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Changing the Culture
When the term "changing the culture" is applied to a sports team, it refers to the transforming of that particular franchise from a losing organization into a winning one. The 1967 Red Sox are the watershed team for that term; everything they have become today began with the Impossible Dream.
However, changing the culture of the Boston Red Sox meant far more than simply learning to win; it meant changing their societal fabric. The Red Sox were the last team to integrate. The reasons for that have been speculated upon for years. Some say it was Tom Yawkey's Southern roots, while others point to his general managers, Eddie Collins and Joe Cronin, both of whom watched Jackie Robinson try out for the team on April 16, 1945. Integration did come about under Yawkey's ownership, albeit years later.
What cannot be denied is that Mike Higgins was in the way of integration. Named the manager in 1955, Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette and others often heard Higgins say, "There will be no niggers on this team as long as I'm the manager." In fact, "Monbo" and Higgins almost came to blows over this very matter in the early years of the pitcher's career. Higgins's first tenure as Red Sox manager came to an end exactly 19 days before "Pumpsie" Green made his debut in a Red Sox uniform. A week later, Green was joined by Earl Wilson, a black pitcher who had toiled in the Red Sox farm system since 1953.
Although Higgins would later return, it was during Dick O'Connell's first tenure as general manager that the Red Sox had signed George Scott and drafted Reggie Smith and Joe Foy. All three of these young black players played significant roles in the story of the Impossible Dream. There were other additions as well, as Rico Petrocelli, Mike Andrews, Dalton Jones, and Tony Conigliaro were signed out of high school, changing the fabric of the Red Sox into a vibrant group of talented young baseball players, several of whom were black.
Dick O'Connell had changed the culture in more ways than one, and the payoff was five years away.
From left to right, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Mike Higgins, Rip Russell, and Rudy York await the start of the 1946 World Series. A fringe player on the 1946 team, Higgins went on to have a profound influence on 20 years of Red Sox futility. Pesky managed the team in 1963 and 1964, and York was a coach from 1959 through 1962. (Courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
Bobby Doerr (1) welcomes Ted Williams home following a home run in 1940. Doerr joined Dick Williams's coaching staff in 1967. Recognized as the unofficial captain of the 1946 pennant-winning team, Doerr brought that same quiet, dignified leadership to the 1967 squad of kids, proving to be an immeasurable force in their success. (Courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
Tom Yawkey (above) bought the Red Sox in 1933. From then until 1958, the day-to-day operations of the team were in the hands of Joe Cronin (below, left) and Eddie Collins (below, right). Collins was the general manager from 1933 until 1947, while Cronin was the player manager from 1935 to 1947 and then the general manager from 1948 to 1958. In April 1945, the Red Sox held a tryout for Negro League players Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Marvin Williams. This came about as a result of Boston city councilman Isadore Muchnik pledging to veto a Red Sox request for a permit to play on Sundays unless they afforded Negro Leaguers an opportunity to play on their team. None of the players were signed. (Below, courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
The association between Joe Cronin (above, left) and Mike Higgins (above, right and at left) began when Cronin acquired Higgins as a player in 1937. After playing for two years with the Red Sox, Higgins went on to a very successful playing career with the Tigers and Athletics before returning to the Red Sox for his final year in 1946. Upon his retirement, he managed in the Red Sox minor league system until 1955, when he was named Boston's manager. While the pressure mounted for the Red Sox to integrate, it did not occur until both Higgins and Cronin were out of their positions of power. Higgins returned as a manager (1960–1962) and general manager (1963–1965). He died of a heart attack in 1968. (Above, courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
"Pumpsie" Green became the first black player for the Red Sox when he was called up from Minneapolis on July 21, 1959. Seen above with manager Billy Jurgis on that day in the Comiskey Park dugout, the reluctant trailblazer became the first black player to wear a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park two weeks later, on August 4, when he led off and played second base against the Kansas City Athletics. In his first at bat, he tripled off the left-field wall. The number three hitter for Kansas City that night was third baseman Dick Williams. A week later, Earl Wilson (at right) joined Green in Cleveland, where he and shortstop Jim Mahoney made their Major League debuts. The team that had passed on both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays had finally become the last team to integrate.
Ted Williams played for the Red Sox from 1939 (above) until 1960 (left). A four-time MVP, two-time Triple Crown winner, six-time batting champ, and four-time home run and RBI champ, he played on only one pennant winner. The Red Sox forsook opportunities to sign Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Willie Mays. There is little doubt that the Red Sox teams of the 1950s would have raised a pennant or two with these three plus Williams and Bobby Doerr in their lineup. When Williams left in 1960, the Red Sox entered a bleak period the likes of which they had not seen since the pre-Yawkey days. Interestingly, Williams's speech at his National Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1966 paved the way for the election of Negro League players to Cooperstown. (Above, courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
In 1961, the highly touted Carl Yastrzemski arrived at Fenway Park. Signing for $108,000 in 1958, the 21-year-old was saddled with the daunting task of replacing Ted Williams in left field. He once commented that nothing he experienced in baseball compared with living through the pressure of replacing one of baseball's all-time greats.
