Sox 67

As a teenaged Sox fan in 67, I have a confession to make. I wish the Sox had lost game 6 at Fenway on October 11. That way, many of us rooters would have been spared the belief-24 hours long-that the Impossible Dream could be totally fulfilled. There would be many other disappointments, of course, but this one really hurt. I felt jealous of Mets fans two years later- they did win it all.

After an off day, the Sox were going with Connecticut native Gary Waslewski to try to extend the Series against fellow rookie Dick Hughes, who had been battered in a 5-0 Sox victory in game 2. Statistics wise, it seemed a mismatch. Hughes had a 16-6 mark for a league-leading .727 percentage. He had thrown 12 complete games and 3 shutouts. His ERA was 2.67 and opposing batters were hitting .203 off him, also tops in the NL. Waslewski, on the other hand, had only 12 appearences after spending part of the year in the minors. He had started 8 times and sported a 2-2 record with no complete games. He was also known to have first-inning problems; in a couple of his starts, Dick Williams would have a reliever warming up as Waslewski faced his first batter. Now, on one of his hunches, Williams had tabbed the rookie to hold off the Cards. A Will McDonough piece in the Globe recounted Gary’s story, and it was an interesting one. He had survived a weak heart as a child and a collapsed lung to win 18 games in Toronto at age 25.

As had happened many times in this miracle season, Williams’ hunch paid offf. Not that Waslewski had a great game or even was the winning pitcher. But in a slugfest-the only one in this Series in the “years of the pitcher” (the mound would not be lowered until 1969)
Gary held off the Cardinals long enough for an 8-4 victory. The wind was blowing out,
and the Sox played longball. Rico Petrocelli put one into the net in the second, and after a two-run rally by the visitors, the Cardiac Kids exploded in the fourth. Before the inning was over, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, and Rico (for the second time) had connected-the first three-homer inning in World Series history- and Boston was ahead 4-2. After a pair of walks in the sixth, Waslewski was pulled in favor of John Wyatt. The righty got out of the inning, but surrendered a two-run job in the seventh to ever-dangerous Lou Brock to tie the contest. It didn’t stay that way long. Against old pal Jack Lamabe in the bottom half, Joe Foy doubled in Dalton Jones for a 5-4 advantage. Before the frame was over, Mike Andrews, Jerry Adair and Reggie Smith also had rbi’s and the count became 8. Gary Bell then took the mound and retired the Cards despite some hard hits for the “save” as Wyatt got a rather cheap victory. No matter. Cinderella would live another day, and my untrained-Sox-fan mind saw Lonny as a superman- he could go on two days rest and beat Gibson to bring the World Championship to Boston.

All I can say is- it was not even close. Even with 35,000 fans there to cheer him, lanky Lonny just couldn’t do it. It was Columbus Day, and the morning Globe trumpeted “Cinderella Tries on the Slipper”. It didn’t come close to fitting. Before the contest, the cocky Gibson remarked “it’s just another work day.” From about the third inning, the result would be obvious. With even the Gibber smashing a homer, it was soon 4-0. In the sixth, Williams left Lonborg in with two men on, and Julian Javier- the same man who had ruined Jim’s no-hitter- hit one into the net for a 7-1 lead. It was all over, as the Cards triumphed 7-2 to take the Series in 7 games.

The postmortem headlines were familiar- “Yawkey Hides His Disappointmant”, “Lonborg Left The Field in Tears”, “Lonborg’s Our Best, He Wanted to Stay”, “Defeat in ’46 Harder to Take.”. Yaz’s final column stated “we’re going to be a pennant contender for the next five to ten years.” With a young team, many of us were in agreement. But on the following Sunday a Harold Kaese column cautioned “Conig’s Return Key to ’68 Sox”. Little was being said by Tony, but stories already abounded. “Until it is demonstrated that he can follow a pitched baseball, disturbing rumors such as those now circulating are sure to continue.” Kaese wrote. Conigliaro’s condition was one of many setbacks which would plague the team during the next few seasons.

Almost no one thought that 37 more years would pass before a World Series championship would come to Boston. Sad to say, neither Tom nor Jean Yawkey, Dick O’Connell, nor Tony C would be alive to see it.

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