By Ted Gay – @TedG63
Ted Williams stood on the top step of the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium staring with deep hatred across the field where Derek Jeter was trying to chat up an aloof Joe Dimaggio. Williams heard the loud pop of Pedro Martinez’s fastball hitting Carlton Fisk’s mitt in the bullpen. David Ortiz climbed up the dugout steps and stood next to the Splendid Splinter. He looked up at the starlit sky. “Good night to kick some Yankee ass,” Ortiz said.
The All-Time Red Sox team were about to face the All-Time Yankee team in a best of seven series. The New York fans were confident it would be a sweep. Yankee manager Joe Torre, who was named over Casey Stengel, when the Old Professor balked at carrying Mariano Rivera, finding a hurler who only pitches one inning foolish, warned fans that the Sox pitching would be hard to beat. “Torre is just trying to drum up interest in the series,” Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto said while hiding his resentment that he was in the press box and not on the field.
The Yankees took the field. Frank Sinatra sang the National Anthem. Lorne Michaels and Jackie Gleason settled into their seats. Yogi Berra prepared to catch his usual battery mate Whitey Ford. Wade Boggs waited on the on-deck circle until Bill Klem cried out “play ball.”
Ford struck out Boggs on a borderline 3-2 pitch, Dustin Pedroia grounded to Robinson Cano at second and Williams, infuriated when Alex Rodriguez moved from third to short right field as Torre implemented a shift, flew out to Bernie Williams in left field, one of the three Yankee centerfielders started by Torre including Dimaggio in center and an angry Mickey Mantle regulated to right. In the dugout, Babe Ruth ate a hot dog and wondered why the designated hitter wasn’t allowed in his day.
Martinez struck out Jeter and Cano to start the game then made good on his promise to drill Babe Ruth in the ass. He did not count on Lou Gehrig following Ruth by hitting a two-run homer causing the Yankee fans to chant “Who’s your Daddy?” They didn’t quiet after Mantle grounded out to Nomar Garciaparra to end the first.
Sox manager Terry Francona knew he couldn’t match the Yankees Murderers Row, but he hoped his team could eek out runs against the inferior Yankee starting pitching. But Ford went four innings before giving up a seeing-eye single to Carl Yastrzemski, who wasn’t speaking to Francona because he was playing first base and not left field. Fisk hit a ball in the gap that was gracefully cut off by Dimaggio holding Fisk to a single and sending Yaz to third. Tris Speaker lifted a medium fly ball to Mantle in right field. Sox third base coach Don Zimmer sent Yastrzemski testing Mantle’s arm. He was thrown out by three feet. Inside the Yankee dugout bench coach Don Zimmer laughed and muttered “idiot.” Dwight Evans grounded out to end the inning.
With the score, 2-0 Francona pulled Martinez with Yogi Berra and Alex Rodriguez on first and third and two out in the seventh. Dick Radatz struck out Bernie Williams to end the rally. Torre dipped into his bullpen for his Big Three of Sparky Lyle in the seventh, Goose Gossage in the eighth and Rivera in the ninth who set down nine consecutive Sox to give the Yankees a game one victory.
Roger Clemens was anxious to even the series for the Sox in Game 2. He took the mound wearing eye black and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shoelaces. He walked both Jeter and Cano to start the game. He tried to blow a fastball past Ruth who deposited it in the right-field stands as the jubilant Yankee fans rocked the Stadium. Clemens began to jaw at Nestor Chylak. He was moments from being ejected before Fisk held him back and Francona intercepted Chylak. Clemens got out of the inning without further damage, and, after being confronted by Williams and backup infielder, Bobby Doerr in the corridor leading to the cl\ubhouse came out in the second inning sans eye black and novelty shoelaces. He shut down the Yankees over the next six innings.
The Red Sox chipped away at the lead against Red Ruffing. Ortiz hit a solo homer in the third. Garciaparra, Pedroia, and Boggs combined for consecutive doubles to tie the game in the fifth. After Williams got on base for the first time in the series by working a walk in the sixth Ortiz followed with his second home run chasing Ruffing and giving the Sox a 5-3 lead.
Koji Uehara pitched a hitless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon was brought to shut door the door in the ninth. He walked Cano then induced Ruth to fly out to deep centerfield. Lou Gehrig doubled to right field. Dick Howser held Cano at third. Francona called for Mantle to be walked to load the bases. Papelbon got two strikes on Dimaggio then left too much of his fastball over the plate Dimaggio slammed the ball over the short right field porch giving the Yankees a 7-5 victory and put the disheartened Red Sox in a 0-2 hole.
The Sox were welcomed home by a Dan Shaughnessy column calling them the biggest bunch of frauds in baseball history, a Colonel Dave Egan article blaming the Sox woes on a hitless Williams, and Mike Felger going on a two hour rant when Francona decided to bench Yax, play Ortiz at first, and DH Manny Ramirez.
