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1967: The Year That the Impossible Was Just Not a Dream

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#1 jacklamabe65

  • A New Frontier butt boy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 09:15 AM


On a balmy Sunday afternoon, September 18, 1966, my father and I strolled down an unassuming alley in the Back Bay section of Boston then called Jersey Street, entered Gate A, and sat in our appointed seats in Section 12 at Fenway Park.

Another summer of disappointment would officially end for the Boston Red Sox ten days later. On the final day of the season, the team would finish with a demoralizing 72-90 record, good for ninth place, one-half game out of last place in a ten-team American League.

At the time, the organization was considered a genuine loser with a disquieting moniker – “The Country Club”. Boston’s only professional baseball club was known to overpay and coddle its stars while playing in a then feeble stadium where the average attendance was less than nine thousand a game. The last major league franchise to include an African-American on its big league roster, the organization was a backwater for deep-seated colonialism that had directly affected the overall play of the team on the field.

Not surprisingly, the Sox hadn’t had a winning season in a decade, and despite the presence of a handful of talented prospects emerging from Boston’s AAA squad in Toronto, a sparse crowd of downcast loyalists sat passively as the Olde Towne Team lose their final home game of the season to the California Angels.

As my father and I watched from our red seats along the first base line, we witnessed starting pitcher Jim Lonborg relieved in the fifth inning after another unsatisfactory outing. He would then be replaced by journeymen hurlers Rollie Sheldon and Gary Roggenburk. Despite the looming presence of such emerging sluggers as Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, and George Scott, Angel hitters Jim Fregosi and Paul Schaal outmatched the Sox, 5-3, handing Boston its 86th defeat of the season.

At 3:29 pm, when the final out was made, even the most casual of fans recognized that one more futile Boston baseball season was already in the books. Observing my gloom, my father, who had come to accept disappointment as an unswerving baseball companion, put his arms around me and said fiercely, “Don’t worry, son. You know what they said in Brooklyn in the old days? ‘Wait until next year’!”

“I hope so,” I muttered as we walked past five-thousand torn scorecards, confetti for another melancholy season.

As Dad and I sauntered out of Fenway that afternoon, little did we know that our ragtag baseball team was actually on the cusp of a truly remarkable Magical Mystery Tour - the most unlikely, surreal, and joyful of all Red Sox seasons. To the absolute astonishment of the entire baseball world, a franchise that had once been nicknamed “The Red Flops” by the head of its own fan club, would, over the course of the next twelve months, inexplicably defy nearly insurmountable, 100 to 1 odds to emerge as a truly immortal squad – The Impossible Dream Red Sox.

As a result of the 1967 miracle, Boston’s major league baseball entry would not only fill Fenway Park with regularity over the next four decades, but the team itself would experience an unprecedented renaissance, finishing above .500 thirty-five times while maintaining the second best winning percentage in the majors from 1967 through 2007. The entity that would lovingly become known as “Red Sox Nation” would find its origin in 1967 - the season that “The Cardiac Kids” captured the soul of each and every New Englander. Even today, forty years later, the colors from that improbable year still illuminate.

A few weeks before his death in 1986, my father murmured to me, “I’ve seen everyone from Babe Ruth to Bobby Orr, but ‘67 has no comparison. It stands on its own.”

My first recollection that things would be different on Jersey Street began at precisely 2:02 pm on the afternoon of September 28, 1966 when minor league manager Dick Williams was formally introduced as the new field general of the franchise.

My father and I watched a synopsis of the press conference later on that evening through the incisive lens of veteran Boston sportscaster Don Gillis. During his nightly report on WHDH TV, Channel 5, Gillis conducted a now legendary interview with the new Boston manager in which the volatile Williams spat out a series of declarative sentences in rapid fire: “I’ll tell you what, Don; we’ll have a hustling ball club. And they won’t quit. They didn’t quit on me in the minors in Toronto, and they won’t quit on me here. In the end, I honestly think that we’ll win more games than they lose.”

As Gillis concluded his report, Dad exclaimed, “You know what? I believe Williams and what he just said. After all,” Dad winked to me, “Williams is a National League guy!”

Like thousands of other old Boston Braves fans, my father had never actually transferred his allegiance to the Red Sox. As a young man, he had seen Babe Ruth hit a gigantic blast into the legendary “Jury Box” in right field at old Braves Field. From Rabbit Maranville to Bob Elliott, he had lived and died with “his boys”. When the Braves abruptly departed for Milwaukee in March, 1953, Dad lived in a perpetual baseball gulag; the only time I had ever seen him root outright for any baseball team occurred when the National League representative played in the World Series each fall.

“Maybe this Williams guy will follow through on his words,” my father exclaimed as he flipped off the TV. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

On Monday morning, February 27th, the 1967 Boston Red Sox assembled for the first time at Boston’s spring training facilities in Winter Haven, Florida. Many of the players were stunned when they were individually phoned by an apologetic desk clerk at the local Holiday Inn at 7:00 am. From veteran John Wyatt to rookie Reggie Smith, the same message was delivered: “Manager Williams expects you on the field at 9:00 am sharp – or you will be fined for being late.”

By the following week, local scribes were calling the Red Sox daily drills the most organized and detailed they had ever seen. Unyielding fielding drills involving cutoffs and situational hitting including hitting to the opposite field was interspersed with a series of sprints, crunches, and volleyball. “The game involves strong legs, pliable arms, superb hand-eye coordination, and teamwork,” Williams told veteran Boston Herald scribe, Harold Kaese. “If they don’t work hard, they will sit on the bench with lighter pockets.”

After six weeks of daily practices, scrimmages, and exhibition games, two leaders emerged during the late winter foray – left-fielder Carl Yastrzemski, whose unremitting workout sessions with local trainer Gene Berde the previous fall and winter was already paying enormous dividends, and pitcher Jim Lonborg, whose darting fastball began to be complimented by a tumbling curveball that seemed to drop six to eight inches as it approached home plate.

Despite the apparent transformation of the team, only 8,234 fans greeted the Red Sox as they played the first official game of the 1967 season. Fifteen years later, reporter Peter Gammons would compare the annual Opening Day festivities in Boston to a “Druid Right of Spring”. On this scrubbed-up, blustery day, however, the usual skepticism prevailed; there would be 25,000 empty seats at the Fens that day despite absolutely seamless weather.

Still, the Bosox won a 5-4 contest behind the starting pitching of Jim Lonborg, the power hitting of Rico Petrocelli, and the superb fielding of Tony Conigliaro who made a brilliant stab in right field on a ball smoked by Ron Hansen with one out in the ninth. When my father returned home that evening, he joked to me, “See, they’re winning more than their losing!”

Two days later, a truly seminal event occurred that would make not only Boston fans – but baseball fans everywhere – stand up and take notice. On Friday afternoon, April 14th in the South Bronx, Yankee veteran Whitey Ford started for New York in the home opener at the Stadium against the Red Sox. The starting pitcher for Boston was a lanky lefthander from California named Billy Rohr whose main attributes at the time were a sneaky fastball and a lollipop curve.

