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Boston Red Sox Tailgating
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston,Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball‘s American League Eastern Division. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League’s eight charter franchises, the Red Sox’s home ballpark has been Fenway Park since1912. The “Red Sox” name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, around 1908, following previous Boston teams that had been known as the “Red Stockings“. They have played in 11 World Series, winning 7.
Boston was a dominant team in the new league, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903 and winning four more championships by 1918. However, they then went into one of the longest championshipdroughts in baseball history, called by some the "Curse of the Bambino" after its alleged beginning with the Red Sox's sale of Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees two years after their world championship in 1918, an 86-year wait before the team's sixth World Championship in 2004. However, the team's history during that period was hardly one of futility, but was rather punctuated with some of the most memorable moments in World Series history, includingEnos Slaughter's "mad dash" in 1946, the "Impossible Dream" of 1967, Carlton Fisk's home run in 1975, and Bill Buckner's error in 1986. Red Sox history has also been marked by the team's intense rivalry with the New York Yankees, arguably the fiercest and most historic in North American professional sports.
The Boston Red Sox are owned by Fenway Sports Group, who also ownLiverpool Football Club of the Premier League in England. The Red Sox are consistently one of the top MLB teams in average road attendance, while the small capacity of Fenway Park prevents them from leading in overall attendance. From May 15, 2003 to April 10, 2013, the Red Sox sold out every home game — a total of 820 games (794 regular season) for a major professional sports record that lasted almost a decade.
The name Red Sox, chosen by owner John I. Taylor after the 1907 season, refers to the red hose in the team uniform beginning 1908. Sox had been previously adopted for the Chicago White Sox by newspapers needing a headline-friendly form of Stockings, as "Stockings Win!" in large type would not fit on a page. The team name "Red Sox" had previously been used as early as 1888 by a 'colored' team from Norfolk, Virginia. The Spanish language media sometimes refers to the team as Medias Rojas, a translation of "red socks".
The Red Stockings nickname was first used for a baseball team by theCincinnati Red Stockings, who were members of the pioneering National Association of Base Ball Players. Managed by Harry Wright, Cincinnati adopted a uniform with white knickers and red stockings, and earned the famous nickname, a year or two before hiring the first fully professional team in 1869. When the club folded after the 1870 season, Wright was hired by Boston businessman Ivers Whitney Adams to organize a new team in Boston, and he did, bringing three teammates and the "Red Stockings" nickname along (Most nicknames were then only nicknames, neither club names nor registered trademarks, so the migration was informal). The Boston Red Stockings won four championships in the five seasons of the new National Association, the first professional league.
When a new Cincinnati club was formed as a charter member of the National League in 1876, the "Red Stockings" nickname was commonly reserved for them once again, and the Boston team was referred to as the "Red Caps". Other names were sometimes used before Boston officially adopted the nickname "Braves" in 1912; the club eventually left Boston for Milwaukee and is now playing inAtlanta, Georgia.
In 1901, the upstart American League established a competing club in Boston. (Originally, a team was supposed to be started in Buffalo, but league ownership at the last minute removed that city from their plans in favor of the expansion Boston franchise.) For seven seasons, the AL team wore dark blue stockings and had no official nickname. They were simply "Boston", "Bostonians" or "the Bostons"; or the "Americans" or "Boston Americans" as in "American Leaguers", Boston being a two-team city. Their 1901–1907 jerseys, both home and road, simply read "Boston", except for 1902 when they sported large letters "B" and "A" denoting "Boston" and "American." Newspaper writers of the time used other nicknames for the club, including "Somersets" (for owner Charles Somers), "Plymouth Rocks", "Beaneaters", the "Collinsites" (for manager Jimmy Collins)", and "Pilgrims."
For years many sources have listed "Pilgrims" as the early Boston AL team's official nickname, but researcher Bill Nowlin has demonstrated that the name was barely used, if at all, during the team's early years. The origin of the nickname appears to be a poem entitled "The Pilgrims At Home" written by Edwin Fitzwilliam that was sung at the 1907 home opener ("Rory O’More" melody). This nickname was commonly used during that season, perhaps because the team had a new manager and several rookie players. John I. Taylor had said in December 1907 that the Pilgrims "sounded too much like homeless wanderers."
The National League club in Boston, though seldom called the "Red Stockings" anymore, still wore red trim. In 1907, the National League club adopted an all-white uniform, and the American League team saw an opportunity. On December 18, 1907, Taylor announced that the club had officially adopted red as its new team color. The 1908 uniforms featured a large icon of a red stocking angling across the shirt front. For 1908, the National League club returned to wearing red trim, but the American League team finally had an official nickname, and would remain the "Red Sox" for good.
The name is often shortened to "Bosox" or "BoSox", a combination of "Boston" and "Sox" (similar to the "ChiSox" in Chicago or the minor league "PawSox" of Pawtucket). Sportswriters sometimes refer to the Red Sox as the Crimson Hose and the Olde Towne Team. Recently, media has begun to casually call them the "Sawx", reflecting how the word is pronounced with a New England accent. However, most fans simply refer to the team as the "Sox" when the context is understood to mean Red Sox.
The team's formal corporate name has been said to be the "Boston American League Baseball Company" or "Club", which seems to be borne out by this current-day photograph of the street-door to the stadium, at 24 Yawkey Way; that entrance also figures in Robert B. Parker's Spenser-and-baseball novel Mortal Stakes.
In 1901, the minor Western League, led by Ban Johnson, declared its equality with theNational League, then the only major league in baseball. Johnson changed the name of the league to the American League, leading teams in his league to be christened with the unofficial nickname "Americans". This was especially true in the case of the new Boston franchise, which would not adopt an official nickname until 1908.