The moves paid off as Garciaparra, now moved up to the two hole, Williams, Ortiz, and Ramirez combined for four hits and three runs in the first off an overmatched Andy Petite. Cy Young vowed, before taking the hill at Fenway for the first time in his career, to prove “why my name is on the frickin’ trophy,” and shut out the Yankees over six innings. The Sox added two more runs in the fifth on consecutive singles by Pedroia, Boggs and Garciaparra followed by a Williams double. Young was relieved by Luis Tiant who baffled the Bronx Bombers for two more innings. Papelbon walked Jeter and gave up a two-run home run to Mantle in the night, but the Sox held on for a 5-3 win.
The temporary joy the Sox brought to Boston was turned to anger the next day when Francona’s decision to start Lefty Grove led to first-inning home runs by Ruth, Mantle, and Berra. The Sox were down six after a half inning. They only managed three hits off of Louisiana Lightning Ron Guidry and the Big Three. Homeruns by A-Rod and Cano plus four hits from Jeter combined to give the Yankees an 8-0 victory. Every caller to Boston talk radio lamented Fred Lynn not being included on the roster, which they were sure would have propelled the Sox to a four-game sweep. New York was planning a victory parade.
Before Game Five Kevin Millar was on the field telling anyone who would listen “don’t let us win today, because we’ve got Clemens going in Game Six and anything can happen in game seven.” After pestering several players, Millar was arrested and was served a restraining order barring him from Fenway for life.
Martinez and Ford settled into a masterful pitchers duel. No runner reached base in the first four innings. Francona decided to have Williams, who had loafed after two fly balls late in Game Four, DH and started Jim Rice instead of Yaz in left. When Rice struck out twice in two at-bats, Francona became a trending topic on Twitter.
The Red Sox squandered a chance in the fifth when Boggs lead off with a single and Garciaparra sacrificed him to second. Ford walked Williams. Ortiz lifted a pop up towards the stands behind third base. Jeter jumped six rows in the stands and caught the ball robbing Ortiz of his at-bat. Rice followed with his third strikeout of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth Garciaparra let a Mantle foul ball land in the first row because there was a fan nearby with a beer and Nomar didn’t want to get wet. Mantle took the next pitch over the wall in left for a 1-0 New York lead. In the top of the seventh Martinez left a ball too high in the zone and Jeter put it in the bullpen. With the Big Three ready to relieve Ford Boston Weak fans left the park to beat the traffic.
Tiant relieved Martinez in the eighth and kept it a two-run game. Jimmie Foxx pinch hit for Dwight Evans to lead off the ninth against Rivera and drew a walk. Dominic Dimaggio saw his first action of the series when he pinch ran. With a two-two count on Ramirez, who was hitting for Pedroia, Dimaggio broke for second base and barely beat Berra’s throw. Ramirez hit the next pitch into the gap between center field and right. Joe Dimaggio and Mantle collided trying unsuccessfully to make the catch. Mantle was left prone on the grass. Dimaggio weakly threw the ball in as Zimmer held Ramirez at third. Rico Petrocelli ran for Ramirez. Boggs lined a single over a leaping Jeter to tie the game.
Rivera pitched two more innings of perfect relief. Meanwhile Tiant kept twirling, spinning, and leg kicking in and out of trouble, getting saved by an over the shoulder, back to the field, catch by Evans in the tenth, Carlton Fisk picking A-Rod off of third base with one out in the eleventh, and Yastrzemski, put in as a defensive replacement for Rice, throwing Bernie Williams out at the plate in the twelfth.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the twelfth. Torre brought in Johnny Murphy to induce Yaz to pop up behind third and then Joe Page who struck out Fisk to end the inning right after Fisk lifted a high fly ball to left field, which despite Fisk’s desperate waving fair drifted to the left of the pole foul.
It took Tiant 34 pitches and 16 minutes to get through a one, two, three, thirteenth. Tiant fooled the Yanks into fouling off so many pictures umpires began offering fans signed bats in exchange for foul balls as the supply dwindled ignoring the fact that it is a horrible idea to give tired, angry Bostonian’s weapons.
Torre elected to have Mel Stottlemyre begin the thirteenth clean even though Page had only faced one batter in the twelfth. Dom Dimaggio greeted him with a triple and Petrocelli, who stayed in the game after running for Ramirez, lifted a fly ball over a drawn-in Mantle’s head to give the Red Sox the dramatic victory. Kevin Millar celebrated in his cell like Dennis Hopper in Hoosiers.
The off day gave the Yankee fandom a chance to rake Torre over the coals for wasting Lyle and Gossage in the seventh and eighth and overusing Rivera.
Sox fans quickly became worried that Clemens would not make it out of the first inning of Game Six when he hit Ruth in the ribs with a fastball. Ruth charged the mound, the benches emptied, Jason Varitek, catching his first game of the series after Fisk went 14 innings two days before, intercepted Ruth and the two began throwing punches. Red Sox third base coach Don Zimmer threw Yankee bench coach to the ground, and Tim McCarver wept. Clem and the experienced umpiring crew broke up the fight and issued warnings to both dugouts.