After sprinting home from school to take in the end of the game, I was stunned to hear from an animated Ken Coleman who was broadcasting the game on WHDH radio that the young Boston hurler had not given up a hit while walking five through eight innings.

According to Coleman, the only scare in the contest had occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning when Yankee outfielder Bill Robinson has ripped a smash up the middle. The ball had struck Billy Rohr on the left shin, rebounded to Red Sox third baseman Joe Foy, who then gunned the ball to George Scott at first for the second out of the sixth. Since that time, the Boston rookie southpaw had breezed through the seventh and the eighth and was on the cusp of baseball immortality as I paced back and forth in my bedroom.

On the very first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning, Yankee hitter Tom Tresh lashed a flat heater from Rohr and lined it well over Carl Yastrzemski’s head in the cavernous outfield at Yankee Stadium. As soon as the ball was struck, Yaz sprinted flat out, and, at the last second, lunged at the ball like a wide receiver, his body extended to its furthest reaches. Announcer Coleman - who had instantly measured the distance to where the ball was heading from where the Boston left fielder had started from - realized that the Boston outfielder was somehow closing in on Tresh’s rocket. At the last second, Yaz leaped and tumbled - and then got up to his feet and held the ball up for all to see. The Red Sox lead announcer then precipitately screamed into the mike, “And he dives and makes a TREMENDOUS CATCH!”

New York first baseman Joe Pepitone followed with a pedestrian fly to right that outfielder Tony Conigliaro easily caught for the second out. With the Red Sox leading 3 to 0, Billy Rohr was only one out away from pitching a no-hitter in his first major league start. Seven pitches later, the Boston lefthander left a hanging curve over the outer portion of the plate which Yankee catcher Elston Howard looped to rightfield for a base hit, a little flair that was out the grasp of both Tony C. and second baseman Reggie Smith. As Howard rounded first, thousands of Yankee fans jeered him – the first and only time that the revered Yankee catcher was ever booed after getting a base hit in the Stadium. One pitch later, New York’s Charley Smith popped to Tony C, in right, and the Red Sox mobbed a humble Rohr on the mound.

A few seconds later, the phone rang. “Did you hear that, Shaunie?” bellowed my father. “Absolutely fantastic!” Two nights later, Dad and I watched proudly as Rohr was formally introduced to a national audience on Ed Sullivan’s celebrated Sunday night entertainment show on CBS.

From the time Billy Rohr pitched his one-hitter against the Yankees on that memorable afternoon in April, 1967, Dad began to follow his “new boys” on a pitch-by-pitch basis. Fourteen years after the Braves had departed New England for Milwaukee, James Lawrence Kelly finally became a Red Sox fan. My father and I would follow the daily exploits of the team together until the day he died nineteen seasons later.

Unlike previous years when the eventual pennant winner had sprinted to the lead by mid spring, the American League quickly turned into a veritable quagmire. Ultimately, no team emerged from a pack whose leader changed virtually every day. While the defending World Champion Orioles eventually fell out of contention thanks to an unyielding series of injuries, the dangerous Minnesota Twins emerged as the most balanced squad in the league. As the spring weeks began to unfold, most baseball experts believed that the White Sox had the best pitching staff, while the Tigers possessed the league’s most prodigious offense. One last squad lingered near the top of the AL standings that spring like unhurried fog descending on a humid night – the youthful and talented Red Sox.

Indeed, as the Boston nine kept itself above .500 and within a handful of games of the lead over the first ten weeks of the season, the team had begun to discard its longstanding country club reputation – the Sox were becoming known as a hustling, talented bunch that had developed a habit of coming from behind in the most unanticipated of ways.

One afternoon after a particularly satisfying win, I began to look closely at the 1967 schedule that adorned my bedroom wall, next to a picture of my latest Boston sports hero, a certain crew cut-haired teenager named Robert Gordon Orr. When I observed that the Sox had a home game against the best team in the league, the feared Minnesota Twins, on the last day of the season, I ran down to my father’s study. “Daddy!” I shouted, “do you think that Mr. O’Connell can get us tickets to the game on October 1st? I have a feeling it might be an important one.” My father and Dick O’Connell, the team’s general manager at the time, were old friends who had served in the Naval Reserve together.

“I’ll call Dick tomorrow,” Dad replied. “He will surely like your optimism, son.”

Ten days later, I received an envelope in the mail with a Red Sox insignia adorning the front. When I tore it open, four tickets tumbled out onto the floor. Inside the envelope was a short note. “Dear Shaun,” it read, “I wish all Red Sox fans had your faith. May these tickets bring you great joy. Sincerely, Dick O’Connell.”

A month later, on the evening of June 15th, nearly 17,000 fans turned out at Fenway to see them battle the first place White Sox. At the time, Boston was in third place, five games behind Chicago. Earlier that day, I had graduated from sixth grade and was now officially on vacation. Dad wanted to “break out the summer” by having the two of us take in some baseball at Fenway.

When we sat in our assigned seats in Section 27, we noticed that the crowd was more boisterous than previous games that we had been present at in the past. In centerfield, a homemade sign had been draped on the back wall with a large picture of the team’s insignia with the accompanying words – “The Little Engine That Could!”

For nine innings, we watched from our seats along the third base line as two improbable hurlers, Red Sox rookie pitcher Gary Wasleswki and veteran journeyman Bruce Howard battled each other to a scoreless duel. Hard-throwing reliever Johnny Wyatt came out of the Boston bullpen in the tenth and shut the Chisox down. Hoyt Wilhelm and John Buzhardt did the same for Chicago. As the two teams walked off the field to conclude the tenth frame, Dad turned to me and beamed, “Now this is a National League kind of game!”

In the top of the eleventh inning, Walt “No Neck” Williams led off the inning with a scorching double into the leftfield corner. After monitoring the plight of the ball, my father quickly surmised, “The White Sox’s manager, Eddie Stanky, will have Don Buford bunt. Remember, Eddie once played for the Braves!”

As George Scott and Joe Foy crept in to cover the anticipated bunt, the Chicago batter suddenly left his squared-off position in the batter’s box and lashed at a John Wyatt fastball towards right field. First baseman Scott desperately lunged for the ball, caught the sphere on a wicked hop, and beat a stunned Williams to the bag. My father fiercely applauded as he shouted through the clamor, “Gill Hodges himself would not have gotten to that ball!”

After the second out, however, light-hitting Ken Berry dribbled a single to right with Williams hustling in from third. I slumped into my seat as Tony C. lobbed the ball back to Mike Andrews at second. Dad put his arm around me and said, “Don’t worry, son. The big boys are coming up for us.”

However, when Yaz popped to first baseman Tommy McCraw and George Scott broke his bat on a soft liner to third baseman Dick Kenworthy, all hope seemed lost. “We’re staying for the final out,” Dad said emphatically as I remained seated, watching Joe Foy tiptoe towards home plate. The Red Sox infielder took a deep breath, fingered his bat, and promptly grounded a single between short and third.

