9. GAME 7, 1967 WORLD SERIES, ST. LOUIS AND BOSTON
A game more noteworthy for its anticlimax than anything. The '67 Sox were the Impossible Dream team, winning the American League pennant after a last-place finish in 1966. It wasn't that they won the pennant, it was how they won the pennant — an improbably roller-coaster ride headlined by Jim Lonborg's Cy Young Award and an astounding Triple Crown from embattled left fielder Carl Yastrzemski, who finally realized the expectations of Sox fans by simply throwing his teammates on his back. Boston emerged from a four-team race in the season's final weekend by sweeping front-runner Minnesota at home, winning the pennant by a half-game and literally stopping New England cold. Everyone was watching. Everyone was swept up. Even today, many adults pinpoint that season as they year they became Red Sox fans. You couldn't help it.
Unfortunately, the sox had to meet Bob Gibson and St. Louis in the Series. Boston somehow won three games against the superior Cardinals (including a memorable three-hitter by Lonborg to keep the Sox alive in Game 5) before falling apart in the final game. Manager Dick Williams decided to pitch Lonborg again on two days' rest, his fourth big start in 11 days, and the Cardinals jumped all over him for 10 hits and seven runs in six innings. Why did Williams trot out the dead-tired Lonborg? He had to. The team had nobody else, and Lonborg was having such a special year, and it was the Impossible Dream season.
Dream over. The remarkable Gibson cruised to his third win of the Series (Games 1, 4, and 7), a stretch where he yielded just 14 hits in 23 innings, and the Cinderella Sox were cooked. Boston fans had no regrets. They hadn't cheered a pennant winner in 21 years. Anything more would have been icing on a delicious, already unexpected cake.
POSTSCRIPT:Lonborg wrecked his knee in a skiing accident that winter and never attained the same success he had in '67. and star slugger Tony Conigliaro never fully recovered from a beanball pitch he took in the eye during the summer of '67. the Red Sox can't even have an Impossible Dream season without casualties.
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