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The Boston Massacre:  September 7-9, 1978

 


They are getting edgy in New York these days and antsy in New England. The Yankees keep dropping back and the Red Sox keep coming on. The scene is set for six games between the two ancient rivals in September. Here we go again. It is a reminder of what happened in another September in 1978

That season of 1978 was a study in contrasts for the Yankees and Red Sox. It seemed to all early on that Boston was by far the superior team. But as the season moved down through the dog days of August, the first place Sox seemed to be chasing the second place Yankees.   

On the seventh day of September, Boston's lead was just four games over a charging Yankee team. The Red Sox had played 25-24 ball since their 14 game lead of July 24. The Yankees in that same time frame had won 35 of 49.

Mike Torrez of Boston versus Catfish Hunter of New York was the pitching match up in the first game of the four game series.

After two innings, the Yanks led, 5-0. They led 7-0 after 3. After four innings it was 12-0, Yankees. The final score that broke Red Sox hearts was 15-3.

The next day two rookies started against each other - - Jim Wright for the humbled Sox and Jim Beattie for the high flying Yankees. Boston was thrashed again - 13-2. In two games the Bronx Bombers had pounded out 28 runs to Boston's five, out-hit the Sox 38-14. Worst of all were the 9 errors committed by Boston.

"Boston's got the best record in baseball," Yankee super scout Clyde King said. "I could understand if an expansion team fell apart like his. It can't go on like this."

Beleaguered Red Sox manager Don Zimmer put his best pitcher out on the mound for the third game of the series.  Dennis Eckersly had a 16-6 record and had won his last nine decisions at Fenway. The Yankees did Boston more than one better. Ron Guidry took the mound with his 20-2 record, popping fastball and dancing slider.  Final score, 7-0 Yanks.

Boston catcher Carlton Fisk underscored his team's frustration: "How can a team get thirty-something games over .500 in July and then in September see its pitching, hitting and fielding all fall apart at the same time?"

Reggie Jackson explained the Yankee turnaround: "This team is loaded with tough guys. This team is loaded with professionals."

Game four of the series pitted rookie Bobby Sprowl of Boston against Ed Figueroa. The Yanks had a 6-0 lead at the end of four and held on to win 7-4.

It was called "The Boston Massacre" and it was.

The Yankees pounded out 42 runs and 67 hits. Boston managed just nine runs and 21 hits. The Sox also committed a dozen errors. The Yankees won all four games by an average margin of over eight runs.  For the long suffering fans of the Boston Red Sox, it was like an old time horror movie - replayed with the volume turned up. But there was still October 2, 1978 on the horizon.

 

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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