin' Joe's bro, the "Little Professor." Coming in at a modest 34 games, the leadoff-hitting Dominic saw an ironic end to his streak in 1949 when the ball hit in his final at-bat landed in the mitt of the Yankee Clipper.
Dom DiMaggio batted .352 during the streak in a season in which the Red Sox finished one game behind the Yankees. On the streak, he told Alan Schwarz, "Hitting streaks didn't matter to me, even when I hit in another 27 in 1951. It's just a statistic. And the only statistic that matters to me is hitting .300." The youngest DiMaggio would finish his career at .298, as his streak goes by almost as unnoticed as Ted Williams' record of reaching first base safely in 84 consecutive games. The bespectacled Dom started as a right fielder in his rookie season of 1940, but he would quickly move to center field (a position he would only give up to serve the country during wartime). During his rookie campaign, he faced the Yanks and his older brother in a five-game series. The DiMaggios combined for 20 hits (11 from the Little Professor).
After returning from battle, the Sox reached the 1946 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. But Dom popped his hamstring reaching second on a double, and the Sox had to play a sub. As Red Sox luck would have it, the Cardinals' Enos Slaughter would score on his "mad dash" from first on a ball that would've been fielded by DiMaggio had he not been nursing his hammy. A seven-time All-Star and league leader in runs, triples, and steals, Dom never embarrassed the DiMaggio name.
DiMaggio has remained a borderline Cooperstown Hall of Famer but in 1978 was inducted into the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, followed by induction into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. DiMaggio lived to the age of 92 and, in his post-retirement days, led a group that would eventually evolve into the Baseball Players Union. As a successful businessman, he formed a group that attempted to purchase the Red Sox when Tom Yawkey passed away in 1976. While Ted Williams' 84-consecutive games reaching base and Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak may be untouchable, the Little Professor's achievements, while approachable, were clearly significant. But Dom DiMaggio's legacy has been ensured in a "Teammates" statue with fellow West Coasters turned Red Sox (Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr) located at Gate B of Fenway (the intersection of Van Ness and Ipswich Streets).
Imagine if the Little Red Riding Hood got eaten, Sleeping Beauty never woke up, and Snow White's prince was a no-show. That's essentially how it felt when the fairy tale season of 1967 ended with the Sox losing to the Cardinals in the World Series 4–3 after an improbable, "impossible dream" run. Even so, that memorable season remains one of the most, if not the most, impressive teams ever, considering the Sox were expected to dwell near the cellar as they had for the previous seven seasons.
Following two atrocious seasons — 1965 and 1966 — in which Boston lost 100 and 90 games, respectively, fans treated Fenway like a Taco Bell bathroom: staying away to avoid another stinker. With just one marketable player in Carl Yastrzemski, new manager Dick Williams was assigned to make the most of a team of never-weres, and did he ever. The tough-as-nails manager preached fundamentals and powered his team to overachieve and remain in the playoff hunt all season long.
Much to major league baseball's and the fans' surprise, the headline-free Sox made headlines and rocked the baseball world thanks to a career year from Yaz and breakthrough seasons from others. Aside from Captain Carl, who put up a Triple Crown/MVP year with 44 homers and 121 RBIs, the Sox got a whole lot of hits from fan favorites Rico Petrocelli and Tony Conigliaro, the latter of whom had his season tragically cut short in August. (Conigliaro was hit by a pitch in the cheekbone, and suffered severe damage to it and his retina.) Perhaps the biggest surprise was pitcher "Gentleman" Jim Lonborg, who dominated AL hitting more than shoulder pads did women's jackets in the 1980s, and came out of nowhere to become the first Sox star to win the Cy Young Award.
Even more impressive than individual stats was how the Sox managed to rise above the pack despite injuries and military-related departures to stay in the thick of a five-team race (White Sox, Twins, Tigers, and Angels) down the stretch. The hearts of Fenway faithful, who broke attendance records that season, must've been in their throats when the final weekend of the season came down to three teams (White Sox, Twins, and Tigers) competing with the Sox for the top spot. Yes, there was no Selig wildcard here, so whoever finished first won the pennant and went directly to the Series. By the time the last day arrived, the White Sox were out, the Tigers fell to the Angels, and Lonborg pitched the Sox to a series sweep of the Twins to take the pennant. They didn't win the Series until 2004, but the "improbables" of 1967 deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those "idiots."
