I must’ve been blanking out here, or hyperventilating, because the scorecard still lists Gossage as the pitcher. Or perhaps it was so after all.
Dwight (Dewey) Evans, one of my favourite Red Sox, is sent up to pinch-hit for Duffy (his first name escapes me -- is it Frank? Yes, the Baseball Encyclopedia confirms it). Evans flies out to left. Burleson walks. Remy lines a ball into right field where Piniella, fighting the low October sun that is setting right over the third-base side of Fenway’s roof, makes one of the most amazing plays you’ll ever see, holding Remy to a single.
This is what I remember: With one hand shielding the sun from his eyes, he blindly sticks out his glove and it somehow finds the ball, which really had some heat on it and already looked to be by him. If he doesn’t make the play, I don’t think you’re reading this. Who knows? I might not be here. Don Zimmer never wrestles Pedro. Maybe the Devil Rays are spared Sweet Lou, and vice-versa. We could go on and on.
Tying run on second, winning run on first, one out and the No. 3 and 4 batters are coming up – and what’s with Gossage?
He’s gotta be out of there by now. In the roachtrap, I’m pacing. One hit. Just one hit.
Rice flies out to right – yeah, that’s Piniella, and this time it’s a can of corn for him.
Two out, Yaz coming up. He pops one up, and your eyes follow him – the shoulders slump as he turns toward first for the obligatory run-it-out-moment, but he knows, you know, I know it’s over. The camera shifts to Nettles, settling under it, catching it, and it’s over. Yankees 5, Red Sox 4.
Yankees five runs, eight hits, no errors, six left on base. Red Sox four runs, 11 hits, no errors, nine left on base.
From the scorecard (PDF):
WP: Guidry. LP: Stanley. Time: 2:54.
NOTE: Scroll from the bottom and back up for the inning-by-inning.
Stanley grounds out, second to first. Bleepin’ strikes out swinging. Blair dumps a single into left. Zimmer -- yeah, he was a player once -- goes to the bullpen, Dick Drago in and Hassler’s day is over. Drago gets Munson to hit into a fielder’s choice, Burleson to Remy for the forceout at second.
Yankees 5, Red Sox 4. Last bats for the Red Sox: Duffy, Burleson, Remy.
Red Sox eighth
Remember, these were embryonic Blue Jay days in Toronto. Even though my brother and I were there in the snow for the first game – during one trip under the cover of the stands to get warm, we chatted with ex-Leaf Billy Harris, a big moment – it was still an expansion team that, in 1978, had gone a woeful but predictable 59-102. If you had a pre-Jays baseball affiliation, it was still there during times like these, or perhaps you followed the Expos. In the spring of ’74, my family took a trip to Florida. We saw a spring training game, the Phillies and the Red Sox. I was 14. I needed a team. I liked Ferguson Jenkins – what Canadian kid didn’t? -- but he had left the Cubs and I’d grown tired of their cursed existence, so naturally I chose Boston. A few months later, we all stayed up way past midnight – my dad, my brother, my uncle Ferdy in visiting and me – to watch what’s been called the finest baseball game ever played.
Paul Blair goes out to centre as a defensive replacement for Rivers, and Gary Thomasson is in left replacing White. Burleson doubles to right. Rice flies out to deep centre, Burleson staying at second. Yaz singles up the middle, scoring Burleson. Fisk singles to left, Yaz to second. Lynn singles to left, Yaz scoring on the play, Fisk to second.
According to my scorecard Gossage is still in the game, which seems strange, all these years later. I don't know if he was still in, or I had forgotten to note a pitching change. But this was a pivotal, up off the floor and taunt moment in the roachtrap, I do remember that.
Two on, one out, a 5-4 game. But Hobson flies out to right field. Scott strikes out. Two runs off four hits, two left.
Yankees 5, Red Sox 4. Due up for the Yankees: Stanley, Dent, Blair.
Duffy goes in to play third base with Brohamer out of the game. Jackson leads off with a homer to right.
Oh, the pain. This came within mere weeks of seeing Reggie Jax crooning Boogie Oogie Oogie between cuts during batting practice before a game at Exhibition Stadium. This is worse. Not by much, but worse.
Stanley heads for the showers, replaced by Andy Hassler. Nettles strikes out. Chambliss grounds out, second to first. White grounds out, second to first. One run on the Jackson homer, nobody left on.
