The Earlier, Better Boston Massacre

From SABR member Jeff Polman at The Hardball Times on September 12, 2011:

Once upon a time, in a baseball era far, far away, I had the good fortune to be a partial season ticketholder for the 1977 Red Sox. This meant 18 Sunday and holiday games, plus Opening Day, but the bonus was that I lived in a one-bedroom Back Bay apartment that was just a 10-minute walk to my job at the Boston Phoenix and a 20-minute stroll to my $7.50-per-game lower grandstand seat on the third-base side of Fenway Park.

It was an expansion year, and possibly a juiced baseball one. Total major league OPS increased from .681 in ‘76 to .730 in ‘77, and Boston was one of the biggest culprits. A lineup featuring Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, George “Boomer” Scott, Dwight Evans and Bernie Carbo knocked out 213 dingers for the season and a remarkable 33 in one 10-game stretch.

The weekend of June 17-19 cpmprised three days of this stretch. On Thursday, Ron Guidry had shut out the Royals 7-0, while Steve Stone and the third-place White Sox bested Luis Tiant, 7-3, at Fenway.

The Yanks and Red Sox had split four pretty uneventful games that season, and New York was rolling into Boston with a half-game lead on them.

Now, these were not the overhyped, five-hour, on-base slogathons the rivalry is famous for today. Boston had won the ’75 pennant, New York the ’76 one. There was no lame wild card spot to fall back on. You won the East or you were humiliated.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 12, 2011. Last Updated: September 12, 2011.