A hundred years ago this week, just days after the Titanic settled in a watery grave in the North Atlantic, the Red Sox opened a brand new baseball field, called, Fenway Park, in Boston.
On April 20, the Sox will officially celebrate their Centennial (or Fen-tennial) anniversary at Fenway. Fittingly, the Sox opponent that day will be the New York Yankees — the same team that helped Boston open Fenway Park 100 years ago.
That day in 1912, the Red Sox beat the Yankees (then called the Highlanders) in 11 innings. Major John F. Fitzgerald, the grandfather of John F. Kennedy, threw out the first pitch.. The Boston Globe reported “Tristram Speaker, the Texas sharpshooter, with two down in the 11th inning and Steve Yerkes, on third, smashed the ball too fast for the shortstop to handle and the winning run came over the plate, making the score 7 to 6, and the immense crowd leaving for home for a cold supper, but wreathed in smiles.”
The Red Sox played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, the present site of Northeastern University, for their first 11 years in the American League before moving to Fenway. Owner John I. Taylor named the park for its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.
In chronological order, here are the 10 most memorable games in Fenway Park history.
1912: Red Sox 3, Giants 2 (10 innings), Game 8, World Series
In the deciding game of the 1912 World Series (Game 2 ended in a 6-6 tie), Boston spotted New York a run in the top of the 10th inning, then took advantage of two Giant misplays to beat the great Christy Mathewson and win the title. First Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball by leadoff batter Clyde Engle, an error that came to be known as the “$30,000 Muff” (referring to the winner’s share). Given life when the Giants failed to catch his foul pop, Tris Speaker singled to knock in the tying run. The winning run scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Bill Gardner that plated Steve Yerkes, giving the Sox a dramatic victory and their second World Championship.
Three titles in four years
1918, Red Sox 2, Cubs 1, Game 6, World Series
The Red Sox clinched both the 1915 and 1916 World Series at Braves Field, as they chose to play on the National League site because of its larger seating capacity. But in 1918 they beat the Cubs in six games to win their third World Series in four years and fifth overall. It was a Series dominated by pitching and capped by a three-hitter by Boston’s Carly Mays in Game 6. Neither team scored more than three runs in a game and there wasn’t a single home run hit in the Series. The victorious Sox batted .186 and the losing Cubs swung a lowly .210.
Post-War World Series
1946: Red Sox 6, Cardinals 3, Game Five, World Series
In their first appearance in the Fall Classic in 28 years, the Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the World Series by knocking off St. Louis 6-3. Joe Dobson hurled a four-hitter and struck out eight batters, and Leon Culberson homered to lead the Red Sox attack. When the Series returned to St. Louis, the Cardinals won the final two games. Enos Slaughter scored the winning run in the eighth inning of Game Seven as Boston’s Johnny Pesky made a belated throw to the plate.
All-Boston Series…not quite
1948: Indians 8, Red Sox 3, American League playoff
Player-manager and shortstop Lou Boudreau hit a pair of solo home runs and went 4-for-4 and third baseman Ken Keltner hit a three-run shot as the Tribe beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the American League pennant. Cleveland southpaw Gene Bearden got the win, besting surprise starter Denny Galehouse. Boston manager Joe McCarthy said he had no rested arms, although both Mel Parnell and Ellis Kinder claimed they were ready. The Red Sox loss prevented an all-Boston World Series. Cleveland went on to beat the Braves in six games for its second and last World Championship.
Runs, runs, runs
1950, Red Sox 29, Browns 4
In June of 1950, Boston pounded out 28 hits and set a MLB record with 29 run (broken when Texas scored 30 runs against the Orioles in 2007) in a rout of the St. Louis Browns. Dobby Doerr led the attack with three home runs and eight RBIs. Walt Dropo hit two home runs and had seven RBIs and Ted Williams two HRs and five RBIs. Johnny Pesky and Al Zarilla had five hits apiece. The day before, the Red Sox beat St. Louis 20-4. (Three years later, in 1953, the Red Sox set a MLB record with 17 runs in the seventh inning of a 23-3 win against the Tigers. Gene Stephens got three hits and Sammy White scored three runs in a frame that saw 14 hits and six walks.)
Ted Williams final at bat
1960, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Ted Williams moment. And Ted’s final moment was a classic. In this final at bat before retirement, Williams hit a long home run in his final at bat. But let John Updike describe, from his immortal essay Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu. “Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle, behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in the books while it was still in the sky. (Jackie) Brandt ran back to the deepest corner of the outfield grass; the ball descended beyond his reach and struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and, as far as I could see, vanished.” Afterwards. Williams refused to tip his cap to the adoring Fenway faithful. As Updike explained, “Gods do not answer letters.”
