After the Red Sox won the 1918 World Series, the Fenway Faithful waited 28 years before hoisting another American League pennant. After the 1946 AL Champs raised their flag it was another 21 years before they got to do it again. They came close in 1972, collapsed in 1974 but in the midst of that collapse, these two kids arrived from Pawtucket.
Fred Lynn hit .419 in just 22 September games and Jim Rice showed power that despite the disappointment of the collapse, had the Fenway Faithful excited as they couldn’t “wait till next year.” Spring training 1975 brought with it, hope!
These two rookies joined a team which included, Carlton Fisk behind the plate, Rick Burleson “the Rooster” at short, Rico Petrocelli, the 1967 shortstop, had moved over to third, the ageless wonder “Yaz” had moved to first base, a 23-year-old Dwight Evans was in right and Denny Doyle who was acquired from the Angels in June, took over at second base. The “Goldust Twins” of Lynn and Rice were in center and left respectively and they comprised a rookie tandem, the likes of which Fenway Park had never seen.
The pitching staff was anchored by Luis Tiant who just two years earlier had been written off but was a 20 game winner in 1973 and 74. The rotation included Bill Lee, Rick Wise and Reggie Cleveland with Dick Pole and Rogilio Moret splitting duties as the fifth starter.
The closer was Dick Drago who had eight saves the last month of the seasons and saved two of the three wins in the AL Championship series.
On June 29th the Red Sox beat the Yankees and Jim “Catfish” Hunter in a come from behind 3-2 win that put them in first place by a half game. They never again trailed and when they reeled off 10 straight wins in early July, they stretched the lead to 6 1/2 games.
They clinched the AL East with four games to go and then swept the three-time defending champion Oakland A’s in the ALCS setting the stage for what still is often referred to as the greatest World Series in baseball history, the Boston Red Sox versus Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine.
The 1975 World Series for the ages opened up at Fenway Park. It was a 0-0 game in the bottom half of the seventh inning with Luis Tiant and Don Gullett locked in the scoreless duel. Tiant and Boston prevailed 6-0 with Luis not only hurling the shutout but singling and scoring the games first run.
The next three games were decided by one run and when the Reds took game five 6-2 at Riverfront Stadium the Red Sox were on the brink of elimination. The Series shifted to Fenway Park for what Red Sox fans now simply refer to as Game Six!
It ended with Carlton Fisk hitting the foul pole to win it in the bottom of the twelfth, 7-6 and tie the Series.
And in between there was,
Fred Lynn in a heap at the base of the wall in the fifth inning following his attempt to catch Ken Griffey’s (Daddy) triple. It was this near disaster which led to padding on the outfield wall.
Bernie Carbo’s pinch hit three run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 6-6.
Denny Doyle being thrown out at home by George Foster in the bottom of the tenth with what would have been the winning run.
Dwight Evans catch robbing Joe Morgan of a home run in the top of the eleventh inning and then…..
The Reds won the following night and were crowned World Champs. Five of the seven games in the Series were decided by one run and the 1975 World Series restored baseball to its rightful position as America’s Pastime. The winner’s share was $19,060.45 while the Red Sox pocketed $13,325.86 each. Last year the MLB Network called Game Six the Greatest Game Ever Played, take five minutes and tip toe back thirty-seven years and have fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmRC3RwZNmU
A month later, Fred Lynn became the first player in major league history to be named Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.
And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, 1975, World Series time.