Remember the ad campaign a few years back, “chicks dig the long ball”? It came about in the late 1990s and it was a Nike ad. It featured Mark McGwire, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox with the lovely Heather Locklear. Locklear was paying all her attention to McGwire and all his home runs and ignoring the Cy Young award winners Maddux and Glavine.
Those of you who read this blog know that I’m an aficionado of the pitchers duel. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the homer however nothing beats baseball when every pitch means something. I’ve written about Fenway pitching accomplishments, 16 plus strikeout games, no-hitters etc. Today I thought I’d give some love to the long ball and also do my first interactive, so here goes.
What is the most home runs the Red Sox have ever hit in a game at Fenway Park? What do you think? I’ll give you a hint. The names of the guys involved were Lynn, Scott, Rice, Carbo, Hobson and Yastrzemski.
Freddy Lynn hit two home runs in the Red Sox record-setting homer game.
And another hint, Yankee Doodle Dandy. The names tell you it was probably the 1970s and you are correct but Yankee Doodle Dandy? A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam born when? That’s right it was July 4th 1977 and the Toronto Blue Jays were at Fenway Park. The Sox were battling the NY Yankees for supremacy in the AL East and they were in second place a game behind Reggie Jackson and the Bronx Bombers.
Fergie Jenkins was the Red Sox pitcher that day and his counterpart was Blue Jays lefty Jerry Garvin. The Blue Jays got runs in the first two innings and when the Sox came to bat in the bottom of the fifth, they were on the short end of a 2-0 pitchers duel. And that is when the fire works started.
Yaz started the frame with a single, was forced at second by Carlton Fisk bringing up the “Boomer” George Scott. The “Boomer” bombed a patented “tater” and the Sox had drawn even.
It did not last long as the Jays grabbed the lead back in the sixth on their own two run shot by right fielder Otto Velez (no relation to Jose). This began a four inning stretch of punch, counter punch and balls flying all over and out of the Fenway yard.
In the bottom of frame number six, Lynn hit his first dinger and once again the home town boys were within a run, but Toronto countered with two more and took a 6-3 lead into the seventh inning stretch. After Fisk led off with a walk and was doubled up by the “Boomer” it appeared as if the Sox would go quietly on this July 4th. But wait, third baseman Clell Lavern “Butch” Hobson stepped in and rocketed one out.
Third baseman “Butch” Hobson hit 30 home runs and knocked in 112 runs out of the nine hole in 1977.
Pinch hitter Bernie Carbo was next and he duplicated Hobson’s effort and now the Red Sox were back within one at 6-5.
Bernie Carbo pinch hitter extraordinaire.
Toronto threatened in their half of the eighth, loading the bases with one out but closer Bill “Soup” Campbell induced an inning ending double play and the Sox came up still trailing by only a run.
Shortstop Rick Burleson led off with a pop out to short bringing up Lynn who rifled his second homer of the day tying the score and bringing up Jim Rice.
In 1977, Jim Rice hit .320 with 39 homers and 114 RBI in a stretch where he was the most dominant hitter in all of baseball.
Rice homered giving the Red Sox their first lead of the day 7-6, and that brought up Carl Yastrzemski.
Yaz was 37 in 1977 and he hit .296 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. He was one of four 1977 Red Sox to hit 25 plus homers and knock in over 100 runs.
Yaz homered, the Sox led 8-6 and the Fenway Faithful were in a frenzy! After Fisk grounded out, George Scott closed out the scoring with his second home run of the day giving the Sox a 9-6 lead to take into the ninth inning.
Campbell closed out the Jays and earned the win in the 9-6 final. Now those of you who have been counting will know that the Red Sox hit eight home runs that day at Fenway! That’s right eight! Interestingly seven of them came with nobody on base!
On four other occasions the Sox have hit seven homers in a game. Two at Fenway (in 1950 and 2002) and two on the road (Detroit in 1999 and New York in 2003). However the record set on July 4, 1977 still stands!
Now comes the part where you guys can play along if you want to. Here’s the deal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with who you think are the Red Sox record holders for home runs in a season at each position. What Red Sox catcher hit the most homers in a season, first baseman, second baseman, right around the diamond. Don’t forget the pitcher and DH. Now you can cheat and look them up if you want or you can simply test your Fenway prowess and I’ll let you know next week.
Oh and even though the Sox dropped the fourth game of their series with Detroit last night, they enter June, 26-25, three games out of both first and the last Wild Card spot. Not bad, not bad at all.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, June 1, 2012