Bush: The 1976 Proctor Rails: the impossible dream

From SABR member Anthony Bush at Rails Baseball on March 26, 2016:

The Boston Red Sox’ 1967 season is called The Impossible Dream. The Red Sox won the American League pennant on the last day of the season in the closest pennant race in baseball history. Named for the popular song from the 1965 Broadway play Man of La Mancha, based on Cervantes’s Don Quixote, the theme of humankind’s unquenchable spirit fit Boston’s against-all-odds success. The Red Sox’ first league championship in 21 years was the culmination of a team overcoming low expectations and of their solitary warrior, Carl Yastrzemski, triumphing time and again at bat during the final days of the season.

Baseball is the ultimate sport for showcasing individual accomplishment within a team effort. You can’t pass the ball to your best player like in other sports; in fact it’s the only sport where the defense has the ball. Everybody gets their turn at bat. And there’s no telling to which fielder the ball will be hit. But, occasionally, one player makes such an impact that it seems as if he’s an unstoppable force. Yastrzemski batted 7-for-8 with a home run and six RBI in the last two games of the season against one of the teams with which the Sox were tied in the standings, the Minnesota Twins, en route to winning the American League MVP and Triple Crown awards.

Of course, the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in the World Series.

Nine years later, and just months removed from the Red Sox losing, again, in the 1975 World Series, the U. S. Bicentennial year saw Bruce Jenner’s inspirational gold medal decathlon performance at the Montreal Olympics. Later in the year, two other underdog stories unfolded on the national scene, one in real life and one on the silver screen: dark horse Jimmy Carter won the White House over incumbent Gerald Ford, and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky knocked out the competition at the box office. Before those long shots, the Proctor Rails baseball program had its version of the Impossible Dream led by its own solitary warrior, sophomore pitcher Dale Nikko. Nikko’s iron-man performance in the playoffs deserves such a hyperbolic comparison. What he and the Rails accomplished truly stands out as Proctor’s Impossible Dream.

Read the full article here: http://railsbaseball.atomicleagues.com/news/5768

Originally published: April 21, 2016. Last Updated: April 21, 2016.