The upstart league placed franchises in Baltimore, Maryland and Buffalo. After looking at his new league, Ban Johnson decided that he would need a team in Boston to compete with the National League team there, and so cancelled the Buffalo club's franchise, offering one to a new club in Boston. Playing their home games atHuntington Avenue Grounds, the Boston franchise finished second and third before capturing their first pennant in 1903 and repeating the next year. Those teams were led by manager and star third baseman Jimmy Collins, outfielders Chick Stahl, Buck Freeman, and Patsy Dougherty, and pitcher Cy Young, who in 1901 won the pitchingTriple Crown with 33 wins (41.8% of the team's 79 games), 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts. His 1901 to 1904 seasons rank among the best four-year runs ever.
In 1903, Boston participated in the first modern World Series, beating the favored Pittsburgh Pirates, winners of the NL pennant, by six and a half games, winning the best-of-nine series five games to three. Aided by the modified chants of "Tessie" by the Royal Rootersfan club and by its stronger pitching staff, the Americans managed to overcome the odds, and win the World Series.
The 1904 club was almost as good as the previous team, but due to the surprise emergence of the New York Highlanders, the Boston club found itself in a tight pennant race through the last games of the season. A predecessor to what would become a storied rivalry, this race featured such controversial moves as the trade of Patsy Dougherty to the Highlanders for Bob Unglaub. The climax of the season occurred on the last, dramatic doubleheader at the Highlanders’ home stadium, Hilltop Park. In order to win the pennant, the Highlanders needed to win both games. With Jack Chesbro, the Highlanders' 41-game winner, on the mound, and the score tied 2–2 with a man on third in the top of the ninth, a spitball got away from Chesbro and Lou Crigerscored the go-ahead run on one of the most famous wild pitches in history.
Unfortunately, the NL champion New York Giants declined to play anypostseason series, fearing it would give their New York rivals credibility (they had expected the Highlanders to win), but a sharp public reaction led the two leagues immediately to make the World Series a permanent championship, starting in 1905. These successful times soon ended, however, asBoston lost 100 games in 1906. However, several new star players helped the newly renamed Red Sox improve almost immediately.
By 1909, legendary center fielder Tris Speaker had become a fixture in the Boston outfield, and the team worked their way to third place. However, the Red Sox would not win the pennant again until their 105-win 1912 season, finishing with a club record .691 winning percentage. Anchored by an outfield considered to be among the finest in the game—Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis—and superstar pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, the Red Sox beat the New York Giants 4–3–1 in the classic 1912 World Series best known forSnodgrass's Muff. From 1913 to 1916 the Red Sox were owned by Joseph Lannin, who signed Babe Ruth, soon the best-known and one of the best players ever. Another 101 wins in 1915 propelled the Red Sox to the 1915 World Series, where they beat thePhiladelphia Phillies four games to one. Following the 1915 season, Tris Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians. His departure was more than compensated for, however, by the emergence of star pitcher Babe Ruth. The Red Sox went on to win the 1916 World Series, this time defeating the Brooklyn Robins. In 1918, Babe Ruth led his team to another World Series championship, this time over the Chicago Cubs.
Sale of Babe Ruth and Aftermath (1920-38)
Harry Frazee bought the Red Sox from Joseph Lannin in 1916 for about $500,000. A couple of notable trades involving Harry Frazee and the Yankees occurred before the Babe Ruth sale. On December 18, 1918, outstanding outfielder Duffy Lewis, pitcher Dutch Leonard (who had posted a modern record 0.96 ERA in 1914), and pitcher Ernie Shore were traded to the Yankees for pitcher Ray Caldwell, Slim Love, Roxy Walters, Frank Gilhooley and $15,000. As all three players were well regarded in Boston—Lewis had been a key player on the 1910s championship teams, Shore had famously relieved Babe Ruth and retired 27 straight, and Leonard had only four years before setting a modern record for earned run average—this trade was regarded as a poor one in Boston. Then, on July 13, 1919, submarine-style pitching star Carl Mays was traded to the Yankees for Bob McGraw, Allan Russell and $40,000. Mays would go on to have several good years for the Yankees, but had been a discipline problem for the Red Sox.
On December 26, 1919, Frazee sold Babe Ruth, who had played the previous six seasons for the Red Sox, to the rival New York Yankees (Ruth had just broken the single-season home run record, hitting 29 in 1919.) Legend has it that Frazee did so in order to finance theBroadway play No, No, Nanette. That play did not actually open on Broadway until 1925, but as Leigh Montville discovered during research for his book, The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth, No, No, Nanette had originated as a non-musical stage play called My Lady Friends, which opened on Broadway in December 1919. My Lady Friends had, indeed, been financed by the Ruth sale to the Yankees.
During that period, the Red Sox, Yankees and Chicago White Sox had a détente; they were called "Insurrectos" because their actions antagonized league president Ban Johnson. Although Frazee owned the Boston Red Sox franchise, he did not own Fenway Park (it was owned by the Fenway Park Trust), making his ownership a precarious one; Johnson could move another team into the ballpark. His club was in debt, but Frazee felt the need to purchase its playing site (which he did in 1920). Further, providing the Yankees with a box office attraction would help that mediocre club, which had sided with him against Johnson and "the Loyal Five" clubs. Finally, Ruth was considered a serious disciplinary problem, a reputation he amply confirmed while playing for the Yankees. Frazee moved Ruth to stabilize Red Sox finances and cut distractions. It was a straight sale, no players in return.
New York achieved great success after acquiring Ruth and several other very good players. The sale of Babe Ruth came to be viewed as the beginning of the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry, considered the "Greatest Rivalry on Earth" by American sports journalists.