In 1961, Don Schwall became the second Red Sox player to be named American League Rookie of the Year. The only Red Sox player named to the 1961 all-star team, he struck out Stan Musial in the game, which was played at Fenway Park. Schwall remains the only Red Sox pitcher to win Rookie of the Year honors. The honor earned him this Post cereal box baseball card in 1962.
Despite finishing the 1962 campaign in eighth place, bright spots surfaced in the otherwise bleak season. Pete Runnels won the batting title, and rookie Dick Radatz led the league in saves. However, no lights shone brighter than Earl Wilson (above, left) and Bill Monboquette (right), who pitched no-hitters 36 days apart from each other. Each received a $1,000 bonus from owner Tom Yawkey, and they were also honored in a September ceremony, along with Rudy York, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Cronin of the 1946 pennant-winning squad. Seen below are, from left to right, announcer Curt Gowdey, York, Cronin (who was the American League president), Monbouquette, Doerr, and Wilson. (Both, courtesy of Boston Public Library.)
At right, Earl Wilson fires the final pitch of his no-hitter on June 26, 1962, at Fenway. He made history, becoming the first black pitcher in the American League to throw a no-hitter. He is also one of only three pitchers to homer while hurling a no-hitter. The Red Sox beat the Angels 2-0 in the game. Monbouquette pitched his no-hitter on August 1 against the White Sox in Comiskey Park. Only a second-inning walk to Al Smith kept him from a perfect game. He is seen below getting mobbed on the field following the game. From left to right are Earl Wilson, catcher Jim Pagliaroni, an elated "Monbo," and Don Gile, surrounded by three security guards. The Red Sox beat Chicago 1-0 in the game.
Nun's Day was an annual event at Fenway Park in the early 1960s. Here, in July 1961, catcher Jim Pagliaroni chats with a couple of the Sisters of St. Joseph. "Pags" made his Major League debut at 17 and was the Red Sox regular catcher in 1960, 1961, and 1962. He passed away in 2011, and his two good friends Don Schwall and Don Gile paid tribute to him at Fenway Park's catcher's box during Fenway's 100th birthday celebration.
In 1964, Tony Conigliaro (right) arrived at the same time as another Tony, Tony Oliva (left). While Oliva was the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year, "Tony C.," a local kid, was an instant Fenway favorite. He homered in his first Fenway Park at bat, and in 1965, he became the youngest player to lead the league in home runs.
On opening day 1964, the Red Sox donated all proceeds to the John F. Kennedy Library. Seen here on the field for the national anthem are, from left to right, Eunice Kennedy Schriver, Attorney Gen. Robert Kennedy, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Visible Red Sox uniformed players are, from left to right, Dick Radatz, Ed Bressoud, Pete Charleton (15), and Bill Monbouquette (27). Between Ted Kennedy and Radatz is Red Sox utility player Dick Williams, with his head bowed.
In 1965, there was little to cheer about on the baseball field. However, these three members of the Red Sox squad honed their bubble gum-blowing skills. From left to right, Dennis Bennett, Tony Conigliaro, and Jim Lonborg blow bubbles while watching the pregame activities before the Jimmy Fund game on July 26, 1965.
On September 16, 1965, in front of 1,247 fans at Fenway Park, Dave Moorhead threw a no-hitter against Cleveland. In this photograph, he is looking for the ground ball Vic Davilillo hit off of him for the final out. Mike Higgins was fired as the general manager after the game, grabbing the headlines from the 22-yearold right-hander.
As a naval intelligence officer in World War II, Dick O'Connell (left, with Tom Yawkey) was an architect in the planning of all Pacific invasions. A Bronze Star recipient, he was later the architect of the 1967 Impossible Dream. He is considered one of the greatest general managers in Red Sox history. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)CHAPTER 2
The Cardiac Kids
There were 39 players who saw action in a Red Sox uniform in 1967. Of those, 21 were position players and 18 were pitchers. The oldest player was Elston Howard, at 38, and the youngest was Ken Brett, who made his debut on September 27, days after his 19th birthday. There were nine rookies on the team, six of whom made their Major League debuts and one who played his entire Major League career in the span of 11 days.
The position players ranged from Carl Yastrzemski, George Scott, and Reggie Smith, who played in virtually every game and each had over 600 at bats, to Jim Landis and Ken Poulsen, who played in five games each and batted a combined total of 12 times. On the mound, Jim Lonborg anchored the staff, hurling 273 innings, while the aforementioned Ken Brett threw just two innings. There were five rookies who took to the hill, with four of them making their inaugural appearance.
In a pennant race in which four teams were within one game of each other with five games left in the season, there was no such thing as a minor contribution. Each play, each at bat, indeed each pitch, contributed to the miracle season. There has never been a year in baseball where the adage "a win in April is as important as a win in September" was more true.
The average age on the team was 26.3 years, the youngest average age since the days of Babe Ruth. That, coupled with the fact that they came from behind in 42 of their 92 victories, earned them the nickname the Cardiac Kids. It is apropos that they have not fielded a younger team since.