Yankees 5, Red Sox 2. Due up for the Red Sox: Remy, Rice, Yaz.
Red Sox seventh
Stanley goes in to play second base in lieu of Doyle. Hobson strikes out swinging. Scott singles to right and moves up to second on a Munson passed ball. Zimmer sends up former Expo Bob Bailey to bat for Brohamer. Lemon, fifth in a long line of Steinbrenner
punching bags managers, counters by bringing in his closer, Rich (Goose) Gossage – seems awful early to bring in Gossage. Gossage strikes out Bailey swinging. Burleson grounds out, short to first. No runs, one hit, one left.
Yankees 4, Red Sox 2. Due up for the Yankees: Jackson, Nettles, Chambliss.
Although I never liked the Yankees (isn't it obvious by now?), I had a grudging respect for Jim Spencer, Piniella and Rivers, and possibly Chambliss and Nettles. On more than one occasion when they came to Toronto in those early days of the Jays, I would see them playing the afternoon away at Greenwood Racetrack, the old bullring that was torn down years ago (At least, I think I saw Chambliss and Nettles, the others I believe I know I saw there -- recall the mangled Yogism).
Greenwood was my second-best excuse to play hooky, a short streetcar away from downtown to an entirely different world. Seeing them there made for an affinity that transcended baseball – except on this day, of course.
Nettles leads off with a flyout to right. Big Chris Chambliss singles to left. White singles to right-centre, Chambliss to second. Two on, one out, and Bob Lemon, who took over from Billy Martin at midseason after Martin had a memorable dugout fight with Jackson during a nationally-televised Game of the Week (at Fenway, against the Red Sox, of course, while I watched and cackled and called my dad in to see), sends Greenwood habitue Spencer up to pinch-hit for the banjo-hitting Doyle. But Spencer flies out to Lynn in centre, and the runners stay put.
I’m breathing easier – it’s just little Bucky Dent coming up. And yup. Dent does it.
|And there it goes. Bucky Bleepin' Dent.|
It’s hit pretty good, you can even tell on my tiny set, and my heart is in my mouth as the camera angle shifts to the shot looking out toward the Green Monster, and up above it, there’s the ball, settling down into the netting that used to be there and has since been replaced by expensive, much sought after seats.
A couple of years back, I went to Fenway for the first time. Riding the
BART T (thanks Pete) on the way back, a couple of guys in their early 20s were talking, and I could tell they had sat in the Monster’s then-new seating area. I asked them what they were like. They said great. We talked about other stuff, Sox history and whatnot, and Dent’s name came up. As it always seems to.
Torrez is unraveling. Rivers works him for a walk, and that’s enough for Zimmer. He summons Bob (Steamer) Stanley from the bullpen. Munson – aw no, not him – steps into the box. Rivers promptly steals second. Munson booms a double to left-centre, Rivers in to score, and I feel like Leon Spinks. Piniella, eighth man up in the inning, flies out to right to end it. Four runs, four hits, one left.
Yankees 4, Red Sox 2. Due up for the Red Sox: Hobson, Scott, Brohamer.
Red Sox sixth
Top of the order, and Burleson drives a double to left to start it off. Remy sacrifices, Nettles charging in to handle the bunt and throw to first for the out, Burleson to third. Rice hits an RBI single to centre.
Another exclamation point in the scorecard! As the years would go by from here, there would be all kinds of notifiers added -- ARRGH! for a particularly wounding moment, or a star of sparkly thing like fireworks for high points. But at this point, I must be daring to dream. It is, of course, the worst mistake.
Yaz grounds to first, but Rice, running with the pitch I assume now, moves up to second on the play. Guidry intentionally walks Fisk.
I am getting a little agitato at this point, talking to the TV set and pointing, taunting.
Lynn steps up, runners at first and second – he gives it a decent ride, but it’s caught by Piniella in right. Another run, but also a wasted chance to add more.
Red Sox 2, Yankees 0. Due up for the Yankees: Nettles, Chambliss, White.
Munson, never a favourite in Boston – the feeling was mutual – strikes out swinging. Piniella flies out to Lynn in centre. Jackson grounds out, second to first.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for the Red Sox: Burleson, Remy, Rice.
