(Excerpt from Remembering Fenway
Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home
of the Boston Red Sox/Abrams 2011 - - now
available in stores and on-line and direct from
The Red Sox decade of the seventies began on
April 14 at Fenway - -Yankees against Red Sox.
There were 34,002 in the house. New York manager
Ralph Houk was pitted against new Red Sox
skipper Eddie Kasko. Another opening day.
Missing was a long time fixture, the
center-field flag pole. No one seemed to notice.
Olde Towne team rooters exited happily after
watching their team behind Ray Culp win 8-3 win
aided by homers off the bats of George Scott,
Tony Conigliaro and Reggie Smith.
(Opening Day Lineup at Fenway April 14, 1970
Mike Andrews 2b
Reggie Smith cf
Carl Yastrzemski lf
George Scott 1b
Rico Petrocelli ss
Tony Conigliaro rf
Luis Alvarado 3b
Jerry Moses c
Ray Culp p
Old Towne team fans reveled in the potential of
their team which blended depth, youth and
experience, a powerful offense and some strong
pitching. And more help in the form of the Luis
Tiants, Fred Lynns, Jim Rices was in the offing.
With Carl Yastrzemski, the Red
Sox were always exciting, never out of a game.
Fans at Fenway came to see "Yaz" as they had
come to see "Teddy." On May 16th he slammed a
pitch out of the park duplicating what up to
then only Jimmie Foxx and Bill Skowron had been
able to do.
JOHN KENNEDY: It seemed
everybody thought Tom Yawkey kow-towed to Ted
Williams and Carl Yaz because a lot of times
people would come into the locker room and see
him sitting with them. But he didn't ignore
anyone. My locker was right by the
clubhouse door, and he would always stop and ask
how were the kids, was there anything I needed?
EDDIE KASKO: In those
years, there was a long-time nucleus in place at
Fenway - a special fan, the organist, the
P.A. guy, the switchboard operator, the
head groundskeeper, the top PR guy.
Sherm Feller was the P.A. guy.
He'd always hold court in the press room. He had
hearing aids that you tuned in with a dial.
You'd be hearing the "eeeeeeeeeeerr,
eeeeeeeeeerrrrr." He'd reach in and say,
"Hold it, hold it, I'm getting Shanghai." guy.
EDDIE KASKO: John Kiley
on the organ basically was the only music at
Fenway. A big man, he was going to be there
until he couldn't do it any longer. Bill Crowley
was a big Irishman, a tough type just like
Joe Mooney and a few others. He knew every
member of the media, all the secrets. Joe Mooney
ran the grounds crew with an iron fist. He was a
short Irishman, tough, like a James Cagney type.
If you were where you weren't supposed to be on
that field, boy, he just gave you hell and he
didn't care if you were the biggest star.
When it rained, he had a bunch
of summer kids, and they would jump to it.
And he'd have the tarp on his beloved field in
The brothers Conigliaro were
center stage on the 19th of September 1970. Tony
and Billy homered in the nightcap of a twin bill
and the Red Sox romped, 11-3 over the Senators.
An attractive team that drew
better than any other American League team,
1,595,278 at Fenway, the Red Sox were 52-29 at
home but just 35-46 on the road. Had they
been a bit better away from Fenway who knows
what they might have accomplished that season
they finished in third place in the AL East.
RICK MILLER: I made my debut with the Red Sox on
September 4, 1971, coming in late in the game as
a pinch hitter. I was really nervous. I swung at
the first pitch. It was a high fast ball. It
went for a double off the Green Monster.
I loved Fenway, loved to play there. But
as an outfielder you were challenged. I had to
learn the tricky configurations and angles, how
to get great jumps, how to play players. I would
cheat, I knew the counts and moved on each pitch
according to the count.
BILL LEE: I started out as a reliever and
became a starter in '73. Old guy Gene Clines was
in the pen and he asked to see my grips. I
showed him my curveball grip. "No,no, no. That's
how you hold a cocktail." So I learned
what you learn out in the bullpen is bad habits.
You learn how to
smoke, chew tobacco and waste your time.
But it wasn't a bad
environment at Fenway. Fans would bring you
anything you wanted. During rain delays, I
would sneak out with an usher named "The Whale."
We would run out the back entrance down Ipswich
Street, cut back through the back alleyway and
end up in the Eliot Lounge. They'd hear the
clicking of my spikes and they'd have a beer
pulled for me. I'd have two beers, watch
them pull the tarp off the field, be back in
time and never miss a pitch.
In the bullpen Sparky Lyle worked in a strange
way, throwing his first pitch real slow, just a
lob. And the second pitch he'd throw 90 plus
miles an hour. Because they weren't
expecting, he'd hit catchers in the chest and
worse a lot of times Around
the fifth inning, Sparky would go to the
Triangle, get a cheeseburger and be ready to go.
DON LENHARDT: As first base
coach under Eddie Kasko from 1970-1973, we'd go
to Mr. Yawkey's office after games. It had a
nice bar and a barman. We would talk about the
game, the roster.
Once I told Mr. Yawkey "We
need to get rid of Yaz and Reggie Smith."
Of course, it was just a joke. But to tell the
truth, they wore me out game after game at
Fenway. Everybody wanted to go home when the
games were over. But those two always wanted
more batting practice, and I was usually the guy
who obliged and pitched it to them.