As fan favorite Tony Conigliaro slowly walked up to the plate, everyone at the Fens began to stand. Having led the American League in homeruns two seasons before, Tony C. was now mired in a prolonged slump. A recent two-week stint at Camp Drum as a member of the Massachusetts National Guard had left him in a hitting stupor. Aware of Conig’s hitting funk, pitcher John Buzhardt promptly threw a pair of unforgivable curves; the kid from East Boston grunted as he missed both of them by a foot. Predictably, an unsettling stillness settled over Fenway like an airless shroud.

With the count 0-2, Conigliaro settled into his familiar stance, his bat cocked, his coffee eyes staring out assertively at the White Sox hurler. Another curveball was tossed by Buzhardt, but the sphere seemed to deflate by the time it approached home plate. In less than a second, the streaking ball disappeared into the left field net above the scoreboard as the Red Sox team swirled around Tony C. as he gleefully approached home.

“Never, ever count this team out!” Dad shouted as we joined in the hosannas that swelled around us.

As we headed home on Route 9, drained and elated, Red Sox announcer Ned Martin concluded the post-game show be exclaiming, “The Cardiac Kids have come through once again!”

“This is the most fun I’ve had in baseball since the ’48 Braves!” Dad cried out as we entered our darkened driveway.

Over the next three months, the fortunes of the Red Sox turned into a proverbial Paragon Park rollercoaster ride. In late June, a massive brawl in the Bronx ensued after Jim Lonborg plunked Yankees pitcher Thad Tillotson square in the back in retaliation for Tillotson’s beaning of Joe Foy. Injuries to pitchers Dave Morehead and Bill Rohr were negated by the unanticipated emergence of hurlers Jose Santiago and Sparky Lyle. Veteran second baseman Jerry Adair, utilityman Norm Siebern, and pitcher Gary Bell were added to the team in crucial mid-season trades. Later on, catcher Elston Howard would be picked up on waivers from the Yankees. His leadership behind the plate would prove absolutely vital to the team for the remainder of the season. On August 18th, however, tragedy struck when Tony Conigliaro was plucked on the left cheekbone by a tailing fastball thrown by Angels' hurler Jack Hamilton. The young superstar from East Boston would not play in another major league game until two seasons later.

Despite’s Tony C’s injury, the Red Sox found themselves in sole possession of first place for the first time since 1949 as they played the rubber game of a vital three-game series against Chicago on the afternoon of August 26th. The Bosox subsequently defeated the hard-charging White Sox at Comiskey Park when noodle-armed Jose Tartabull threw out a bewildered Ken Berry from third base to complete an astonishing double play to end the game. When the umpire’s right hand went up after the dust had settled, shouts of ecstasy could be heard throughout our cottage on the Cape as my entire family watched the game on my grandfather’s decrepit Philco.

“While Tartabull’s throw was truly incredible,” gushed Dad five minutes after the contest ended, “it was Ellie Howard’s blocking of home plate with his left foot that saved the day!” Not long after the ’67 season, longtime announcer Ken Coleman pointed to this game as the most critical victory of the year.

A few days later, the Red Sox were featured in both Life and Sports Illustrated, with Yaz gracing the cover of SI. Nearly every kid within the confines of Route 128 and beyond painstakingly cut the cover page from the rest of the magazine and scotch-taped it to his or her bedroom wall where it resolutely remained for years afterward, a venerable sports icon, yellowed and self-important.

By this time, the 1967 Red Sox began to creep into the mindset of the American psyche, a society that was not only in the midst of an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam but which was also in the throws of one of the most dynamic cultural phenomena in its two-century history that became known as “The Summer of Love”. Fueled by the anti-war and civil rights movements, the emerging hippie counterculture in San Francisco, and the unprecedented release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in mid June, anything else that was “in” that summer was subsequently embraced by the greater culture as a “happening”. From the national debut albums of Van Morrison, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and the Jefferson Airplane within an astonishing ten week period in late spring to the release of the summer’s irrepressible anthem, John Lennon’s “All You Need is Love”, the musical harvest that intrepid baseball summer was simply unparalleled. The magic of the times even touched a previously xenophobic baseball franchise far away from San Francisco, for as the Boston Red Sox wove their way to the top of the standings, they suddenly became the next "in thing". During a late summer series in Yankee Stadium, thousands of Yankee fans began to root for the Red Sox because, as one fan explained to New York writer Dick Young at the time, the Sox were “incredibly cool”.

As the days turned breezy and the early fall evenings lengthened, Boston’s American League entry and the other three teams vying for the pennant moved in and out of first place like cars in a traffic jam. On September 23rd, with only a handful of games left in the regular season, just one game separated the four top teams. It was apparent that the AL pennant would probably be decided the following weekend when the Red Sox would host front-runner Minnesota, the Tigers would take on the Angels in Detroit, and Chicago would host the lowly Washington Senators. By Friday, September 29th, however, the light-hitting Chisox were eliminated from contention by Phil Ortega and the Senators who defeated White Sox ace Tommy John by a 1-0 score.

On Saturday, September 30th, Detroit remained on the brink with an impressive 5-0 win over the Angels. A scheduled doubleheader at Tiger Stadium would be held the next afternoon. At Fenway Park, the Red Sox defeated the Twins in an absolute do-or-die situation behind the starting pitching of Jose Santiago and the seventh inning heroics of Carl Yastrzemski, who launched his forty-fourth homerun of the year into the Twins bullpen off of Minnesota reliever Jim Merritt. Yaz, who drove in three runs with the blast, would ultimately secure baseball’s Triple Crown the next afternoon with a clutch two-RBI, four-hit performance.

With one-hundred-and-sixty- one games played, the Red Sox and the Twins were tied for first; the Tigers were only a half-game behind the co-leaders. The closest pennant race in American League history would ultimately be determined within the bookends of a single autumn afternoon.

October 1, 1967. My father, brother, and I arrived at our appointed seats in Section 15 more than ninety minutes before game time. NBC had impulsively decided to televise the game nationally; a horde of scribes and sportscasters scurry around both teams as they took batting practice. Over the next hour, the old ballpark began to brim over with Sox fans; there were standees everywhere, including scores of young supporters who stood along the rickety ledges of the billboard signs that stood at attention on Lansdowne Street beyond left field.

"Mr. O'Connell was really generous!" I exclaimed to my father. "These are the best seats in the ballpark!"

We glanced out onto the field from our perch near the Red Sox dugout. "It's nice that there is an important baseball game to be played here in October," Dad replied. "It's been a long time."

The team that had long been a laughing stock was now featured on the front page of The New York Times as the closest race in American League history came down to the wire. Overhead, three news helicopters flew around the perimeter of Kenmore Square while two-hundred reporters jammed into Fenway’s overcrowded press box. The old park was bulging at the seams as game time approached - nearly 36, 000 fans filled the stadium - a far cry from the smattering of fans who had come to witness Opening Day less than six months previously.

