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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

95 Years in the Making

One game…the Boston Red Sox are just one World Series win away from winning a World Series in front of their home fans for the first time since 1918. The Red Sox undid generations of disappointment and heartbreak by breaking The Curse of the Babe in 2004 by sweeping the same St. Louis Cardinals franchise that they are dueling in this year’s World Series. That triumph, closed out in St. Louis in Game 4 of that series, followed four days in October in which they completed a historic comeback from down three games to none to beat the New York Yankees in seven games in the 2004 American League Championship series.

Not only was “The Curse” over, but the Red Sox were a mini-dynasty in the making. The Red Sox were the front runners in the American League every year until 2012, when the team underwent a major management and personnel overhaul. The Red Sox won another championship, eliminating the Colorado Rockies by completing a four game sweep at Coors Field in Denver.

This year, Red Sox fans have a chance to see their team win the ultimate prize at Fenway Park. Such a win would extinguish any last vestige of the “The Curse” – the declaration of Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher & outfielder Babe Ruth, who had just set the MLB single season home run record with 29, that the Red Sox would never win another World Series after selling his contract to the New York Yankees following the 1919 season. It only took 86 years to prove Ruth wrong.


A World Series Championship won by the Red Sox at Fenway Park would be historic for several reasons. These include the history of the park itself (in service since 1912), the legacy of the franchise, and the futility of the team celebrating a World Series championship in their own park. Of course, Red Sox fans need not get caught up in too much history, which has only begun to smile upon them recently.

The Red Sox, since 1918, had won the American League pennant four times prior to their breakthrough 2004 season. Four times, they were eliminated in seven games (twice by the Cardinals). The two of those Game 7 disappointments ended with a visiting team, not the Red Sox, popping champagne bottles and celebrating at Fenway.

Of course, arguably the cruelest twist of Red Sox World Series fate was not in a Game 7, but was in a Game 6. For those of you who are under the age of 35 or not lifelong baseball fans, the Red Sox led the New York Mets three games to two in the 1986 World Series. The Mets trailed by two runs with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 10th inning at Shea Stadium. Three quick singles later, the winning run, Ray Knight was at first base while the tying run, Kevin Mitchell, was at third.

Red Sox reliever Bob Stanley served up a wild pitch that allowed Mitchell to score and tie the game and send Knight into scoring position at second base. Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson was at bat. He hit an easy dribbler down the first base line. All Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner had to do was pick the ball up, step on the bag, and the Red Sox would get another chance to win in the 11th inning.

If you don’t know what happened, why tell you, when I can show you (see video at the end)? The Mets would go on to win Game 7 and the World Series the following night, 8-5, with a late inning surge.
There are auras of Red Sox history surrounding Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) of the 2013 World Series at Fenway. Once the first pitch is thrown, the history is just that – history. But lifelong fans of Red Sox and baseball will not be able to ignore the looming specters of baseball’s past serving as a backdrop to the concluding game(s) of this series.

The most infamous play in Red Sox history.

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