Red Sox fifth
Lynn grounds back to the box, Guidry to Chambliss for the out. Hobson singles to left. Scott, who was always talking about hitting “taters”, strikes out swinging. Brohamer flies out to left.
Red Sox 1 run, three hits, no errors, two left on base. Yankees 0 runs, two hits, four left on base. Due up for the Yankees: Munson, Piniella, Jackson.
White walks. Doyle grounds to second baseman Remy, who tosses to Scott for the out at first, White advancing to second. Dent pops out to shortstop. Rivers grounds to Burleson, who guns the ball to Brohamer at third to cut down White, 6-to-5 putout on the play and the inning is over.
I remember the phone ringing again here, and it’s my old English teacher Peter M., who went to school in Boston for four years, including the Impossible Dream season of 1967. I’m feeling good as I tell him the score. Sox are looking sharp, but there’s also lots of this game still to be played.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for the Red Sox: Lynn, Hobson, Scott.
Red Sox fourth
Rice grounds out, Dent to Chambliss for the out. Yaz strikes out swinging, Guidry’s second K of the game. Fisk flies out to centre.
Red Sox 1 run, two hits, no errors, one left on base. Yankees 0 runs, two hits, no errors, three left on base. Due up for the Yankees: White, Doyle, Dent.
Piniella legs out an infield single to short. Jackson flies out to right field. Nettles pops up softly to shortstop, Piniella still standing at first.
The Fenway crowd is loving this, and I think at this point the phone rang and it was my dad, calling as he just got out of work, looking for an update. Historical note: as a teenager my father worked summers operating the scoreboard at Maple Leaf Stadium at the corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore (he also, for a time, worked as a stringer for The Star). It was a hand-operated scoreboard, with two kids doing the work inside a dark, cramped area behind the wall where they hung out the numbers – much like Fenway, actually. “It had the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen,” he said of the place. The highlight was taking the lineup card to the Leafs manager, Burleigh Grimes – my dad and the other guy working with him, who was much bigger, would alternate. “Well,” Grimes would say to my dad when it was his turn. “If it isn’t Little S---. Where’s Big S--- today?”)
Chambliss grounds to Burleson who steps on second to get Piniella for the final out.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for the Red Sox in the fourth: Rice, Yaz, Fisk.
Red Sox third
Scott doubles to centre. Brohamer lays down a sacrifice bunt, Munson to Chambliss for the out, Scott to third, one out. Burleson grounds out, third to first, Nettles holding Scott at third. Remy flies out to left, stranding Scott.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for Yankees in the fourth: Piniella, Jackson, Nettles.
Doyle -- Brian, not Denny -- pops to second. Dent gets decent wood on the ball, but it’s right to Lynn in centre for the out. Rivers lines one into the right-field corner and legs it out for a double. Munson strikes out, Fisk mishandling the last pitch but throwing to Scott at first for the out.
I never really got Thurman Munson, but since that moment in '75, I totally got Carlton Fisk. Their rivalry was pretty strong -- Midwest vs. New England, Yanks vs Red Sox -- and it always seemed to come through. This was one of those punch the air moments if you were a Boston fan.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for Red Sox: Scott, Brohamer, Burleson.
Red Sox second
Carl Yastrzemski leads off with a home run over the Green Monster.
On the scorecard, a little exclamation point goes down beside the play to mark the first real tickle of excitement.
Fisk follows with a fly to left. Lynn flies out to Rivers in centre. Hobson grounds out, third to first.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0. Due up for Yankees: Doyle, Dent, Rivers.
Nettles pops out to short. Chambliss lines out to Scott at first. White strikes out. Yankees 0, Red Sox 0. Due up for Boston: Yaz, Fisk, Lynn.
Red Sox first
Guidry on the mound.
Burleson strikes out. Remy flies out to left. Rice strikes out.
Yankees 0, Red Sox 0. Due up for Yankees: Nettles, Chambliss, White.
Yankees first inning
Torrez on the mound, Rivers-Munson-Piniella due up.
Rivers walks and steals second base. Munson strikes out. Piniella grounds out, third to first. Jackson flies out to left.
I must be taking this seriously. Even the starters' batting averages are in the scorebook.
Yankees 0, Red Sox coming to bat. Due up for Boston: Burleson, Remy, Rice.