In the centerfield bleachers a homemade sign hung on the back wall of the park reminded us of the time, the place, and the incomparable moment: “The Red Sox are Totally Groovy”, it read.

After sitting at our appointed seats for a spell, I noticed that a large group of youngsters had formed a semi-circle around the backstop behind home plate. I scuttled down there, pencil and program in hand, and soon saw what the commotion was about. Wearing a blue sports blazer and signing autographs for a few lucky kids was none other than the great Koufax himself. Sandy was serving as the colorman along with Pee Wee Reese while Curt Gowdy worked as the main announcer for the NBC television broadcast that day.

Just as I arrived at the back of the circle, the former legendary Dodger hurler looked up and bellowed to us all, “Sorry, boys, but I’ve gotta go!”

“But Sandy!” I called out in panic. “I read your book with Ed Linn!”

“Who said that?” Koufax shouted out to the group.

“I did,” I retorted.

“Well, son, I’ll sign for you then!”

As Koufax rolled my program through the backstop screen, I checked to make sure that he really had signed it. In a steady hand, he had scrawled his name, “Sandy Koufax”, with the pencil I had given him on the back of the scorecard. He then slowly walked out to a spot near the batting circle, a microphone in his hand. Koufax was clearly about to tape an interview. The entire group of boys around the batting cage soon noticed his appointed interviewee who slowly made his way from the Red Sox dugout. We all exploded as we recognized him. “Tony! Tony!” How are you, Tony?” we all shouted.

“Hi, boys,” Tony Conigliaro turned to us. “I’m alright, guys – thanks for asking. We’re gonna win this one today. Right?”

“Right you are, Tony!” we replied in unison.

Tony gave us a little wave and then began a short interview with Sandy Koufax as the autumn sun began to drip in splotches over the infield.

Twenty-five minutes before game time, Jim Lonborg slowly strolled out to the Red Sox bullpen to a thunderous ovation. While his 21-9 record was singularly impressive, he was 0-3 against the Twins coming into the game. Meanwhile, Dean Chance, Minnesota’s starting pitcher with a record of 20-13, also began warming up in right field. One-fourth of his victories in 1967 had come against Boston.

Some seventy miles to the southeast of Boston's Back Bay in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Seaver Miller Rice and his infirmed wife, Gertrude, were listening intently to the pre-game show on WHDH radio as they had for the previous one-hundred-and-sixty-one contests. Rice, then seventy-four years old, had seen Cy Young pitch for the Boston Americans and had been one of the thousands of enthralled spectators at Fenway Park in 1912 when young Smokey Joe Wood had out-dueled the immortal Walter Johnson in one of the most famous baseball games ever played within the confines of the City of Boston.

A devoted husband, Seaver had served as the solitary caregiver of his elegant wife, Gertrude, who had been bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis for more than a decade. Like thousands and thousands of other “shut-ins”, the daily Red Sox radiocasts had enabled the Rices to get through the summer months that year with aplomb. Gertrude Rice's favorite player, first baseman George Scott, never ceased to put a smile on her still beautiful face. "I think George and the boys are going to come through for us all today!" she exhaled, staring at her clock radio that was positioned next to her bed. Her husband, like many devoted Boston fans at that moment, was too nervous to even reply.

Back at Fenway Park, the Red Sox started off badly, not surprising given their inexperience in pressurized games. With a runner on first and two outs, Harmon Killebrew singled to left-center as runner Cesar Tovar began sprinting around the bases. Yaz charged the ball, but it skirted behind him for an error, allowing the Twins to score their second run. Meanwhile, Twins starter Dean Chance continued to mow down the Boston nine, allowing only three hits in the first five innings.

As the bottom of the sixth began, Minnesota led 2-0, with pitcher Jim Lonborg leading off the frame. The Bosox pitcher noticed that Twins third baseman Cesar Tovar was playing back. As Chance hurled his first pitch of the inning, Lonborg suddenly swung his bat around, squared a perfect bunt down the third base line, and beat it out. Lonnie’s unforeseen bunt – comparable to Dave Roberts’ dramatic steal nearly forty years later – opened up the floodgates. Ten pitches later, Chance was out of the ballgame, after Jerry Adair, Dalton Jones, and then Yaz lashed singles to tie the score. When shortstop Zolio Versailles gambled on Ken Harrelson’s high chopper and threw home, Jones slid in safely to make the score 3-2 in favor of Boston. An error and a wild pitch enabled the fourth and fifth Boston runs of the inning to score.

“Three more innings!” my father barked above the deafening roar that engulfed the ballpark.

In the top of the eighth, Yaz completed his signature season by throwing out Bob Allison at second after the Minnesota slugger had rammed a hanging curve hard against the leftfield wall. The Boston outfielder retrieved it off the Monster, whirled around, and threw a laser to second baseman Mike Andrews for the third out. While the Twins had scored on the play to make it 5-3, we breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Sox happily disappeared into their first base dugout.

After Boston went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, my father and I, along with everyone else at Fenway, got out of our seats and stood as the Red Sox took the field in the top of the ninth. “Three more outs, my boy,” Dad patted me as I gripped my program nervously.

Centerfielder Ted Uhlaender led off and skipped a grounder to Rico at short. At the last second, however, the ball took a bad hop and struck the Boston shortstop square on the cheek. With a runner at first, Lonborg got two quick strikes on rookie Rod Carew. On the third pitch, the Twins phenom lashed a ball right to second baseman Andrews who tagged Uhlaender and then heaved the ball to George Scott who scooped it out of the dirt for a double play.

A groundswell of emotion began to bubble all around Fenway. I placed my hands together, literally praying for one more out. For five years, I had followed a franchise that had long defined both mediocrity and failure. But now, after six miraculous months of unspoiled play, the Boston Red Sox were on the abyss of pure baseball ecstasy. As pitch hitter Rich Rollins approached the batter’s circle, I felt a gentle hand pat my back. I looked over to my left; Dad gave me a wink as Rollins dug in.

Seventy miles away in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Gertrude Rice fingered her rosary beads and said a silent prayer as she lay in her bed, listening to the looming voice of Ned Martin on WHDH radio. "They are going to pull this all off," Seaver Rice smiled at his wife. "It's an absolute miracle," he barked. Gertrude Rice began to shed tears of joy.

Back at Fenway Park's crowded press box, renowned New York writer Jimmy Breslin began to compose an on-the-spot tribute to the Boston Nine just as Jim Lonborg began his windup:

“Here’s to the Red Sox of Boston
Home of Boston and the cod
Where Cabots now cheer Yastrzemskis
And ol’ Beantown is suddenly mod.”

One floor above where Breslin was sitting, WHDH engineer, Al Walker, sat up straight in the radio broadcasting booth to watch the proceedings as announcer Ned Martin sat huddled next to him. Both men had spent several excruciating years in the wilderness with the Red Sox - and both wanted to get this moment just right. Walker had just finished communicating with head Red Sox announcer, Ken Coleman, on his headset; Coleman was patiently waiting in the Red Sox dressing room waiting to interview the Red Sox after the game. The local radio engineer leveled the crowd noise with his announcer's distinct baritone as Ned Martin intently watched Rich Rollins dig in at home plate. The Red Sox number two announcer then said in hished tomes to the radio audience: “Jim Lonborg is within one out….of his biggest victory ever...his twenty-second of the year….and his first over the Twins.”

