Musings: My Favorite Red Sox Team Is...

Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate

and New York Times Best Selling Author

MY FAVORITE RED SOX TEAM IS……

What is your favorite Red Sox team? Is it the 2018 edition that met every challenge along

the way, the team that set a record for victories in the regular season then vanquished all

opposition in October? I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose

any other team over this year’s group.

But what about the ’04 team, the team that broke the dreaded Curse of the Bambino and

made the most miraculous comeback in baseball history in the process? How could you

vote for any team over that one?

And how about the 2013 bunch, that motley crew of over-achievers who nobody

expected to do much but who kept on over-achieving until they held the trophy in their

hands? Would I vote any other team over that one? Never.

Let’s not forget the ’07 team, the one that seems to get lost in the shuffle. All that team

did was go out and do its job. It tended to business and it got the job done. You can’t ask

more that that of any team, and to leave it off any list of favorites is to do it an injustice.

You know somethng? I don’t have a favorite Red Sox team. I love ‘em all. And that goes

for the teams that preceded the winners of the twenty-first century. The Red Sox of the

late forties were my first baseball love, and you know what they say about first loves –

you never forget them. That’s how I feel about those great Red Sox teams. Ted Williams

and Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky instilled in me my love for the

game. I’ll aways be indebted to them because baseball has been such great gift for me.

There is also this about first loves – it isn’t the first person to whom you give your heart

that you remember, it’s the first person who breaks it. The Red Sox of those days broke

my heart again and again. There was Enos Slaughter’s mad dash for home in 1946; the

inexplicabe decision to start Denny Galehouse in the ’48 playoff game; the two game

fade against the Yankees at the tail end of ’49. But my heart was never hardened by those

heartbreaks; I loved those Red Sox teams back then and I still love them seventy years

later.

There were, of couse, the barren years of the fifties and well into the sixties when the Red

Sox stunk; worse, they didn’t seem to care that they stunk. Once Ted Williams retired

there was no reason to do go to Fenway Park, and nobody did. The park became an ideal

place to hide out from the cops; nobody would think to look for you there.

Then came the great resurrection of 1967 when Carl Yastzemski and Jim Lonborg led us

back to the promised land. We didn’t quite get all the way there, Bob Gibson and the St.

Louis Cardinals slammed the door shut in the seventh game of the World Series, but we

didn’t even care. Baseball was back in Boston and it has never left. Yaz and Lonborg and

Rico and Tony C and the others restored our faith. We owe them all, big time.

The ’75-’78 Red Sox were perhaps the most talented teams of my lifetime. Rice, Lynn,

and Evans were in the outfield; Pudge Fisk was behind the plate; on the mound, Luis

Tiant; Rick Burleson might not have been quite the shortstop that Nomar was and that

Xander is but he was a heck of a player. And, of course, the Red Sox still had Yaz. I will

never forget the prediction that the late Ray Fitzgerald, the great columnist of the Boston

Globe, made during spring training of 1978; he wrote of the newly acquired second

baseman, “You’re going to love Remy.” We did - and we still do.

The 1975 World Series against Cincinatti’s vaunted Big Red Machine of Pete Rose,

Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, et al , and which featured the famous Fisk home run in the

12 th inning of game 6, was perhaps the greatest ever played. Red Sox fans came away

from it with the feeling that the Sox won it, three games to four.

In August of 1978 the Sox had a fourteen and a half game lead on the Yanks but there

was trouble ahead. Fisk cracked a rib, third Baseman Butch Hobson developed bone

chips in the elbow of his throwing arm, reliever Bill Campbell had a sore arm. Then, on

August 27, Dwight Evans was beaned and began suffering dizzy spells. The best right

fielder in baseball started dropping fly balls. But they all remained in the line-up – and

the Red Sox started to lose. By mid-September their huge lead had turned into a three and

a half game deficit. Then they turned it around. They won twelve of their last fourteen

games and came back to tie New York, setting up the Bucky Dent playoff game – and

more heartbrek for Red Sox fans.

1986 is remembered for more of the same – heartbreak - when the ball rolled through Bill

Buckner’s legs, but let’s not forget that it was the year Roger Clemens came of age and

developed into the best pitcher baseball had seen in years. Wade Boggs had become the

perennial American League batting champion. The Red Sox that year came so near – and

yet, so far.

I loved all of those teams. They didn’t win it all, as the teams of the twenty-first century

have done, but they didn’t cheat us, either. I, as are all Red Sox fans, have been lucky to

be along for the ride.

I started this by asking what Red Sox team is your favorite. It is none of my business

what your answer is because I don’t have one. I have a whole bunch of them.