Francona rewarded the Game Five heroes with starts in the Bronx, and the gamble paid off. Petrocelli, who replaced the increasingly unpopular Garciaparra at short, homered from the eighth spot plating Speaker in the fourth. Later the inning Doerr followed a Boggs’ double with a single in the gap. A still sore Mantle had no chance at gunning down Boggs at the plate. The next inning a Yaz homerun made it 4-0. When Torre walked to the mound to replace Ruffing with Lefty Gomez, the entire Bronx booed him.
Clemens continued to mow down Yankee hitters until he turned the ball over to Uehara in the ninth while Papelbon fumed in the bullpen. Uehara, the Eastern Rivera, set down Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle leaving a stunned Yankee team with the prospect of having to beat Cy Young to win the series.
Torre elected to bypass Rudding and pitch Guidry on short rest. In the bottom of the third Fisk and Speaker reached on seeing-eye singles and Evans lifted a high fly to right field that just cleared a leaping Mantle’s glove and landing in the bullpen for a 3-0 lead.
Berra homered in the bottom of the fourth to cut it to 3-1. The Red Sox stranded two runners in both the fifth and sixth. A Jeter single in the bottom of the sixth plated Rodriguez to cut the score to one and chase Young. The Yankee crowd exploded in “Who’s your Daddy” chants as Martinez ran out of the bullpen. He retired Cano to get out of the inning.
The Red Sox now had to face the Big Three of Lyle, Gossage, and Rivera. The Boston bullpen was quiet as Francona was committed to riding Martinez until he got to his closer. While the Sox could not get anyone on base off of Lyle and Gossage the Yankees lead off the seventh with singles by Berra and A-Rod before Martinez struck out Williams, got Jeter to fly out to Speaker with the runners moving up, and then, with the game on the line Cano turned on a ball and drove a line drive towards the left field corner which was snagged by a leaping Yastrzemski, inserted as a defensive replacement, ending the inning.
In the eighth Martinez struck out Ruth and Gehrig before he ran out of steam. He walked Mantle on a 3-2 count and then Dimaggio on four pitches. Francona turned to Tiant to face Berra. After 11 pitchers Tiant spun, twirled, and released a curve that caught the very edge of the plate. Berra took two steps to first base when Chylack rung him up, and Yankee Stadium exploded in a cacophony of curses.
Rivera easily shut down the Sox in the ninth. Everyone at the stadium was on their feet screaming as A-Rod lead off the ninth. He laid down a bunt. Uehara, fresh from the pen, fielded it near the first baseline and lunged at the runner. A-Rod slapped the ball from Uehara’s glove and reached first where he was met by Carl Hubbard who called him out for interference. A-Rod stood on first base with his hands in the air, and a shocked look on his face as the Yankee crowd reigned boos down on the umpiring crew.
Williams flew out to Evans for the second out. Jeter doubled towards monument park and went to third when a pitch skipped by Fisk. With Cano at the plate Uehara caught as much of the corner as Tiant did with a 3-2 delivery but this time, possibly fearing for his life, Chylack called it ball four. Ruth walked to the plate, and Francona made his way to the mound.
He called for the one pitcher yet to be used in the Series. George Herman Ruth slowly walked in from the bullpen. “Shit,” the Babe said. “I hate this guy.”
Ruth lazily took some warm-up tosses. The Yankee fans rained catcalls upon him. Fisk settled behind the plate, and Chylack pointed to Ruth. The first pitch was high, but the Babe still took a massive cut sending it out of the Stadium, but far to the wrong side of the foul pole. Babe laid off two high pitches, the second of which allowed Cano to move into scoring position, then stepped out of the box. He would be damned if he was going to be walked and let the college boy Gehrig be the hero.
The Babe stepped back in and took a massive cut at a ball in the dirt, spinning himself around, and raising a laugh from the nervous crowd. Babe stepped out furious at himself and the kid who was making a fool of him.
He stepped back in. Ruth looked at him with cold eyes. The Babe smiled. The ball came in slow and fat the way he liked it. He lifted his front leg and swung. He knew it as soon as the ball made contact. He slammed the bat down and barely moved out of the box.
Petrocelli waved his arms and took a few steps on the outfield grass. The ball nestled in his glove and there was pandemonium on the field. Ruth shook his head and slowly walked back to the dugout.
A half-hour later the Bambino sat naked on a bench in the locker room, holding a cigar, drinking a beer and eating a hot dog. “They always said I was my own worst enemy,” he said as he listened to the champagne shower in the visiting locker room.
ICYMI: AVIDBOSTON PODCAST EPISODE 28: THE JD MARTINEZ/ROB MANFRED EDITION!
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