‘The Impossible Dream’
1967, Red Sox 5, Twins 3
In 1967, the American League had one of the great pennant races in history. Four teams — the Tigers, White Sox, Twins and Red Sox — battled all season, and from September 15 until the last day of the season, all remained within two games of each other. The Red Sox were the surprise team of the bunch after finishing ninth the previous season. Coming into the season’s final day, the Red Sox and Twins were tied for first place with the Tigers one-half game back. The Red Sox beat the Twins as eventual MVP and Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski goes 4-for-4 and eventual Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg got the win. The Tigers could have tied the Red Sox if they swept a doubleheader from the Angels, but after winning the first game the Detroit bullpen failed in the nighcap. For the first time in 21 years, the Red Sox made it to the World Series.
Fisk wills it fair
1975, Red Sox 7, Reds 6, 12 innings, Game 6, World Series
This was the signature moment in one of the greatest World Series ever staged. Cincinnati led the series 3-2, and appeared on the precipice of its their first World Series since 1940. But Bernie Carbo’s dramatic pinch-hit three run home run in the eighth tied the game 6-6. Boston had a chance to win it in the ninth but failed to score after loading the bases with nobody out. In the 11th, Red Sox right-fielder Dwight Evans robbed Joe Morgan with a tremendous catch. Finally, Boston catcher Carlton Fisk sent a long drive into the night, and signalled the ball to stay fair it hit the left field foul pole for a game-winning home run. The Reds would win the World Series the next night when Joe Morgan singled home Ken Griffey Sr. with two outs in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win.
Bucky ‘Bleepin’ Dent
1978, Yankees 5, Red Sox 4, AL East playoff
It was a game in a season, and a season in a game. After 162 games, the old rivals were dead even with 99 wins apiece, necessitating a one-game playoff to decide the American League East. Carl Yastrzemski hit an early home run against Ron Guidry. But then Bucky Dent struck with a three-run homer that just cleared Fenway’s 37-foot high left field wall. The game came down to the last at bat, and when Yaz popped to Graig Nettles the Yankees completed their comeback from 14 1/2 game behind in July.
The great comeback
2004, Red Sox 6, Yankees 4, 12 innings; Red Sox 5, Yankees 4, 14 innings, Games 4 and 5, American League Championship Series
It seemed certain the Curse of the Bambino would continue after the Yankees beat the Red Sox 19-8 to take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS. No MLB team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. The Yankees took a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning of Game Four, but the Sox scratched out a run against Mariano Rivera, then won it in the 12th on a two-run homer by David Ortiz. Boston rallied again the next night, tying the game with a pair of runs in the eighth and winning it on a base hit by Ortiz (who else) in the 14th. The Red Sox would go on to win the pennant, destroying the Yankees 10-3 in the seventh game at Yankee Stadium. And then they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games to win their first World Series in 86 years.
If Kentucky wins the NCAAs, you can count on a Yankee parade down Broadway this fall.
The last six times Kentucky has won the NCAA men’s basketball title, the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series.
The Wildcats have won seven titles overall, second only to UCLA’s 11 and by far the most of any team in this year’s Final Four. Kansas has taken three, Louisville two and Ohio State one.
Kentucky won its first championship in 1948, the year the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win their last World Series.
Kentucky repeated in 1949, beating Oklahoma State in the final, under the tutelage of immortal coach Adolph Rupp, the “Baron of the Bluegrass.”
Rupp, fourth all-time with 876 victories, would go on to win in 1951 (against Kansas State) and 1958 (against Seattle) for a total of four championships.
Meanwhile the Yankees were winning five World Series in a row between 1949 and 1953 under another legendary leader, Casey Stengel. In 1958, the Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves.
It took Kentucky 20 years to return to the mountaintop, when coach Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats defeated Duke for the 1978 national championship. That fall, the Yankees rallied to knock off the Red Sox on Bucky Dent’s home run, then repeated against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Louisville (which meets Kentucky in a Final Four intra-state rivalry on Saturday), coached the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1996. Two years later, coach Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to its last championship, against Utah.
Meanwhile, Joe Torre piloted the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 (vs. the Braves) and 1998 (vs. the Padres).
