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
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
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
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
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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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.
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