A Game 6 to Remember
At 12:34 am, in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7–6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series. — Peter Gammons, Boston Globe
GNR's Chinese Democracy aside, some things are worth waiting for. Game 6 of the 1975 Fall Classic sure was for Sox fans. With three rainy-day delays, momentum shifted back to the Sox, who were down to the mighty Cincinnati Reds three games to two. With ace Luis Tiant back on the mound, the Sox were pumped up and ready to take down the Big Red Machine. But El Tiante wasn't the story on that breezy October 21 evening at Fenway. In one of the best games ever played in the World Series or anywhere (MLB Network considers it No. 1 of all-time), the Sox — in a must-win game — defeated the Reds in an epic 12-inning game.
In a game that had it all — more ups and downs than John Travolta's career and more exciting highlights than the entire 2008–2011 seasons, the Sox overcame George Foster's go-ahead two-run double in the seventh thanks to Bernie Carbo's game-tying three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth. By the bottom of the ninth, it seemed the Sox would force a Game 7 when they loaded the bases with no out. But Denny Doyle got thrown out at the plate following a shallow fly ball (third-base coach Don Zimmer — yes, him — alleged he had said "No no no" not "Go go go") to help kill the rally. In the 11th, Joe Morgan nearly sucked the life out of the crowd when he smashed a shot that Dwight Evans leaped up and somehow grabbed.
All of this set the stage for 12th-inning heroics by one of the most reliable Sox players of all-time. With Pat Darcy on the mound, Carlton Fisk drove a 1–0 pitch deep to left field, striking the foul pole right over the Green Monster. Captured on television and replayed forever after, Fisk waved his arms repeatedly to the right to try to will the ball to stay fair, as he jumped along the first-base line. The ball stayed fair, and the Sox lived to play another game. Sure, they would fall to the Reds in heartbreaking fashion in Game 7, but nothing can take away what Fisk and the team accomplished the night before.
Bruno's Out-of-This-World Catch
During his major league career, right fielder Tom Brunansky was known more for his slugging (271 career home runs) than for his fielding (62 errors). Yet on October 3, 1990, "Bruno's" ninth-inning, game-saving, season-preserving catch earned him a place in Red Sox immortality. If you are a Red Sox Nation member in your late twenties, this snag of White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen's line drive may have been your introduction to forthcoming great Red Sox moments. Earlier in the season, Boston received Brunansky in a trade for All-Star reliever Lee Smith. Bruno would hit 15 home runs in just under 130 games, but his future "web gem" was yet to come. With Jeff Reardon on the hill and two outs on the books, a scrawny Sammy Sosa singled to center. Reardon then plunked Scott Fletcher, putting the tying run on first. The Toronto Blue Jays were in hot pursuit, and they suddenly became the biggest Guillen fans in the world and Canada. He sliced a liner to right field, where Brunansky made his heroic dive, which was followed by a Fenway eruption of division-winning joy. The win would be the last of the season for the Sox, who were swept in the ALCS by the A's (who coincidentally were swept in the 1990 World Series by the Reds). However, in 2010 the sliding catch was entered into the Red Sox Hall of Fame Memorable Moments, preserving its place in Sox lore forever.
Pedro and Teddy Ballgame Shine in '99
In July of 1999 Fenway Park hosted Major League Baseball's All-Star Game for the third time. Despite being held smack dab in what would eventually be known as "the Steroid Era," Pedro Martinez was in the midst of one of the all-time greatest seasons ever for a pitcher. But more on him later. ... Ted Williams was in the house, and Boston hearts were ready to be warmed. Assisted by one of the greatest hitters of the 1990s, Tony Gwynn, "the Splendid Splinter" made his final Fenway appearance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game. All-Stars gathered around and honored "Teddy Ballgame," who stole the show and gave a fitting memory to Red Sox fans of the pending century.
Excerpted from I Love the Red Sox I Hate the Yankees by Jon Chattman, Allie Tarantino, Rich Tarantino. Copyright © 2012 Jon Chattman, Allie Tarantino, and Rich Tarantino. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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