After deciding to get out of baseball, Frazee began selling many of his star players. In the winter of 1920,Wally Schang, Waite Hoyt, Harry Harper and Mike McNally were traded to the Yankees for Del Pratt, Muddy Ruel, John Costello, Hank Thormahlen, Sammy Vick and cash. The following winter, iron man shortstopEverett Scott, and pitchers Bullet Joe Bush and Sad Sam Jones were traded to the Yankees for Roger Peckinpaugh (who would be immediately shipped to the Washington Senators), Jack Quinn, Rip Collins, Bill Piercy and $50,000. On July 23, 1922, Joe Dugan and Elmer Smith were traded to the Yankees for Elmer Miller, Chick Fewster, Johnny Mitchell, and Lefty O'Doul, who was at the time a mediocre pitching prospect. Acquiring Dugan helped the Yankees edge the St. Louis Browns in a tight pennant race, and the resulting uproar helped create a June 15 trading deadline that went into effect the next year. Perhaps an even more outrageous deal was the trade of Herb Pennock, occurring in early 1923. Pennock was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees for Camp Skinner, Norm McMillan, George Murray and $50,000.
The loss of so much talent sent the Red Sox into free fall, even with the money Frazee earned from the trades. During the 1920s and early 1930s, they were fixtures in the second division, never finishing closer than 20 games out of first. The losses only mounted when Frazee sold the team to Bob Quinn in 1923. During an eight-year period from 1925 to 1932, the Red Sox averaged over 100 losses per season, bottoming out in 1932 with a record of 43-111, still the worst record in franchise history. One of the few bright spots on these teams was Earl Webb, who set the all-time mark for most doubles in a season in 1931 with 67. The BoSox’ fortunes began to change in 1933 when Tom Yawkey bought the team. Yawkey acquired pitcher Wes Ferrell and one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, Lefty Grove, making his team competitive once again in the late thirties. He also acquired Joe Cronin, an outstanding shortstop and manager and slugging first baseman Jimmie Foxx whose 50 home runs in 1938 would stand as a club record for 68 years. Foxx also drove in a club record 175 runs.
In 1939, the Red Sox purchased the contract of outfielder Ted Williams from the minor league San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, ushering in an era of the team sometimes called the "Ted Sox." Williams consistently hit for both high power and high average, and is generally considered one of the greatest hitters of all time. The right-field bullpens in Fenway were built in part for Williams' left-handed swing, and are sometimes called "Williamsburg." Before this addition, it was over 400 feet (120 m) to right field. He served two stints in the United States Marine Corps as a pilot and saw active duty in both World War II and the Korean War, missing at least five full seasons of baseball. His book The Science of Hitting is widely read by students of baseball. He is currently the last player to hit over .400 for a full season, batting .406 in 1941. Williams feuded with sports writers his whole career, calling them "The Knights of the Keyboard", and his relationship with the fans was often rocky as he was seen spitting towards the stands on more than one occasion.
With Williams, the Red Sox reached the 1946 World Series, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in part because of the use of the "Williams Shift", a defensive tactic in which the shortstop would move to the right side of the infield to make it harder for the left-handed-hitting Williams to hit to that side of the field. Some have claimed that he was too proud to hit to the other side of the field, not wanting to let the Cardinals take away his game. His performance may have also been affected by a pitch he took in the elbow in an exhibition game a few days earlier. Either way, in his only World Series, Williams gathered just five singles in 25 at-bats for a .200 average.
The Cardinals won the 1946 Series when Enos Slaughter scored the go-ahead run all the way from first base on a base hit to left field. The throw from Leon Culberson was cut off by shortstop Johnny Pesky, who relayed the ball to the plate just a hair too late. Some say Pesky hesitated or "held the ball" before he turned to throw the ball, but this has been disputed.
Along with Williams and Pesky, the Red Sox featured several other star players during the 1940s, including second baseman Bobby Doerr and center fielder Dom DiMaggio (the younger brother of Joe DiMaggio).
The Red Sox narrowly lost the AL pennant in 1948 and 1949. In 1948, Boston finished in a tie with Cleveland, and their loss to Cleveland in a one-game playoff ended hopes of an all-Boston World Series. Curiously, manager Joseph McCarthy chose journeymanDenny Galehouse to start the playoff game when the young lefty phenom Mel Parnell was available to pitch. In 1949, the Red Sox were one game ahead of the New York Yankees, with the only two games left for both teams being against each other, and they lost both of those games.
The 1950s were viewed as a time of tribulation for the Red Sox. After Williams returned from the Korean War in 1953, many of the best players from the late 1940s had retired or been traded. The stark contrast in the team led critics to call the Red Sox' daily lineup "Ted Williams and the Seven Dwarfs." Jackie Robinson was even worked out by the team at Fenway Park, however it appeared that owner Tom Yawkey did not want an African American player on his team at that time. Willie Mays also tried out for Boston and was highly praised by team scouts. Ted Williams hit .388 at the age of 38 in 1957, but there was little else for Boston fans to root for. Williams retired at the end of the 1960 season, famously hitting a home run in his final at-bat as memorialized in the John Updike story "Hub fans bid Kid adieu." The Red Sox finally became the last Major League team to field an African American player when they promoted infielder Pumpsie Green from their AAA farm team in 1959.
The 1960s also started poorly for the Red Sox, though 1961 saw the debut of Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski, Williams' replacement in left field, who developed into one of the better hitters of a pitching-rich decade.
