The Sox head to Yankee Stadium tonight (the fake one) where their historic 2012 season could effectively be put to death. I have written a few times about the rivalry and thought this would be a good time for the seventh stanza.
Following the 1951 season, the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry went dormant, for the two franchises were, once again, headed in two distinctly different directions. The Yankees won their third consecutive World Series in ’51’, on their way to five straight. In fact, the 50s brought the greatest period of Yankee dominance in their history. Try this on for size, from 1949 through 1964 the New York Yankees won the American League pennant 14 times. Did you catch that? FOURTEEN TIMES! The only years they did not win was 1954 and 1959! They won the World Series in nine of those years!
Yogi Berra played in 14 World Series with the Yankees.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, were bound for another era of futility, no check that, they were plummeting into mediocrity on their way to abomination.
In 1952, Ted Williams re-entered the military to serve in the Korean War and with his departure went any Red Sox chances of derailing the Yankee juggernaut. In fact Ted would never see another season where his Red Sox actually challenged for the American League top spot. Oh they did finish in third place in both 1957 and ’58’ but they were 16 and 13 games behind in those years and abomination was just around the corner. In Ted’s final year (1960), the Sox finished seventh in an eight team league.
The following year brought expansion, Yaz and abomination. The addition of two teams to the American League in 1961 did nothing to help the Red Sox except keep them from finishing in the cellar. For from 1961 until 1967, they finished, in order, sixth, eighth, seventh, eighth, ninth and ninth and averaged 89 losses a year while doing so.
Following the Yankee pennant winning 1964 season, they too fell into the abyss and the only semblance of a Red Sox/Yankee rivalry came in 1966 when the Yankees finished in 10th place, a half game behind the Red Sox. Oh how the mighty had fallen!
In 1967, the Red Sox franchise was re-born as they captured their first American League pennant in 21 years in what is now recognized as the watershed year of the franchise. However, this did nothing to resurrect the rivalry with the Yankees as they were in the midst of a decade of their own futility and both teams were chasing the Orioles who won 109 games in 1969, 108 games in 1970 and 101 games in 1971.
In 1971, the Baltimore Orioles had four 20 game winners on their pitching staff, left to right, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cueller and Pat Dobson.
From 1968 through 1974 it was the Orioles and Tigers who took the top spots. The Tigers won in ’68’, the last year of just two ten team leagues and the O’s reigned in ’69’, ’70’, ’71’, ’73’ and ’74’. The ’72’ campaign brought the first players strike and the Red Sox (of course) paid the price for that. How you say, well when the strike was settled in late April, the decision was made to simply pick up the schedule where it was and no provisions were made to equalize the number of games each team played. Well when it was all said and done, the Red Sox finished in second place in the AL East, only one half game behind the Tigers. Why? Simple, Detroit played one more game than did the Red Sox!
Fred Lynn and Jim Rice.
In 1975 a couple of kids arrived in Boston. A rookie tandem the likes of which had not been seen in decades. They rejuvenated Yastrzemski, electrified the baseball world, led the Red Sox back to the promised land and derailed the three-time World Champ Oakland A’s on their way to the historic 1975 World Series. AND, gave birth to the seventh stanza of the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry.
The Yankees ran away from the field in 1976 finishing 10.5 games ahead of the second place Orioles and 15.5 ahead of the Sox but born in this year was a true animosity held between the Yankees and the Red Sox. It was fueled, primarily by these two guys.
Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk.
You see they were both good, very good. In fact sometimes I think they may have been clones. Munson a hard-nosed tough kid from the mid-west, Fisk a hard-nosed, tough, lunch pail kid from New England. They both were excellent behind the plate, they both could hit and hit in the clutch and here’s the best part, they didn’t like each other and made no bones about making that clear!
They would, on occasion, run into each other.
And it would always seem to be in the same place.
They often disagreed.
And a lot of times their friends would get involved in their disagreements, like here.
And in 1977 both teams were also good, very good. They battled all season long, playing each other 15 times during the year with the Red Sox winning eight of them. Five of the games were one run affairs and it was the Red Sox and Yanks who were in and out of first place. The Sox won 97 games that year and were in first place for 49 days. The Yanks? Well they won 99 games and they rode the top of the AL East for 74 days and of course the most important day, the last day of the season.
In 1977 the Yankees won their first World Series in fifteen years, defeating the Dodgers in six games behind this guy’s five home runs.
In the World Series of 1977, Mr. October was born.
it also set the stage for 1978…..And that is for another day!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, July 27, 2012.