Of the other Final Four finalists, Kansas won its first championship in 1952, followed by a Yankee win over the Dodgers. Ohio State’s only title occurred in 1960, the year the Yankees lost the Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And although the Yankees didn’t win the World Series following Louisville’s 1986 title run, the Mets did.
Kentucky is heavily favored to cut down the nets Monday night. And if they do, the Yankees can start planning a parade down Broadway
Move over Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone and David Tyree. You’ve got company. Meet the Jets!
From the Dodgers to Mets, Red Sox to Yankees, he was known as a baseball lifer.
Can you name this former baseball player, coach, and manager?
1. He was replaced by Brooklyn’s Sandy Amoros just before Amoros made his famous catch that helped the Dodgers beat the Yankees and win their first World Series in 1955?
2. He was the first third baseman in New York Mets history? (He singled in his first at bat, but hit just .077 and was traded to the Reds in May).
3. He was the last player to wear #14 for the Cincinnati Reds before Pete Rose
4. Among other nicknames, he was called “Popeye” and “The Gerbil.”
5. He rented Bucky Dent’s house in New Jersey when the Yankee shortstop was traded to Texas in 1982?
6. He initiated the discussion with Billy Martin that turned into the Pine Tar incident in the summer of 1983?
If you guessed Don Zimmer, you are correct. Zimmer began his career with the Dodgers in 1954, later played for the Cubs, Mets, Red, and Senators, and retired in 1965 with 91 home runs and a .235 lifetime batting average.
Zimmer is still remembered in Boston for the Red Sox epic 1978 collapse, most notably for starting Bobby Sprowl instead of Bill “Spaceman” Lee in the finale of a four-game New York sweep called the Fenway Massacre that turned the season around for both teams.
He later managed the Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs, and was Joe Torre’s bench coach during the Yankees run of championships in the late 90s. Nearly 80, Zimmer is still active with the Tampa Bay Rays as a senior advisor.
It was a tough call, but in the end Bucky Dent won out. The SportsLifer’s top 50 memorable sports events attended came down to a pair of decisive baseball games between the Red Sox and Yankees 25 years apart.
Bucky Dent’s decisive three-run homer against the Red Sox in the 1978 American League East playoff game at Fenway Park in Boston got the nod. The Dent game edged out Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning of the 2003 American League Championship Series contest at Yankee Stadium.
The tiebreaker — the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978 to win the World Series. The 2003 Yankees lost to the World Series to the Florida Marlins.
Other top 10 entrants include a Stanley Cup final, World Series clincher, Super Bowl, Triple Crown horse race, NCAA basketball Final Four and Winter Olympics. Counting a major golf tournament, the ‘Lifer has seen all the major championship sporting events, with the exception of the NBA Finals.
Here’s the final countdown.
TOP 10 SPORTING EVENTS
10. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Ted Williams homer in the same game, Yankees beat Red Sox 5-4, 1960
9. Figure skating, speed skating, the men’s long ski jump and snowmobiling, Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City, 2002
8. Florida repeats as national champion with win over Ohio State, Final Four, NCAA Tournament, Atlanta, 2007
7. Affirmed edges Alydar down the stretch, wins by a neck and captures horse racing’s last Triple Crown, Belmont Stakes, 1978
6. David Wells pitches the first perfect game at Yankee Stadium since Don Larsen, Yankees beat Twins 4-0, 1998
5. Ravens defense overwhelms Giants, Baltimore defeats News York 34-7 and wins Super Bowl XXXV, 2001
4. Yankees beat Braves 4-1, complete four-game sweep of Atlanta to win World Series, Yankee Stadium,1999
3. Rangers end 54-year hex, Mark Messier scores game-winnng goal to beat Vancouver Canucks 3-2 and win Stanley Cup, 1994
2. Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in 11th beats Red Sox 6-5, gives Yankees 39th AL pennant, Yankee Stadium, 2003
1. Bucky Dent ‘s three-run homer propels Yankees to 5-4 win over Red Sox and AL East title, Fenway Park, 1978
My first major league game features six Hall of Famers, White Sox 7, Yankees 1, Yankee Stadium 1958
First installment: 41-50. includes the St. Louis Hawks, Holy Cross, and a Ranger rout.
Second installment: 31-40. stars Lew Alcindor, The Mick, and the Boston Marathon.
Third installment: (21-30), recalls the play of Willie Mays, Joe Namath and Lawrence Taylor and others.
Fourth installment, (11-20). includes record-setting moments by Barry Bonds, Jim Hickman, Roger Clemens and Eric Young.