The Cardiac Kids and the veteran catcher posed for this photograph. They are, from left to right, (kneeling) Joe Foy, Rico Petrocelli, Mike Andrews, and George Scott; (standing) Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Reggie Smith, and Elston Howard. The average age of the eight position players who played the most was 23.75 years. The 38-year-old Howard was acquired in August, and 27-yearold Yaz was the old man of the regulars. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
Jim Lonborg (left) became the superstar ace of the staff, going 22-9; leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and starts; and winning the 1967 Cy Young Award. Ken "Hawk" Harrelson was signed by the Red Sox on August 28 after a public disagreement with Kansas City owner Charlie Finley had led to his release. They are seen here sharing a moment after Game 5 of the World Series.
Five players caught games for the 1967 Red Sox, three of whom are seen here. From left to right are Bob Tillman, Russ Gibson, Gerry Moses, and Mike Ryan. Moses spent 1967 in the minors, local kid Ryan caught the most games, and Gibson, another local product, was a 28-year-old rookie. Ryan's brother Steve spent 1967 serving in Vietnam. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
John Wyatt (center) was the primary closer. Allegedly proficient with a "Vaseline ball," he went 10-7 with a 2.60 ERA and 20 saves. "Bucky" Brandon (right) earned the number-two spot in the starting rotation but was plagued with arm trouble. They are seen here celebrating with Yaz after a 3-2 win against the Twins in May in which Yaz homered twice and Wyatt saved a Brandon win.
Jose Santiago (left) and Dennis Bennett were both on the trading block in late May. Bennett had some good outings, but his fun-loving attitude did not mesh with Dick Williams. Bennett was traded, but Santiago turned into Mr. Versatility, appearing in 50 games, 11 of them as a starter. He was 12-4 with five saves, and in August and September, he went 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA, including two complete-game September wins.
Galen Cisco played football at Ohio State under legendary coach Woody Hayes, playing in the 1958 Rose Bowl. He signed with the Red Sox out of college and pitched in 1961 and 1962 before being claimed off waivers by the Mets. He rejoined Boston in 1966. He pitched 22 innings in 1967 and had one save against Detroit — his contribution to the Impossible Dream. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
Tony Horton (at right) was a Red Sox bonus baby who made his debut at age 19 in 1964. Filled with promise, his career was cut short by emotional difficulties, and he was out of baseball by the age of 25. He batted 39 times for the 1967 team, with 12 hits and 9 RBI. Don Demeter (below) was acquired by the Red Sox in a 1966 trade with the Tigers for Earl Wilson. A journeyman utility player, he played in 20 games, hitting .279 with one home run and four RBI. He made significant offensive contributions in early wins against the Twins and Tigers. On June 4, Horton and Demeter were traded to the Indians for pitcher Gary Bell.
An invaluable contributor, Dalton Jones spelled Joe Foy at third base and Mike Andrews at second base throughout the year. The team's primary pinch hitter, he hit .277 in that role, with nine RBI and five runs scored. Impressed with his clutch play, Dick Williams had him in the lineup for four World Series games, and he delivered, hitting .389, including a pinch-hit single in Game 6. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
A 22-year-old Albert "Sparky" Lyle made his debut on July 4 and became a key contributor out of the bullpen. He was 1-2 with five saves and a 2.28 ERA on the season. He would go on to twice lead the American League in saves and win the Cy Young Award in 1977. Unfortunately, he did that with the Yankees. (Courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
Billy Rohr (right) and Russ Gibson (below) made their Major League debuts on the same day, April 14, 1967, with Rohr pitching and Gibson catching. Rohr was a 21-year-old phenom with blinding stuff, and Gibson was a 28-year-old catcher who had spent 10 years in the minor leagues. The pair made history that day, as Rohr came within one out of being the first and only pitcher to pitch a no-hitter in his big league debut. In later years, when Gibson was asked about catching Rohr's near-no-hitter, the former catcher came up with a standard line that Rohr found particularly amusing: "Yea he pitched a pretty good game but screw him, I went two for four against Whitey Ford." They forged a lifelong friendship until the death of "Gibby" in 2008. (Right, courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.)
George Thomas appeared in 65 games, had 89 at bats, and hit .213 with one home run and six RBI, yet his contribution to the Impossible Dream was truly immeasurable. The quintessential clubhouse guy, his sense of humor, good nature, and ability to read the team went a long way in keeping everyone loose and relaxed through the tension of the pennant race. He played five different positions in 1967.
In early June, Gary Bell (left) was acquired from the Indians, Jerry Adair (center) was acquired from the White Sox, and Gary Waslewski (right) was called up from the Red Sox AAA team in Toronto. Adair proved invaluable as a utility infielder, hitting .291 while playing third base, shortstop, and second base. Bell went 12-8 as the third man in the rotation, and Waslewski impressed enough to start the sixth game of the World Series.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "1967 Red Sox"
Copyright © 2014 Raymond Sinibaldi.
Excerpted by permission of Arcadia Publishing.
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Table of Contents
1. Changing the Culture,
2. The Cardiac Kids,
3. The Season,
4. The Last Weekend,
5. The Series Nobody Lost,
6. Yaz, Lonnie, and the Legacy,