The Boston Red Sox

Team History

The Boston Red Sox are one of the charter members of the American League. They enjoy one of the most storied histories and some of the most devoted fans in all of sports. One can start the tale of the Red Sox back in 1903, when Cy Young helped them beat Pittsburgh, the National League Champion, in the first ever World Series. The Red Sox would go on to win the American League Pennant Nine more times, and the World Series Four more times. (Some argue five, as the 1904 NL Champion New York Giants, and their AL-hating manager, John McGraw, refused to play Boston in the World Series.)

The last Championship, however, was in 1918. Babe Ruth won two games and led the Red Sox in RBI as they beat Chicago, which had not won since 1908. Ironically enough, they still haven't. Ruth would go on to break the world record in Home Runs the next year with 29. At the end of the season, Boston owner Harry Frazee, a Broadway producer, sold Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan to finance one of his plays. This proved to be one of the worst transactions in Red Sox history. Ruth would break his own record the next season with 54 home runs, and eventually set the record at 60. He went on to set the all-time home run record with 714 and lead New York to seven pennants and four Championships.

Boston would not return to the World Series until 1946, led by the hitting of the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. The Kid is regarded along with Ruth as the greatest hitter of all time (although no one would tell him that Ruth is up there with him!) He was second in the league that year in Average, Homers, and RBI, while he was first in total bases, Slugging, Walks and Runs scored. He was named MVP, which he also won in '49. However, he was met in the World Series by the NL Champs, the Cardinals, and the NL MVP, Stan "The Man" Musial. Musial's fame continues today, as the highest compliment one can receive nowadays is "You're the Man!" Thus elevating one to Musial's level. The Series was won by the Cardinals; Enos Slaughter raced home as Johnny Pesky held on to the ball to win game seven.

Boston again waited a long time to return to the World Series; it wasn't until the Impossible Dream Sox of 1967 that they would have another shot at breaking Babe Ruth's Curse. This time, they were again led by a Hall of Fame Leftfielder. This one was also an MVP, Carl Yastrzemski. He also won the Triple Crown, leading the league with a .326 Batting Average, 44 Homers and 121 RBI. He is the last player (through 1994) to win the triple crown. The Red Sox were expected to equal their dismal (72-90) record of a year before, but instead turned the league on its head with a dazzling 92-70 record. Wouldn't you know, it though? Bob Gibson, a fireballing righthander for St. Louis, again shut down the Red Sox, allowing only three runs in 27 innings as he pitched three complete game victories.

Yastrzemski was joined by Dwight Evans, Carlton Fisk and Freddie Lynn and in 1975 they took another shot at history. They won 95 games in the regular season and then three more in the League championship series, sweeping Oakland. They met Cincinnati for one of the most exciting Series ever. Boston swamped Cincy, 6-0 in game one, but Johnny Bench and Dave Concepcion scored in the ninth inning to win game 2, 3-2. Game three was very exciting, as Dwight Evans hit a two run homer in the ninth to tie the game at 5, only to have the Reds rally and score in the bottom of the tenth to take a 2-1 series lead. Luis Tiant threw an amazing 163 pitches in game four as the Sox won to square the series. Tony Perez was so excited that he exploded in the next game, hitting two home runs. The 6-2 victory pushed the Reds to the brink of victory. Game Six was one to remember. The Red Sox were down to their last game and trailed 6-3 in the eighth inning. Bernie Carbo pinch-hit with two men on base. He hit a tremendous home run to centerfield to tie the game at six. The game stayed that way until the twelfth, When Carlton Fisk fit one of the most dramatic home runs of all time off the foul pole in left, tying the series at three games apiece. The next game was heartbreaking, as the Reds overcame a 3-0 deficit and broke a 3-3 tie with Joe Morgan's RBI single in the ninth with two out. It was Cincinnati's first win since 1940, but the Red Sox had suffered longer and once again felt the sting of The Curse.

The Red Sox came very close in 1978, but watched a late season lead evaporate as the Yankees stormed back to tie them on the last day of the season. A one-game playoff was won by Bucky Dent's (corked, as was later discovered) Three run homer. Yastrzemski would retire five years later, having thrice failed to break the Curse.

The Red Sox' latest chance at redemption came in 1986, When AL Cy Young winner and MVP Roger Clemens powered the Red Sox to 95 wins and a playoff date with the California Angels. The Angels jumped to a 3-1 series lead, and was one strike away from going to the World Series in Game five when Dave Henderson hit a two-run homer to tie the game. He added a sacrifice fly in the eleventh to win the game. The Sox proceeded to take games six and seven and advance to the World Series against the New York Mets. The first four games were split, the first two going to Boston and the next two to New York. Game five was expected to be a pitcher's duel, Hurst versus Gooden, but the Red Sox got to Gooden and won, 4-2. The Sox continued playing well, rallying for two runs in the top of the tenth inning of game six. Calvin Schiraldi got the first two men out in the bottom of the inning, and had two strikes on Met hitters twice, but they got hits. Bob Stanley relieved Schiraldi and allowed another hit before throwing a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score. Mookie Wilson's ground ball then bounced through First Baseman Bill Buckner's legs to allow Gary Carter to score the winning run. Boston seemed to shake this off as they took a 3-0 lead to the sixth in game seven, but New York scored eight runs in the last three frames and won, 8-5. The disappointment was the harshest ever for Red Sox fans, as Frazee's descendants moved to California.

The Red Sox have thrice reached the postseason since then, winning the American League East in 1988, 1990 and 1995, only to get swept all three times; twice by the Oakland A's and once by the Cleveland Indians. The Sox seem (to me) poised once more to enter the postseason this year, but only time can tell if the Sox are ready to break a 78-year Curse...

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