Red Sox fans know 1967 as the season of the "Impossible Dream." The slogan refers to the hit song from the popular musical play"Man of La Mancha". 1967 saw one of the great pennant races in baseball history with four teams in the AL pennant race until almost the last game. The BoSox had finished the 1966 season in ninth place, but they found new life with Yastrzemski as the team went to the 1967 World Series, only to lose the Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Yastrzemski won the American League Triple Crown (the most recent player to accomplish such a feat until Miguel Cabrera did so in 2012), hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs. He finished one vote short of a unanimous MVP selection, as a Minnesota sportswriter placed Twins center fielder César Tovarfirst on his ballot. But the Red Sox lost the series—again to the St. Louis Cardinals, in seven games. Legendary pitcher Bob Gibsonstymied the Red Sox winning three games.
An 18-year-old Bostonian rookie named Tony Conigliaro slugged 24 home runs in 1964. "Tony C" became the youngest player in Major League Baseball to hit his 100th home run, a record that stands today. He was struck just above the left cheek bone by a fastball thrown by Jack Hamilton of the California Angels on Friday, August 18, 1967 and sat out the entire next season with headaches and blurred vision. Although he did have a productive season in 1970, he was never the same.
Although the Red Sox were competitive for much of the late 1960s and early 1970s, they never finished higher than second place in their division. The closest they came to a divisional title was 1972, when they lost by a half-game to the Detroit Tigers. The start of the season was delayed by a players' strike, and the Red Sox had lost one more game to the strike than the Tigers had. Games lost to the strike were not made up. The Red Sox went to Detroit with a half-game lead for the final series of the season, but lost the first two of those three and were eliminated from the pennant race.
The Red Sox won the AL pennant in 1975. The 1975 Red Sox were as colorful as they were talented, with Yastrzemski and rookie outfielders Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, veteran outfielder Dwight Evans,catcher Carlton Fisk, and pitchers Luis Tiant and eccentric junkballer Bill "The Spaceman" Lee. Fred Lynn won both the American League Rookie of the Year award and the Most Valuable Player award, a feat which had never previously been accomplished, and was not duplicated until Ichiro Suzuki did it in 2001. In the 1975 American League Championship Series, the Red Sox swept the Oakland A's.
In the 1975 World Series, they faced the heavily favored Cincinnati Reds, also known as The Big Red Machine. Luis Tiant won games 1 and 4 of the World Series but after five games, the Red Sox trailed the series 3 games to 2. Game 6 at Fenway Park is considered among the greatest games in postseason history. Down 6–3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Red Sox pinch hitter Bernie Carbo hit a three-run homer into the center field bleachers off Reds fireman Rawly Eastwick to tie the game. In the top of the eleventh inning, right fielder Dwight Evans made a spectacular catch of a Joe Morgan line drive and doubled Ken Griffey at first base to preserve the tie. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Carlton Fisk hit a deep fly ball which sliced towards the left field foul pole above the Green Monster. As the ball sailed into the night, Fisk waved his arms frantically towards fair territory, seemingly pleading with the ball not to go foul. The ball complied, and bedlam ensued at Fenway as Fisk rounded the bases to win the game for the Red Sox 7–6.
The Red Sox lost game 7, 4–3 even though they had an early 3–0 lead. Starting pitcher Bill Lee threw a slow looping curve which he called a "Leephus pitch" or "space ball" to Reds first baseman Tony Pérez who hit the ball over the Green Monster and across the street. The Reds scored the winning run in the 9th inning. Carlton Fisk said famously about the 1975 World Series, "We won that thing 3 games to 4."
1978 pennant race
In 1978, the Red Sox and the Yankees were involved in a tight pennant race. The Yankees were 14 1⁄2 games behind the Red Sox in July, and on September 10, after completing a 4-game sweep of the Red Sox (known as "The Boston Massacre"), the Yankees tied for the divisional lead.
On September 16 the Yankees held a 3 1⁄2 game lead over the Red Sox, but the Sox won 11 of their next 13 games and by the final day of the season, the Yankees' magic number to win the division was one—with a win over Cleveland or a Boston loss to the Toronto Blue Jays clinching the division. However, New York lost 9–2 and Boston won 5–0, forcing a one-game playoff to be held at Fenway Park on Monday, October 2.
The most remembered moment from the game was Bucky Dent's 7th inning three-run home run in off Mike Torrez just over the Green Monster, giving the Yankees their first lead. Reggie Jackson provided a solo home run in the 8th that proved to be the difference in the Yankees' 5–4 win, which ended with Yastrzemski popping out to Graig Nettles in foul territory with Rick Burleson representing the tying run at third. Although Dent became a Red Sox demon, the Red Sox would get retribution in 1990 when the Yankees fired Dent as their manager during a series at Fenway Park.
However, in 1986, it appeared that the team's fortunes were about to change. The offense had remained strong with Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Don Baylor and Wade Boggs. Roger Clemens led the pitching staff, going 24–4 with a 2.48 ERA, and had a 20-strikeout game to win both the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards. Clemens became the first starting pitcher to win both awards since Vida Blue in 1971.
The Red Sox won the AL East for the first time in 11 seasons, and faced the California Angels in the AL Championship Series. The teams split the first two games in Boston, but the Angels won the next two home games, taking a 3–1 lead in the series. With the Angels poised to win the series, the Red Sox trailed 5–2 heading into the ninth inning of Game 5. A two-run homer by Baylor cut the lead to one. With two outs and a runner on, and one strike away from elimination, Dave Henderson homered off Donnie Moore to put Boston up 6–5. Although the Angels tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox won in the 11th on a Henderson sacrifice fly off Moore. The Red Sox then found themselves with six- and seven-run wins at Fenway Park in Games 6 and 7 to win the American League title.