Martin then paused – letting the listener take in the scene.

“The pitch……is looped toward shortstop….”

A living and breathing thesaurus, Ned Martin could have used any of a host of words from his prodigious vocabulary, but he chose, “looped”. My father later described Reese’s popup as “a little squirt from the hose”. Looped was an inspired choice, impeccably capturing the bending flight of the ball.

As the ball began to topple, Ned’s voice hurriedly changed; his tenor commenced to soar as he exclaimed, “Petrocelli’s back...he’s got it! The Red Sox win!”

The Sox radio announcer then took in a breath of air, mostly to observe the players and fans who had instantly enveloped the jubilant Lonborg to the right of the pitcher’s mound. Absolute chaos ensued, but Ned Martin was well-equipped to describe it. He immediately punched out, “And there’s pandemonium on the field!”

The last ingredient of Martin’s call contained just one word – and a cacophony of elation. Mindful that he was describing the action to a devoted radio audience, Ned paused, and then called out, “Listen!”

An opus of horns could be heard - the air-kind that were allowed at the time by management - instruments of exultation that always gave out a piercing glee as they resounded throughout the old ballpark. The fans’ collective primal-shouting verified Ned Martin’s precise account. Martin and Al Walker both stood up as thousands of fans swirled onto the field.

As the crowds began to descend upon the green expanse, Tom Yawkey stood up in his usual upstairs box along the third base line and instantly received prolonged hugs from his wife, Jean, and from the Vice President of the team at the time, Haywood Sullivan. Tears streamed down Mr. Yawkey's ancient face as the Red Sox principal owner for more than thirty years watched the proceedings on the field.

Down below in the stands, my father grabbed me as I began to move toward the mob scene field and yelled, “You’ll get killed out there. Enjoy it from here!”

For the next twenty minutes, the Red Sox themselves attempted to make it safely back to the dugout amidst the euphoric horde. Jim Lonborg was physically carried out to right field before being rescued by a flock of policemen. As we watched the ensuing bedlam on the field, my father gestured to the field and shouted above the clamor, “Life doesn’t get any better than this!” A year previously, Dad and I had walked out of Fenway Park totally dejected after another losing season. Twelve months laterm as we maneuvered through the hubbub of the euphoric throng encircling Kenmore Square, the Red Sox, ninth place finishers the season before were now on the cusp of an improbable pennant.

We listened to the Tigers game on the radio on the triumphant ride back to Wellesley. Detroit had won the first game against California; Ned Martin announced that a one-game playoff would be played at Fenway the following afternoon if the Tigers prevailed in the second game.

An hour later, I paced back and forth in my bedroom, pulling with all of my might for the Angels to preserve their 8-5 lead. With one out and one on in the bottom of the ninth, Tigers infielder Dick McAuliffe, walked up to the plate to face veteran California pitcher, George Brunet.

Through the din, legendary Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell exclaimed, “McAuliffe hits a ground ball to Bobby Knoop who shovels to Fregosi for one – there’s the throw to Don Mincher - and it’s a double play! Boston has won the American League pennant!”

I jumped up and down for what seemed like an hour. My mother then flew into my room and squeezed me extra hard, “After all of those years of following this team – and now look what they’ve brought you!” she exclaimed with blinking eyes.

Within minutes, more than forty of the neighborhood kids formed a spontaneous parade up and down our street as their jubilant parents stood by their doorways, clapping and yelling with all of their hearts.

Later that night, before I went to sleep, I went to say goodnight to my father. “I can’t believe that we’re American League champs!” I admitted to him with a tone of wonder in my voice.

“We did it, Shaunie! We did this thing together,” Dad smiled as he gave me an extended hug.

On the morning of October 2nd, I rushed downstairs and ran outside to fetch a copy of the day’s newspaper. I hastily opened up The Boston Herald and saw a colored team picture of the Red Sox with a bold headline that proclaimed, “Pennant Is Ours!”

“Best news headline I have read since ‘Japs Surrender’,” grinned Mom as I showed her the top half of the front page.

Two days later, I brought my tiny transistor to school in order to hear the World Series. In Mr. Briggs’ math class, we huddled around my radio and listened to the start of the Sox pre-game show. It turned out to be an eighteen minute recap of the regular season with music, poetry, and audio clips cohesively threaded together in an emotive tribute that announcer Ken Coleman called, “The Impossible Dream”.

As we began to listen to the Series that afternoon, we knew that the odds of securing a world’s championship that year were somewhat remote, for facing the Red Sox in the World Series that fall were the plucky St. Louis Cardinals, the most balanced and talented team in either league at the time. Most baseball experts had already picked St. Louis to win the Series in five games.

In Game 1, the Cards started fast out of the gate with a dramatic 2-1 victory at Fenway behind the faultless pitching of the fearless Bob Gibson. The Sox came back in Game 2 with abandon; Yaz lashed two prodigious homeruns while ace Jim Lonborg lost a perfect game bid with two out in the eighth inning when Julian Javier stroked a double in the left field corner. In the end, Lonnie tossed the second one-hitter in World Series history, a peerless pitching performance in the most pressurized of circumstances.

After Game 2, my joyful parents brought back a Sox American League Champions banner and a World Series program for me to have as mementos – they had been guests of old friends Dom and Emily DiMaggio – and were still soaring from Gentleman Jim's near-perfect game. Dad laughed when he told me that he saw New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the game proudly wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. “That will go well in the Bronx when he runs again,” my father quipped.

In St. Louis, the Cards won games 3 and 4 behind the sterling pitching of Nellie Briles and Gibson, who seemed especially unhittable in the glare of the Midwestern afternoon sun. However, Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg valiantly came through for the Boston nine in Game 5 at Busch Stadium as Lonnie pitched another complete game victory, a three-hit tour de force in which he gave up his only run of the game to St. Louis with two out in the ninth.

Back at Fenway for Game 6, few fans believed that Boston could come back, especially when journeyman pitcher Gary Waslewski was announced as Dick Williams’ surprise starter. In the end, however, the improbable Red Sox struck again as they had all season. “Waz” pitched a heroic five-and-a-third innings while only giving up two runs, while Rico Petrocelli, Carl Yastrzemski, and Reggie Smith hit back-to-back-to-back homeruns in the fourth inning off St. Louis starter Dick Hughes. Key hits by Dalton Jones, Carl Yastrzemski, and Reggie Smith off old friend Jack Lamabe secured the game for the Boston nine in the seventh.

In Game 7, Manager Dick Williams went with his heart over his head and chose Jim Lonborg to pitch on only two days rest against the ever-daunting Bob Gibson. Laboring for the third time on three days rest, the future Hall of Famer dominated the finale, permitting Boston just three scratch hits while striking out ten batters.

