Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike Dan Shaughnessy. He is a fine journalist, though maybe not in the class of legends like Peter Gammons or Will McDonough. However, his book Curse of the Bambino, written 21 years ago, does not deserve the millions it and its sequels have made and the aura it produced. If you go to Wikipedia, you will find seven pages about the Curse and attempts to break it.
The book purports to blame all or most of the Sox problems between 1920 and 1990 on a curse produced by the sale of the mighty Babe to the Yankees by Boston owner Harry Frazee. What emerges is a 200-page book, entertaining at times, angry at times, boring at times. All of the famous 20th century near-misses-1946, 1948, 1949, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1986 are chronicled here. But this is not new. The Sox story has been told in numerous books and articles dating back to the twenties, when the Herald’s Burt Whitman called the parade of stars from Boston to New York “the rape of the Red Sox.”
One of the reasons that Dan’s book was so successful is that it can appeal to both Red Sox Nation and Red Sox haters. By blaming the disappointments on outside forces-punishment by some unknown entity for the horrible trade-might make Sox fans feel a bit better in their disappointment. But also, chronicling all the team’s misdeeds in detail certainly must have made it very popular with New York fans.
To my mind, the major problem has been- at least until Werner and Henry came along-poor ownership. Bob Quinn, Frazee’s successor, was constantly strapped for money. Tom Yawkey changed all of that in 1934, but the biggest reason his teams won only three pennants and failed in 3 World Series was not a curse but racism-that of Yawkey and drinking buddies like Joe Cronin and Mike Higgins. All three men are long in their graves, but much has been written on their feeling toward minority players. The Yawkey trust, which ran the club from 1976 to 2002, was so inept it was sometimes laughable. The story is much more complex than a simple curse.
By the way, wouldn’t Willie Mays have looked good in a Boston uniform making the famous 1954 World Series catch in deep center field of Fenway Park rather than in the Polo Grounds?