The Red Sox faced a heavily favored New York Mets team that had won 108 games in the regular season in the 1986 World Series. Boston won the first two games in Shea Stadium but lost the next two at Fenway, knotting the series at 2 games apiece. After Bruce Hurst recorded his second victory of the series in Game 5, the Red Sox returned to Shea Stadium looking to garner their first championship in 68 years. However, Game 6 would go down as one of the most devastating losses in club history. After pitching seven strong innings, Clemens was lifted from the game with a 3–2 lead. Years later, Manager John McNamara said Clemens was suffering from a blister and asked to be taken out of the game, a claim Clemens denied. The Mets then scored a run off reliever and former Met Calvin Schiraldi to tie the score 3–3. The game went to extra innings, where the Red Sox took a 5–3 lead in the top of the 10th on a solo home run by Henderson, a double by Boggs and an RBI single by second baseman Marty Barrett.
After recording two outs in the bottom of the 10th, a graphic appeared on the NBC telecast hailing Barrett as the Player of the Game, and Bruce Hurst had been named World Series MVP. A message even appeared briefly on the Shea Stadium scoreboard congratulating the Red Sox as world champions. After so many years of abject frustration, Red Sox fans around the world could taste victory. With the count at two balls and one strike, Mets catcher Gary Carter hit a single. It was followed by singles by Kevin Mitchelland Ray Knight. With Mookie Wilson batting, a wild pitch by Bob Stanley tied the game at 5. Wilson then hit a slow ground ball to first; the ball rolled through Bill Buckner's legs, allowing Knight to score the winning run from second.
While Buckner was singled out as responsible for the loss, many observers—as well as both Wilson and Buckner—have noted that even if Buckner had fielded the ball cleanly, the speedy Wilson probably would still have been safe, leaving the game-winning run at third with two out.
Many observers questioned why Buckner was in the game at that point considering he had bad knees and that Dave Stapleton had come in as a late-inning defensive replacement in prior series games. It appeared as though McNamara was trying to reward Buckner for his long and illustrious career by leaving him in the game. After falling behind 3–0, the Mets then won Game 7, concluding the devastating collapse and feeding the myth that the Red Sox were "cursed."
This World Series loss had a strange twist: Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman was vice-president, player personnel, of the Mets from 1980 to 1983. Working under Mets' GM Frank Cashen, with whom Gorman served with the Orioles, he helped lay the foundation for the Mets' championship.
The Red Sox returned to the postseason in 1988. With the club in fourth place midway through the 1988 season at the All-Star break, manager John McNamara was fired and replaced by Joe Morgan on July 15. Immediately the club won 12 games in a row, and 19 of 20 overall, to surge to the AL East title in what would be referred to as Morgan Magic. But the magic was short-lived, as the team was swept by the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS. Ironically, the MVP of that Series was former Red Sox pitcher and Baseball Hall of Fame player Dennis Eckersley, who saved all four wins for Oakland. Two years later, in 1990, the Red Sox would again win the division and face the Athletics in the ALCS. However, the outcome was the same, with the A's sweeping the ALCS in four straight.
In 1990, Yankees fans started to chant "1918!" to taunt the Red Sox. The demeaning chant would echo at Yankee Stadium each time the Red Sox were there. Also, Fenway Park became the scene of Bucky Dent's worst moment as a manager, although it was where he had his greatest triumph. In June, when the Red Sox swept the Yankees during a four-game series at Fenway Park, the Yankees fired Dent as their manager. Red Sox fans felt retribution to Dent being fired on their field, but the Yankees used him as a scapegoat. However, Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe severely criticized Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner for firing Dent—his 18th managerial change in as many years since becoming owner—in Boston and said he should "have waited until the Yankees got to Baltimore" to fire Dent. He said that "if Dent had been fired in Seattle or Milwaukee, this would have been just another event in an endless line of George's jettisons. But it happened in Boston and the nightly news had its hook." "The firing was only special because...it's the first time a Yankee manager—who was also a Red Sox demon—was purged on the ancient Indian burial grounds of the Back Bay."
Tom Yawkey died in 1976, and his wife Jean R. Yawkey took control of the team until her death in 1992. Their initials are shown in two stripes on the left field wall in Morse code. Upon Jean's death, control of the team passed to the Yawkey Trust, led by John Harrington. The trust sold the team in 2002, concluding 70 years of Yawkey ownership.
In 1994, General Manager Lou Gorman was replaced by Dan Duquette, a Massachusetts native who had worked for the Montreal Expos. Duquette revived the team's farm system, which during his tenure produced players such as Nomar Garciaparra, Carl Pavanoand David Eckstein. Duquette also spent money on free agents, notably an eight-year, $160 million deal for Manny Ramírez after the2000 season.
The Red Sox won the newly realigned American League East in 1995, finishing seven games ahead of the Yankees. However, they were swept in three games in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. Their postseason losing streak reached 13 straight games, dating back to the 1986 World Series.
Roger Clemens tied his major league record by fanning 20 Detroit Tigers on September 18, 1996 in what would prove to be one of his final appearances in a Red Sox uniform. After Clemens had turned 30 and then had four seasons, 1993–96, which were by his standards mediocre at best, Duquette said the pitcher was entering "the twilight of his career". Clemens went on to pitch well for another ten years and win four more Cy Young awards.
Out of contention in 1997, the team traded closer Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for catching prospect Jason Varitek and right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe. Prior to the start of the 1998 season, the Red Sox dealt pitchers Tony Armas, Jr. and Carl Pavano to the Montreal Expos for pitcher Pedro Martínez. Martínez became the anchor of the team's pitching staff and turned in several outstanding seasons. In 1998, the team won the American League Wild Card, but again lost the American League Division Series to the Indians.
In 1999, Duquette called Fenway Park "economically obsolete" and, along with Red Sox ownership, led a push for a new stadium.
