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Seventies at Fenway Park:  All that Yaz, and More
(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 author)


(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 author)

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 no time.

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.

#  #  #

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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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
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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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