July 5, 2017
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.
In the Boston Red Sox of 1975, momentum, personality and chance converged to create an irresistible alternative to the hopelessly square Cincinnati Reds and irretrievably obnoxious New York Yankees, the era’s twin towers of major league power. Key changes had been made to the ’74 lineup: Jim Rice and Fred Lynn joined the outfield, Rick Burleson stopped at short, and Carlton “Pudge” Fisk, benched for torn ligaments, returned as catcher. Already embedded were first baseman Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski, star of Boston’s last championship season (1967); right fielder Dwight Evans; and third baseman Rico Petrocelli. The pitching staff included Rick Wise, team leader with 19 wins; reliever Dick Drago, earner of eight saves in the stretch; the pot-growing, tree-hugging Bill “Spaceman” Lee; and Luis Tiant, the cigar-chomping Cuban whose public reunion with a father he hadn’t seen in 14 years (cleared with Fidel Castro by George McGovern) was the season’s feel-good story.
Sophomore manager Darrell Johnson, a nonentity among his more flamboyant peers, briefly found a groove: 1975 would bring the sole pennant to an eight-year managerial career spanning three teams. (Plagued by losses and booze, he would be fired the next year.) Everyone contributed, from Glimmer Twins Rice and Lynn to glue-factory candidates Yaz and Tiant, with the indestructible Fisk as anchor. (Pudge had played Class A ball in Waterloo, Iowa, where I grew up: hence my father’s love of a team from a city he’d never seen.) They swept Oakland for the American League pennant, then faced Cincinnati in a World Series still ranked by many as the greatest ever. Its peak was the epic Game Six, a must-win for the Sox. Pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo, another journeyman reborn, had homered for three runs and the saving tie, and half past midnight in the bottom of the twelfth, Fisk broke it — hitting a long fly down the left-field line, waving his arms to push the ball fair. It bounced off the pole and into the grass.
Earth and atmosphere had met in a conspiracy of joy. The record books say Cincinnati won the Series — proving the limits on what can be learned from record books. 1975 was a secret victory of the flawed human apparatus over the well-oiled winning machine. When the Reds won that year, baseball nodded. When the Yankees won, baseball strutted. When the Red Sox won, baseball simply smiled.
#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Jordan Ellenberg on BOURBAKI | Michael Campochiaro on THE SUICIDE SQUAD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Douglas Wolk on SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACKLIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.
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