On the field, the 1999 Red Sox were finally able to overturn their fortunes against the Indians. Cleveland took a 2–0 series lead, but Boston won the next three games behind strong pitching by Derek Lowe, Pedro Martínez and his brother Ramón Martínez. Game 4's 23–7 win by the Red Sox was the highest-scoring playoff game in major league history. Game 5 began with the Indians taking a 5–2 lead after two innings, but Pedro Martínez, nursing a shoulder injury, came on in the fourth inning and pitched six innings without allowing a hit while the team's offense rallied for a 12–8 win behind two home runs and seven RBIs from outfielder Troy O'Leary. After the ALDS victory, the Red Sox lost the American League Championship Series to the Yankees, four games to one. The one bright spot was a lopsided win for the Red Sox in the much-hyped Martinez-Clemens game.
2002–present: John Henry era
In 2002, the Red Sox were sold by Yawkey trustee and president Harrington to New England Sports Ventures, a consortium headed by principal owner John Henry. Tom Werner served as executive chairman, Larry Lucchino served as president and CEO, and serving as vice chairman was Les Otten. Dan Duquette was fired as GM of the club on February 28, with former Angels GM Mike Port taking the helm for the 2002 season. A week later, manager Joe Kerrigan was fired and was replaced by Grady Little.
While nearly all offseason moves were made under Duquette, such as signing outfielder Johnny Damon away from the Oakland Athletics, the new ownership made additions such as outfielder Cliff Floyd and relief pitcher Alan Embree. Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramírez, and Floyd all hit well, while Pedro Martínez put up his usual outstanding numbers. Derek Lowe, newly converted into a starter, won 20 games—becoming the first player to save 20 games and win 20 games in back-to-back seasons.
After failing to reach the playoffs, Port was replaced by Yale University graduate Theo Epstein. Epstein, raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, and just 28 at the time of his hiring, became the youngest general manager in MLB history.
The Red Sox celebrate their clinching of the 2003 AL Wild Card with a victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The 2003 team was known as the "Cowboy Up" team, a nickname derived from first baseman Kevin Millar's challenge to his teammates to show more determination. In the2003 American League Division Series, the Red Sox rallied from a 0–2 series deficit against the Athletics to win the best-of-five series. Derek Lowe returned to his former relief pitching role to save Game 5, a 4–3 victory. The team then faced the Yankees in the 2003 American League Championship Series. In Game 7, Boston led 5–2 in the eighth inning, but Pedro Martínez allowed three runs to tie the game. The Red Sox could not score off Mariano Riveraover the last three innings and eventually lost the game 6–5 when Yankee third basemanAaron Boone hit a solo home run off of Tim Wakefield. Some placed the blame for the loss on manager Grady Little for failing to remove starting pitcher Martínez in the 8th inning after some observers believe he began to show signs of tiring. Others credited Little with the team's successful season and dramatic come-from-behind victory in the ALDS. Nevertheless, Boston's management did not renew Little's contract, and hired former Philadelphia Phillies manager Terry Francona.
2004: World Series Championship
During the 2003–04 offseason, the Red Sox acquired another ace pitcher, Curt Schilling, and a closer, Keith Foulke. Due to some midseason struggles with injuries, management shook up the team at the July 31 trading deadline as part of a four-team trade. The Red Sox traded the team's popular, yet oft-injured, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and outfielder Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs, and received first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz from the Minnesota Twins, and shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos. In a separate transaction, the Red Sox acquired center fielder Dave Roberts from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following the trades, the club won 22 out of 25 games and qualified for the playoffs as the AL Wild Card. Players and fans affectionately referred to the players as "the Idiots", a term coined by Damon and Millar during the playoff push to describe the team's eclectic roster and devil-may-care attitude toward their supposed "curse."
Boston began the postseason by sweeping the AL West champion Anaheim Angels in the ALDS. In the third game of the series, David Ortiz hit a walk-off two-run homer in the 10th inning to win the game and the series to advance to a rematch of the previous year's ALCS in the ALCS against the Yankees. The ALCS started very poorly for the Red Sox, as they lost the first three games (including a crushing 19-8 home loss in game 3). In Game 4, the Red Sox found themselves facing elimination, trailing 4–3 in the ninth with Mariano Rivera in to close for the Yankees. After Rivera issued a walk to Millar, Roberts came on to pinch run and promptly stole second base. He then scored on an RBI single by Bill Mueller, sending the game into extra innings. The Red Sox went on to win the game on a two-run home run by Ortiz in the 12th inning, who also made the walk-off hit in the 14th inning of game 5. The comeback continued with a victory from an injured Schilling in game 6. Three sutures being used to stabilize the tendon in Schilling's right ankle bled throughout the game, famously making his sock appear bloody red. The Red Sox completed their historic comeback in game 7 with a 10-3 defeat of the Yankees. Ortiz, who had the game-winning RBIs in Games 4 and 5, was named ALCS Most Valuable Player. The Red Sox joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders as the only professional sports teams in history at the time to win a best-of-seven games series after being down three games to none. The 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers would also accomplish the feat, coincidentally against the Boston Bruins.
The Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox never trailed throughout the series; Mark Bellhorn's hit a game-winning home run off Pesky's Pole in game 1, and Schilling pitched another bloodied-sock victory in game 2, followed by similarly masterful pitching performances by Martinez and Derek Lowe. It was the Red Sox' first championship in 86 years. Manny Ramírez was named World Series MVP. To add a final, surreal touch to Boston's championship season, on the night of Game 4 a total lunar eclipse colored the moon red over Busch Stadium. The Red Sox earned many accolades from the sports media and throughout the nation for their incredible season, such as in December, when Sports Illustrated named the Boston Red Sox the 2004 Sportsmen of the Year.