After forty-nine hard-fought innings over seven inexorable games, George Scott struck out to end the Series, a signature bullet from the golden arm of Gibson, who was immediately swallowed up by a throng of exultant Cardinals teammates. The mournful whirl of John Kiley’s organ could be heard in the background as the silent throng at Fenway slowly began to head for the exits.

Later that night, my eyes began to well with tears as I lay on bed, staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, a shaft of light filtered through the darkness as a hulking figure approached my bed. The man who sat down at the corner of my cot had survived the Great Depression, had fought at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and had helped raise four children during a most tumultuous time period. “I, too, am sad, Shaunie,” my father said, as he touched my face.

For the next half-hour, Dad and I talked. With a remorseless autumn wind blowing outside my window, we both admitted to each other that St. Louis had a vastly superior team. “The Red Sox gave it all they had,” my father said simply. In the next day’s edition of The Boston Globe, acclaimed sportswriter Ray Fitzgerald called it, “The Series nobody lost.”

After a moment of silence, Dad patted me on the shoulder and sighed, “Lonnie had the heart of a lion out there today. Gary Wasleswki, of all people, kept us in Game 6! No, son, there are no regrets here. They will be forever champions in my book.” He kissed me goodnight and whispered, “What a season! What an incredible season!” He left quietly, and I closed my eyes, with a kaleidoscope of images that formed the template of a miracle swirling in my mind.

Thirty-seven years later, in the afterglow of the most remarkable post-season performance in Boston baseball history, I visited my father’s grave, only a short walk from my old bedroom in Wellesley. With me was his youngest grandchild, Max, a ten-year-old boy who lived for each and every Red Sox victory.

As we walked to Dad’s gravesite, both Max and I were adorned in matching David “Big Papi” Ortiz tee-shirts as the sun began to glisten on the leaves that lay scattered like tiny islands on the carpeted lawn.

A week before, the most prodigious parade in New England history had celebrated a team that had redefined the adjective, extraordinary. The last two-and-a-half months of the 2004 season had completely eliminated the pathos that had become an unwieldy appendage to longtime Sox loyalists. The ensuing tarpaulin of elation that had enveloped the region reminded my mother of V-E Day.

And yet, for more than one-half of the 2004 season, the Red Sox had not played up to their potential; by the end of July, they found themselves hopelessly out of the divisional race. In the end, the team actually needed a sustained winning streak three-fourths of the way through the season in order to even qualify for the playoffs

I coaxed Max to approach his grandfather’s grave. “Go ahead, Maxie. He would want to hear it from you.”

“Grampie!" Max bellowed, “We won it! We’re World Series champions!”

Max and I then did a little dance at the lip of my father’s gravesite, an imitation of Manny Ramirez greeting “Big Papi” after a homerun, our fingers pointing to the sky. We then placed a Red Sox World Series Championship Cap on the top of Dad’s grave and quietly departed, driving past scores of gravestones where Red Sox hats and banners of various shapes and sizes hung proudly like bright flags on a fleet of ships.

As Max and I pulled out onto Brook Street, I began to think about the ’67 Red Sox, my father’s favorite team. While the Cardinals had celebrated a seventh game victory around the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park that year, the entire season had been nothing less than one long joyride. Unlike 2004, there were never any pockets of despair in 1967. “Sustained delight,” my father had called it at the time.

“You know, Max,” I exclaimed as we drove past my old house on Radcliffe Road, “if I could relive my life for a two-month period, I would surely rewind the past eight weeks we just experienced. How could I not? However, if I could relieve an entire season, Dick Williams would be the manager, Yaz would be in left, and Jim Lonborg would be on the mound.”

I paused and looked at my youngest son, “And my Dad would be there to take it all in once again.”

“I bet I’ll look at 2004 the same way when I’m old like you,” Max said brightly.

“Yep, I’ll bet you will,” I smiled, recognizing how astonishing it was that fathers and sons and baseball seasons could be so extraordinarily intertwined in a seemingly unshakable bond.

Later that evening, after I had returned to Connecticut and had tucked Max in for the night, I sat in the dark and played The Impossible Dream album for the first time in nearly twenty years.

Like a specter from the past, longtime Red Sox announcer Ken Coleman’s tremulous voice concluded the forty-minute audio tribute to the ’67 Sox with these words:

“For Boston is a tradition town
With a history to uphold
And when Bostonians remember -
This story will be told
Proudly fathers will tell their sons
Of this year and this team
How by courage and grip
And refusing to quit
They forged -
Our impossible dream.”

I turned off the recording and slowly walked upstairs. As I settled into bed a few minutes later, I recalled what my father had said to me in my old bedroom in Wellesley following the seventh game loss to St. Louis nearly four decades before.

“Maybe, son, what we are really sad this about this evening is that the magic – like all good things – has come to an end. That is something to mourn.”

He paused and patted my knee. “But you know what, Shaunie? What the Red Sox gave us this past season borders on the unachievable. Ultimately, we will thank God that we bore witness to it.”

Four decades have now passed, and those of us who lived through that remarkable year still fiercely cling to its memory for what it launched - the birth of Red Sox Nation – and for what it brought us – that at least for one time in our lives, the impossible was just not a dream.

My father, as usual, said it best. When reflecting on the ’67 Red Sox just a few days before his own passing, he whispered, “The best pleasures in life are always unexpected.”

Edited by jacklamabe65, 30 September 2007 - 06:53 PM.

#2 jacklamabe65

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 11:19 AM

Thanks for all the wonderful pms; it was fun writing the piece.

I thought that this might be a fun read on an off-day late in the season.

#3 AusTexSoxFan

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 11:22 AM

Wonderful story Shaun. Thank you for writing it. I can never get enough of hearing about the 1967 Red Sox.

Starting to get a little dusty in here....

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 02:43 PM

Terrific read. Many thanks.

Possible correction: Was Lonborg 21-9 going into the final regular-season game?

#5 bzcopter

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 06:41 PM

Thanks for all the wonderful pms; it was fun writing the piece.

I thought that this might be a fun read on an off-day late in the season.

You know what I remember the most about the final day of that season? Looking out my window onto the busy intersection of Watertown St. in Newton-and there was NO traffic as the game was about to begin. And then later that night Dad took us into Fenway and I remember a man hanging from the street sign at the corner of the players' parking lot. I was 13-I don't recall much more. Thanks for reminding me.

#6 SoxFanSince57

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 08:51 PM

Fabulous, just fabulous.

#7 LoweTek

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:04 PM

I remember where I was that day in October Shaun. I can't imagine being there at Fenway for it. I know there are a few of us around here who got the disease that year if not that day. I went to my first game ever during the White Sox series in late August, early September of '67. No one forgets that. Over the years I have met or come to know 15 of the 36 players who appeared for the team that year as well as Ken Coleman. Some are friends. Some are gone now. To a man, each every one of those 15 that I had the opportunity to speak with, especially Ken, remembered it all with much the same fondness you do. 2004 was unforgettable of course, but a very close second will always be that year. Thanks for bringing it back.

