Wednesday, June 24, 2009

36 years ago…

The year was 1973. The Impossible Dream had come and gone. The World Series team of 1975 was still building. But, a lot happened during that year. I thought it might be a lot of fun to take a look back at the Red Sox year of 1973.

On January 3 the New York Yankees were sold. That might not strictly be Red Sox related. But, the fact that the new buyer was George Steinbrenner makes it fairly significant. When his group put up the $10 million to buy the team, I bet nobody could imagine what would be created. If the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry didn’t start with the Steinbrenner years, it was certainly increased a few levels into what it is today. I don’t know whether to thank him.

In another Yankee moment, on April 6th Ron Blomberg came to the plate against Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant. He ended up walking. What was significant about that? It was the first time in ML history that a Designated Hitter came to the plate. I think it’s great that he walked. That way, the first DH at-bat wasn’t even an official at-bat. Isn’t that great? Love it or hate it, and I love it, the DH rule is one of the most significant changes to baseball in a long time. Now, if the NL would just get on board. By the way, the Red Sox ended up winning the game 15-5.

On August 1, the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry was in full bloom. It was in this game that Carlton Fisk was run into by Thurman Munson to start a pretty heated brawl. When they retired Fisk’s number at Fenway a few years ago, they showed a clip of this fight on the jumbotron. Naturally, it drew a loud round of applause.

A few of the Red Sox players who ranked among the AL leaders in 1973:
Carl Yastrzemski’s 105 walks placed him 3rd
Yaz’s .411 OBP was 3rd, even if nobody cared back then.
Tommy Harper stole 54 bases to lead the AL.
Luis Tiant had 23 complete games! What is more amazing is that he was only 4th in the AL. (In 2008, the Red Sox had 5 as a team)
Bill Lee had a fantastic 2.75 ERA, good enough for 3rd in the league

As for major AL awards, Harper finished 13th in the AL MVP voting.

Tommy Harper also collected a couple team honors, winning both the BoSox Club Man of the Year, and the Thomas A. Yawkey Award as team MVP.

The Red Sox placed three men on the 1973 All-Star team. Carlton Fisk started the game at catcher. Bill Lee and Carl Yastrzemski joined him on the squad.

The Red Sox finished 1973 with an 89-73 record, good enough for 2nd in the AL East. The Orioles finished 8 games ahead of them.

1,481,002 people came to Fenway to watch them play. (In 2008, the Sox drew a club record 3,048,248)

Red Sox team leaders included:Reggie Smith with a .303 batting average
Fisk’s 26 homers
Yaz’s 95 RBI
Tiant’s 20 Wins and 206 ‘s
Lee’s 2.75 ERA

Anyone have a favorite 1973 memory?

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