The 2005 AL East would be decided on the last weekend of the season, with the Yankees coming to Fenway Park with a one-game lead in the standings. The Red Sox won two of the three games to finish the season with the same record as the Yankees, 95–67. However, a playoff was not needed, as the loser of such a playoff would still make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. As the Yankees had won the season series, they were awarded the division title, and the Red Sox competed in the playoffs as the Wild Card. Boston failed to defend their championship, and was swept in three games by the eventual 2005 World Series champion Chicago White Sox in the first round of the playoffs. After the season, general manager Theo Epstein resigned rather than accept a contract extension.
In November 2005, the Red Sox announced the acquisition of pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell from the Florida Marlins, while sending several prospects including Hanley Ramírez to the Marlins. Fan-favorite Johnny Damon signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the rival Yankees, whom he had earlier vowed never to play for. The team filled the vacancy in center field by trading for Cleveland Indians center fielder Coco Crisp. However, Crisp fractured his left index finger in April and would end up missing over 50 games in 2006. Meanwhile, in January 2006, Epstein came to terms with the Red Sox and was once again named General Manager.
The revamped Red Sox infield, with third baseman Lowell joining new shortstop Álex González, second baseman Mark Loretta, and first baseman Kevin Youkilis (formerly the team's third baseman) was one of the best-fielding infields in baseball. The Red Sox committed the fewest errors in the American League in 2006, and set a major league record of 17 consecutive errorless games. One of the brightest spots of the 2006 season was the emergence of new closer Jonathan Papelbon, who became the first Red Sox rookie to be credited with 35 saves, earning an All-Star appearance. Also, David Ortizbroke Jimmie Foxx's single season Red Sox home run record by hitting 54 homers. However, Boston failed to make the playoffs after compiling a 9–21 record in the month of August due to injuries to catcher Jason Varitek, outfielder Trot Nixon, outfielder Manny Ramírez, pitcher Tim Wakefield, rookie pitcher Jon Lester (who was diagnosed with lymphoma), and pitcher Matt Clement. The Red Sox failed to make the playoffs as a result.
2007: World Series Championship
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Theo Epstein's first step toward restocking the team for 2007 was to pursue one of the most anticipated acquisitions in baseball history. On November 14, MLB announced that Boston had won the bid for the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese Nippon Professional Baseballsuperstar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Boston placed a bid of $51.1 million to negotiate with Matsuzaka and completed a 6-year, $52 million contract after they were announced as the winning bid.
The Red Sox moved into first place in the AL East by mid-April and never relinquished their division lead. Initially, rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia under-performed, hitting below .200 in April. Manager Terry Francona refused to bench him and his patience paid off as Pedroia eventually won the AL Rookie of the Year Award for his performance that season, which included 165 hits and a .317 batting average. On the mound, Josh Beckett emerged as the ace of the staff with his first 20-win season, as fellow starting pitchers Schilling, Matsuzaka, Wakefield and Julian Tavarez all struggled at times. Relief pitcher Hideki Okajima, another recent arrival from the NPB, posted an ERA of 0.88 through the first half and was selected for the All-Star Game. Okajima finished the season with a 2.22 ERA and 5 saves, emerging as one of baseball's top relievers. Minor league call-up Clay Buchholz provided a spark on September 1 by pitching a no-hitter in his second career start. The Red Sox captured their first AL East title since 1995.
The Red Sox swept the Angels in the ALDS. Facing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, the Red Sox fell in games 2, 3, and 4 before Beckett picked up his second victory of the series in game 5, starting a comeback. The Red Sox captured their twelfth American League pennant by outscoring the Indians 30–5 over the final three games. The Red Sox faced the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series, and swept the Rockies in four games. In Game 4, Wakefield gave up his spot in the rotation to a recovered Jon Lester, who gave the Red Sox an impressive start, pitching 5⅔ shutout innings. Key home runs late in the game by third baseman Mike Lowell and pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty secured the Red Sox' second title in four years, as Lowell was named World Series MVP.
2008-2012: Injuries and Collapses
The Red Sox struggled with injuries throughout the 2008 season. Injuries to Schilling, relief pitcher Mike Timlin, and Beckett landed each pitcher on the disabled list before the 2008 season began, putting added pressure on young starters Lester and Buchholz. Lester emerged as an anchor in the Red Sox rotation, leading the team in starts and innings pitched while compiling a 16–6 record and a 3.21 ERA. Buchholz meanwhile struggled mightily in 2008 to a 2–9 record, ending up back in the minor leagues. The Red Sox began their season by participating in the third opening day game in MLB history to be played in Japan, where they defeated the Oakland A's in the Tokyo Dome. On May 19, Lester threw the 18th no-hitter in team history, defeating the Kansas City Royals 7–0. However, despite early Red Sox success, the surprise Tampa Bay Rays in early July. Injuries would take a toll on the Red Sox offense during the season, most notably when David Ortiz missed 45 games with an injured wrist, Mike Lowell missed weeks with a torn hip labrum, and outfielder J.D. Drew aggravated a back injury that shelved him for much of the second half of the season. Down the stretch, outfielder Manny Ramirez became embroiled in controversy surrounding public incidents with fellow players and other team employees, as well as criticism of ownership and not playing, which some claimed was due to laziness and nonexistent injuries. The front office decided to move the disgrunted outfielder at the July 31 trade deadline, shipping him to the Dodgers in a three-way deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates that landed them Jason Bay to replace him in left field.With Ramirez gone, and Bay providing a new spark in the lineup, the Red Sox improved vastly and made the playoffs as the AL Wild Card.