#8 Guest_Corsi Combover_*

Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:38 AM

I figure this fits here..

Fenway tribute for Conigliaro: Forty years to the day after he was hit in the left eye by a pitch from Angels right-hander Jack Hamilton, the late Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro will be honored in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park.

Conigliaro's career was never the same after he was beaned on Aug. 18, 1967. Less than a month before, the 22-year-old native of Revere, Mass., had become the youngest player to hit 100 career home runs.

Not until 1969 did Conigliaro return to baseball. He earned Comeback Player of the Year honors after that season, but he played only 241 more games for the rest of his career, plagued by vision problems. In 1982, Conigliaro suffered a debilitating heart attack, and in 1990, he died at the age of 45.

The Red Sox will remember Conigliaro before Saturday's game with an on-the-field video and audio tribute. Several members of Conigliaro's family are expected to attend.

Source: http://boston.redsox.......sp&c_id=bos

#9 SoxFanSince57

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 09:09 AM

The Tony C. beaning was the saddest and most tragic event in my baseball lifetime.

That said, Steve Buckley wrote a really good piece on Jack Hamilton in the Boston Herald. IMO, it is must reading for historians of the '67 season.

Hamilton, fateful pitch will be forever linked to Tony C


#10 Pumpsie

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:10 AM

Just caught up with this. Great job, Shaun. Thanks for the memories. That was an amazing season all right, and totally unexpected.

#11 CaptainLaddie

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:05 PM

Offhand, just why is October 1st, 1967 even close to October 27th, 2004?

#12 satyadaimoku

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:11 PM

Just a terrific article, thanks for posting it.

#13 The Allented Mr Ripley

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:40 PM

Offhand, just why is October 1st, 1967 even close to October 27th, 2004?

Generally speaking, without 1967 there would be no Red Sox Nation. Erase that year, and the Sox' 2004 WS victory might have had the same impact as the White Sox win of 2005, which is to say not much. Given their histories as established franchises and their respective championship droughts, the comparison is apt.

That may be hyperbole, but the team had stunk for years prior to '67 and fan interest was at an all-time low. If '67 never happened, maybe a '75 or an '86 would have rekindled the passion in the same way (assuming those World Series trips occurred in this alternate universe), but prior to '67 there was little to distinguish the Red Sox from a team like the White Sox in terms of their followers.

From a common sense standpoint, I'd say 10/27/04 is more important, but I personally think of the two dates as bookends to a pregnancy: 1967 as the conception and 2004 as the birth (with all the time in between being the gestation period). You can't have a birth without getting knocked up first.

Edited by The Allented Mr Ripley, 17 August 2007 - 03:45 PM.

#14 jacklamabe65

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:44 PM

Offhand, just why is October 1st, 1967 even close to October 27th, 2004?

Excellent question as always, Laddie.

Because the attendance figures were nearing the 550,00 mark, and there were rumors that Mr. Yawkey was going to either sell or move the team. Yawkey was even quoted as saying, "Lou Perini was smart; this is no baseball town."

Fact: When Dave Moorhead pitches a no-hitter with 600 people in the stands at Fenway on a seamless afternoon day in September, you know you're franchise is in great trouble. The Red Sox were the Victor Kiam Patriots back then. Look at what they've done since.

October 27, 2004 will remain our Golden Moment - the day and game that we will all think back to on a par with our wedding dates and the birthdates of our children..

However, I still think that October 1, 1967 is the most siginificant Red Sox date in history. We agree to disagree.

Edited by jacklamabe65, 17 August 2007 - 04:09 PM.

#15 LahoudOrBillyC

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:56 PM

Wonderful story, Jack, and much appreciated.

One thing I like to point out about 1967 that will hopefully add to one's understanding of the season. The 1967 Red Sox are more popular today than they were in 1967. Or rather, the appreciation of this team, by the standards of today, was pretty muted until very late in the season.

On Tuesday the 25th, the Red Sox were tied for first place at 90-68 with four home games to play. On that day and the next day they hosted the Indians for two games, Bell vs. Tiant and Lonborg vs. Siebert, two great matchups. The Red Sox drew 16,652 the first day, and 18,415 the next. Let's review this again. They were tied for first place with four games to go, and they sold half their tickets.

The Bobby Orr Bruins were selling out preseason games in this same era.

#16 bankshot1

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 04:14 PM

That was a great article Shaun.

One little remembered fact, although the '66 sox were 1/2 game out of last place, the 2nd half of that season they played reasonably good baseball, at least by Sox standards (a few games over .500), as the prospects started to come of age. And over .500 meant hope and to this teenager Sox fan that had seen some pretty bad baseball teams since 1957.

#17 SoxFanSince57

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 04:17 PM

LahoudOrBillyC, you may have been too young in '67, but the Sox had the city by the heart all season. You can't judge the excitement by the attendance standards of today. The Sox were 'the talk of the town'.

Plus, the fans did turn out in record numbers by historical standards. Their season attendance in 1967 was more than double the attendance of the 1966 team.

Sox Game Average: 10,014
Sox Season Total: 811,172
League Average: 1,016,674

Sox Game Average: 21,331
Sox Season Total: 1,727,832
League Average: 1,133,692

Sox Game Average: 23,960
Sox Season Total: 1,940,788
League Average: 1,131,739


Edited by SoxFanSince57, 17 August 2007 - 04:22 PM.

#18 doldmoose34

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:01 PM

Offhand, just why is October 1st, 1967 even close to October 27th, 2004?

Laddie, Rip and Shaun covered it, the birth of what is now the 'nation'.

This is kind of funny and ironic in a way, my brother and fanily were up from Fla last week, for the first time in 10 years. One of the many things we talked about was the way we used to go too so many games and now (for me and my brother who still lives up here) its usually just a handful. Pre'67, tickets were like the old Bill Vecek line 'what time does the game start? what time can you get here?' My old man had grown up in Somerville and a bunch of his friends were ushers at Fenway, one was the cheif. Dad would call him and tell him we were coming in, they would meet us at the press gate, we'd sit up in one the guys sections for the first inning, then if Dr Tierney wasn't at the game , the head usher would bring us down to his box next to the dugout, front row on the right field side. This is where I saw my heros, Felix Mantiia, Eddie Bresoud, and of course still my all time favorite Red Sox player, #7 Dick Stuart!

you know when Extra Innings, (not the one sponsered by the world's best office supply and furniture company, had to get a commercial in there), but MLB package that has the free preview for cheap skates like me, and you watch say a Minn /Texas or Rockies/Brewers game for a couple innings with the promos dropped in for Bat Day, Bobblehead Night, Family day, etc etc etc.. They were at Fenway too, right up until the early 80s

But the question is, why does this day matter? Like Cousin Shaun I was a 12 year old kid in 1967 who loved baseball, for the 17 previous years, it really didnt matter in Boston. The race, especialy the 10 game winning streak in July got everyone to take notice.

Most of us 8,10,12 years olds back then are now in our late 40s early 50s the love of the game that we discovered that year is what we carried on and spread to our childern, the generations of fans that piss off home teams across the country..

on Sept 30, 1967 I was in a sold out Alumni Stadium at BC watching the Eagles play Army, a big game at the time, most of the crowd, while watching the football game had transistor radios, listing to the second to last game of the season.

I was also lucky, in a strange way, I got mono in Sept 1967, and after the first 2 days of school, I was home sick until mid october, so i got to listen or watch every game

Again back to the question, I think that the suprise ending of the Sox and then Tigers games added to the day, while 10/27/04 that outcome was perhaps, not that much in doubt, if not that night, then the next one we'd have won. This is not to take anything away from 10/27/04, that was the single greatest night of my life, the only thing that I ever wanted to see come true...

funny, as I sit here, I realize that while I've just defended its importance 10/1/67 is all time day #3

1) 10/27/04
2) 11/20/93 (ask Zach Crouch)
3) 10/1/67

#19 jacklamabe65

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:21 PM

Cousin Frank's No. 2 refers to the BC Eagles defeating Notre Dame in South Bend during the Coughlin Era.

May 10, 1970 would be right up there as well!

Thanks for the memories, Moose!

#20 LahoudOrBillyC

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 06:09 PM

LahoudOrBillyC, you may have been too young in '67, but the Sox had the city by the heart all season. You can't judge the excitement by the attendance standards of today. The Sox were 'the talk of the town'.

Maybe, but I think its important for the fan of today to understand what "had the city by the heart" meant. It meant getting decent crowds on the weekends but 15,000 during the week, even in the last week of the pennant race. It is nothing like it is today.

I went to a couple of games this season, and it was not remotely comparable in electricity or excitement to watching the Bruins play in 1970 (which I also did) walking by hundreds of scalpers. I say this speaking as a baseball fan, and someone who has not seen an NHL game in person since 1974.

1967 is when the worm started to turn. It was an exciting season.

#21 doldmoose34

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 08:47 AM

Cousin Frank's No. 2 refers to the BC Eagles defeating Notre Dame in South Bend during the Coughlin Era. aka the David Gordon/ Glenn Foley game

May 10, 1970 would be right up there as well!

Thanks for the memories, Moose!

41 yard attempt

I've got 5/10/70 at number 5, with the day after thanksgiving 1984 at number 4

I think/hope the wife realizes that 9/11/87 didn't make the top 5

Edited by doldmoose34, 18 August 2007 - 09:51 AM.

#22 bankshot1

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 10:35 AM

Maybe, but I think its important for the fan of today to understand what "had the city by the heart" meant. It meant getting decent crowds on the weekends but 15,000 during the week, even in the last week of the pennant race. It is nothing like it is today.

You're right it is nothing like today-not even close-you didn't get charged $15 to be a part of RSN, or have to buy September tickets in February, you could get them day of the game at face value.

It also meant staying up late listening to Ned at nite doing West coast games, or watching Don Gillis give the scores, or trying to pull in way out of town stations.

IMO, and its been said before, '67 re-charged baseball in Boston and introduced the concept of what a pennant race meant to a new generation of fans. At to this fan it was the greatest pennant race ever, and always will be.

Edited by bankshot1, 18 August 2007 - 10:37 AM.

#23 Norm Siebern

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 03:09 PM

I deeply love my wife, children and family. But I will never forget the "first time."

To me that is the difference. My family is 2004; but the excitement of the first time is 1967.

Edited by Norm Siebern, 18 August 2007 - 03:11 PM.

#24 jacklamabe65

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 06:39 AM

I deeply love my wife, children and family. But I will never forget the "first time."

To me that is the difference. My family is 2004; but the excitement of the first time is 1967.

An apt comparison, Norm.

In terms of comparisons, the turnaround against the Yankees that astonished us all during the third week of October in 2004 was a condensed sense of wonder that we felt all season long back in 1967. In addition, those of you too young to remember when the leagues had no divisions cannot imagine how much more difficult it was to actually win a pennant back then. There were no second chances - the regular season did not allow for any in the end. Thus, when the Sox actually won the pennant against arguably better teams than the Twins and the Tigers (see Detroit the following year), it was miraculous on so many levels. Still, what happened in the last two weeks nearly three autumns ago rightfully stands on its own.

#25 NYCSox

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 02:09 PM

This is probably the right place to wish Yaz a happy 68th birthday.

#26 jacklamabe65

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:45 PM

Forty years ago....Red Sox Nation was born. It doesn't seem possible that it was that long ago.

For all of us who were lucky to have remembered October 1, 1967, it would remain the best baseball-related day of our lives until the evening of October 27, 2004.

Lonborg and champagne indeed.

#27 LahoudOrBillyC

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:57 PM

You can purchase an audio recording of this game at this link.

It is the NBC feed -- Gowdy, Koufax and Reese. I listened to the game on a long car ride this past week, and it was really great. I am sure some of you will be disappointed its not Martin, Coleman, and Parnell, but the game is spectacular. They continually cut to Tony Kubek at Tiger Stadium, who updates us on the first game there, which the Tigers won, and the start of the second game. The emotion of the crowd (which was dead in the middle of the game when the Sox were losing) is very noticeable and commented on by Gowdy. The sixth inning rally is so loud it is difficult to hear the play-by-play.

I recommend it highly.

The 161st game, the day before, you can watch on DVD of course.

#28 bellyofthebeast

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 09:15 PM

I took the time to sort out the names of the players you mentioned and for whom I still have vivid recolletions of their '67 baseball cards. For me, this was a wonderful return to boyhood! My Dad, who taught me to keep loving the Sox even after we left Boston in '65 (and who frequently complained that Joe Foy "couldn't hit is way out of a paper bag") passed away long ago. But we watched the last day of the '67 season together and it was the most important day in my life as a fan. BTW, I woke up my Dad's youngest grandson to watch the final inning of the '04 WS. A 4 year old (at the time) named Max.

Thanks Shaun!

Jim Lonborg, Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, George Scott, Jim Fregosi, Paul Schaal, Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Ron Hansen, Whitey Ford, Billy Rohr, Bill Robinson, Joe Foy, Tom Tresh, Joe Pepitone, Elston Howard, Gary Wasleswki, Hoyt Wilhelm, Walt “No Neck” Williams, Eddie Stanky, Don Buford, Ken Berry, Mike Andrews, Tommy McCraw, Dave Morehead, Jose Santiago, Sparky Lyle, Jerry Adair, Gary Bell, Jack Hamilton, Jose Tartabull, Tommy John, Jim Merritt, Dean Chance, Harmon Killebrew, Cesar Tovar, Dalton Jones, Zolio Versailles, Ken Harrelson, Bob Allison, Ted Uhlaender, Rod Carew, Dick McAuliffe, George Brunet, Bobby Knoop, Don Mincher, Bob Gibson, Julian Javier, Nellie Briles, Dick Hughes

Edit: Had The Boomer in there twice.

Edited by bellyofthebeast, 01 October 2007 - 10:52 AM.