Behind the strong playoff pitching of Lester, the Red Sox defeated the Angels in the 2008 ALDS three games to one. The Red Sox then took on their AL East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS. Down three games to one in the 5th game of the ALCS, Boston mounted a comeback from trailing 7-0 in the 7th inning to win 8-7. They tied the series at 3 games apiece with a game 6 victory before losing game 7, 3–1, thus becoming the eighth team in a row since 2000 to fail to repeat as world champions.
In 2009, the Red Sox got into a rough start, but then won eleven games in a row. During the first half of the season, star slugger David Ortiz had a very bad slump with a .185 average and one sole home run. In response to poor offensive performance and to make room for Jed Lowrie's return from injury, shortstop Julio Lugo was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash and two minor-league players were traded to the Pirates for first baseman Adam LaRoche on July 22, who was soon traded to the Atlanta Braves for Casey Kotchman.The Red Sox made a big move at the July 31 trade deadline, acquiring catcher Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for three pitchers. The Red Sox lost the last six games of the 2009 season to place the team second in the AL East, with the Yankees (who would later win the World Series). The Red Sox entered the playoffs via the Wild Card, but were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in three games.
The Red Sox' 2010 season was highlighted by its many injuries to its players despite new additions to the team such as starting pitcher John Lackey, outfielder Mike Cameron and infielderMarco Scutaro. Matsuzaka, Pedroia, and Youkilis ended the season early to recover his health, and Ellsbury spent most of the season on the bench due to injuries. The Red Sox missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, finishing in third place in the AL East. After the season, Lowell decided to retire.
The Red Sox acquired superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in an attempt to help the team return to the playoffs. The Red Sox struggled early in 2011, falling to an 0-6 start for the first time since 1945. However, they gradually made their way into playoff contention by July, thanks to a potent offense which made up for a decimated pitching staff. Matsuzaka and Buchholz ended their season with injuries, while new additions such as Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves and relief pitcher Daniel Bard proved their worth filling in for injured pitchers. After rookie pitcher Kyle Weilandproved ineffective, the Red Sox made a three-way trade, giving up some prospects for Érik Bédard. Due to further injuries in September, the Red Sox lost 11 out of 14 in that month, and their postseason aspirations were ultimately destroyed on September 28, 2011, losing to the Orioles by a score of 4–3 while the Rays clinched the American League Wild Card with a win over the Yankees on the same night. The Red Sox missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since missing three straight postseasons from 2000-2002. Following the season, the Red Sox declined to exercise Terry Francona's 2012 contract option. After the season, there was much controversy when it was claimed that the clubhouse didn't have solid leadership. On some days, starting pitchers Lackey, Beckett, and Lester spent time in the dugout drinking when they should have paid attention to the ballgame. Lester and the rest of the responsible pitchers stressed that they were only drinking when they had the day off pitching. After the tumultuous end of the season, Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs and was replaced by his previous assistant, Ben Cherington.
In December 2011, Bobby Valentine was hired as a new manager. At about the same time, longtime closer Papelbon signed with thePhiladelphia Phillies rather than the Red Sox. The 2012 season marked the centennial of Fenway Park, and on April 20, past and present Red Sox players and coaches assembled to celebrate the park's anniversary. However, the collapse that they endured in September 2011 carried over into the season. The Red Sox struggled throughout the season due to injuries, inconsistent play, and off-field news, and many attempts to better the team through trades and free agent signing failed. Amidst rumors that Valentine and Youkilis were not getting along, the Red Sox traded Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox on June 24. On August 25, the Red Sox sent struggling players Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford and infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James Loney and four minor league prospects. In addition to the clubhouse drinking, Beckett was also heavily connected to another incident where some of the players attended his charity bowling game rather than the funeral for the late Johnny Pesky, a longtime Red Sox shortstop, manager, and coach who died on August 13. Coupled with a bizarre and inconsistent season, the one-time ace became a pariah to Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox, realizing that the postseason was not in reach, decided to build with talent from their minor league system. Over the next few months, minor league callups Will Middlebrooks, Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Lavarnway and Daniel Nava were making regular appearances for the Red Sox. The Red Sox finished 69–93 for their first losing season since 1997, and their worst season since 1965.
Bobby Valentine was subsequently fired on October 4, 2012. Valentine has been replaced by John Farrell, who had spent the previous two seasons as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell was the pitching coach for the Red Sox from 2007–2010 before becoming manager of the Blue Jays.
2013: Return to Competition
Boston, which finished last in the American League East with a 69-93 record in 2012 -- 26 games behind the Yankees, became the 11th team in major league history to go from worst in the division to first the next season when it clinched the A.L. East division title on September 21st, 2013. Many credit the team's turn around with the hiring of manager John Farrell, the former Red Sox pitiching coach under Terry Francona from 2007-2010. As a former member of the staff, he had the respect of influential players such as Lester, Pedroia, and Ortiz. But there were other moves made in the offseason by general manager Ben Cherington who targeted "character" players to fill the team's needs. These acquisitions included veteran catcher David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. While some questioned these players as "re-treads", it was clear that Cherington was trying to move past 2011-2012 by bringing in "clubhouse players". Essential to the turn around, however, was the pitching staff. With ace veteran John Lackey coming off Tommy John surgery and both Jon Lester and Clay Buchholtz returning to their prior form, this allowed the team to rely less on their bullpen. Everything seemed in danger of collapsing, however, when both relievers, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey went down early with season-ending injuries. Farrell gave the closing job to Koji Uehara on June 21st and he has since performed spectacularly,boasting a 1.14 ERA as of September 21. On September 11, the 37 year old righty set a new Red Sox record when he retired 33 straight batters. Other reasons include the trade deadline acquisition of pitcher Jake Peavy when the Red Sox were in second place in the AL East, the depth of the bench with players such as Mike Carp and rookies Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, and the re-emergence of players such as Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava.