1975 Boston Red Sox season
|1975 Boston Red Sox|
1975 AL Champions |
1975 AL East Champions
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Dick O'Connell|
WSBK-TV, Ch. 38|
(Dick Stockton, Ken Harrelson)
(Ned Martin, Jim Woods)
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The 1975 Boston Red Sox season was the 75th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished first in the American League East with a record of 95 wins and 65 losses. Following a sweep of the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, the Red Sox lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games. In their 4 losses in the World Series, they had a lead at one point in the game, only to let the Reds come back and win all 4, spoiling the Sox's chances at winning the World Series for the first time since 1918, which would have ended the Curse of the Bambino. In game 7, the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead at one point, but the Reds rallied back to spoil the Red Sox chances of a major upset.
The 1975 baseball season should have dawned for Red Sox fans with bright hopes. After all, the team had made a legitimate run for the pennant the previous year, and this time the team would have Carlton Fisk and Rick Wise for full seasons. Rick Burleson had surprised everyone by playing outstanding shortstop and hitting higher in the majors than he ever had in the minors. In addition, they were the two rookies who gave every indication they would be phenoms, Fred Lynn and Jim Rice. But the memory of the collapse of 1974 still hung heavy over New England fans.
At first most of the pre-season talk had to do with the decision by Tony Conigliaro to try one more comeback and with the salary hassle concerning Luis Tiant, who felt he deserved more than $70,000 he was earning and wouldn't show up at Winter Haven, Florida, causing team owner Tom Yawkey to meet with "El Tiante", agree on a raise (to 90,000) and get the Sox pitching ace back in camp.
Still, it didn't take too long before the stories and pictures coming out of Florida about the two phenoms got Sox fans thinking. The betting lines in Las Vegas had Boston as a long shot, although not the 100–1 shot they were in 1967. The odds against them went up, however, after Fisk, returning from the serious knee injury of 1974, was hit in the right arm and broke it. Even the positive talk about young Mr. Lynn couldn't drive away the gloom over Fisk's injury. Catching is absolutely vital to a successful team, and Fisk was going to be sidelined for at least a couple of months.
Youngsters and comebacks
The word out of Florida on Lynn was pretty positive. The young man who had gone to Southern California as a football linebacker, but gave up football for baseball, seemed to be doing it all. Not only did he hit and run and field, he was a good-looking, charming young man. He would be a hit with Boston and New England fans, no question. What's more, he was hitting with power, and with the way big Jim Rice was clobbering the baseball, Boston appeared to have a real power punch that could only get better when Fisk got back into the lineup.
Rick Wise, back after a year of shoulder trouble and then a broken finger, looked ready to boost a pitching staff, which already had Luis Tiant, Bill Lee, Reggie Cleveland, and the stringbean flame-thrower Roger Moret. The bullpen also looked strong, with Dick Drago as the closer and hard-thrower Dick Pole and veteran Diego Seguí.
Additionally, the word on Tony Conigliaro was encouraging, and that boosted spirits back home. Carl Yastrzemski would be playing first base, and after three short trials in previous years Cecil Cooper was going to make this team and probably be the designated hitter.
The season opened with El Tiante beating the Milwaukee Brewers, and after the first week the Sox shared first place with Milwaukee. Rice was playing some left field, and his defense left a lot to be desired; people were already saying that Rice might be a one-dimensional player who had to be the designated hitter only. On the other hand, Lynn was doing well, and the problems at catcher were not apparent yet.
The Red Sox fell out of first place in late April and didn't get back into it until the end of May. Lynn was bombing American League pitching and playing great center field, and Rice was clobbering the ball. But the Red Sox were winning a lot of high-scoring games which didn't augur well for pitching when the pennant race reached the dog days of August and September.
In June, the Red Sox made what appeared to be a minor move to bolster the bench when they bought journeyman second baseman Denny Doyle from the California Angels. The Angels would get cash and a player to be named later, the quality depending on what Doyle did for the Sox. Little did anyone know this would be even better than the pickup of Jerry Adair back in 1967.
Second base was a problem. Doug Griffin was playing there and doing an adequate job, but he was injury-prone, and the Sox had been particularly anixous about him ever since he had been hit in the face by a Nolan Ryan fastball back in April 1974. Doug had seemed tentative at the plate since the beaning, and Boston had concerns about his durability and about his ability to stand in there on inside pitches.
Tony C's last stand
Doyle arrived on June 14, and to make room for him on the roster Tony Conigliaro was sent to Pawtucket in the minor leagues. Tony's attempt to come back hadn't really worked out. On his first at bat he homered for the Red Sox, but soon thereafter it became apparent that the eye damage had been too great and that the once-promising career now was over for good.
So, the Red Sox got Denny Doyle into the lineup, and no one could get him out of it for the rest of the season. He ended up hitting .310, had a 22-game hitting streak and was outstanding in the field. In fact, he cemented an infield which featured Carl Yastrzemski at first, Rick Burleson at short and Rico Petrocelli at third. A major step toward the pennant had been taken with the Doyle deal.
Fred Lynn's greatest day ever
On June 18, Fred Lynn had one of those games that players can only dream about. The Red Sox were in Detroit and had won the first two games of the series, with second-year regular Juan Beníquez having two big games – a triple to start a winning rally in the opener and a homer to win the second. Unable to sleep, Fred Lynn got up, got dressed and walked the streets of downtown Detroit for an hour or two after 6 a.m. Still restless, he had breakfast and then went to Tiger Stadium to get extra batting practice. Whatever it was in the recipe that worked, it worked remarkably well.
In the four-run first inning he crashed a homer into the upper deck in right. In the three-run second he clubbed one off the roof of the upper deck in left center. In the third he just missed when his long drive to left center hit the top of the fence and came back for a triple. In the sixth he beat out an infield single, and then in the ninth he smashed a three-run homer to the upper deck in right again. Lynn had hit his 12th, 13th and 14th home runs, had knocked in 10 runs, tying the Red Sox record for RBIs in a game, and Luis Tiant had no trouble winning his ninth game, 15–1.
The Sox went in and out of first place three different times in late June, but at the end of the month they led the New York Yankees by a game. The Baltimore Orioles were 7.5 games back, five games under .500.
Power to the Red Sox
In early July the Red Sox put Jim Rice into left field. Since Carlton Fisk had returned a week earlier, the Sox now had a power-laden lineup that was the talk of baseball. But Baltimore was getting ready to make a move, looking for a third consecutive division crown. And after the Orioles clobbered Boston on July 1, 10–6, Oriole manager Earl Weaver suggested that whereas his team would emulate the 1974 Baltimore Orioles season, picking up a game a week, Boston would emulate its 1974 team and fade, which made for good reading.
Goodbye New York Yankees
Jim Rice broke in as a regular with two homers in a 6–3 win at Milwaukee, in which Wise had a no-hitter through 82⁄3 innings but lost it when George Scott homered in the ninth. The Red Sox completed a sweep of the Minnesota Twins in Minnesota and did the same to the Texas Rangers in Texas, and by the All-Star break they held a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees and Brewers.
The Sox then put together a 10-game winning streak, moved 6 ahead of the Yankees and finally put the Yankees away with a three-out-of-four series victory in New York, featuring two shutouts pitched by left-handers, on Sunday, July 27. Bill Lee beat Catfish Hunter in the first 1–0, with Lynn making a spectacular play on a Graig Nettles drive. As Lynn ran into left-center field, he dove for the ball and caught the ball in his glove. When he hit the ground, the ball popped out of the glove, but Lynn reached up and grabbed it again before it hit the ground.
The stretch drive
Roger Moret pitched his seventh win, against one loss, in a 6–0 Boston win in the nightcap, featuring Yaz's 12th home Run. By the end of July Boston enjoyed an eight-game lead over the Orioles, who had moved to 51–47, over .500 for the first time.
The lead got to 9.5 games and then began to dwindle down to six by September 1. But there was no question that the fans now believed: the crowds filled Fenway. Boston next took two from the Orioles at Baltimore. Weaver was subdued, and Boston led by seven. By September 15, the Sox had not collapsed as they had in 1974, but the lead over the Orioles was down to four.
Red Sox vs. Indians
The game that may have decided the season was played on Tuesday, September 16, at hot, humid and jammed Fenway. Luis Tiant against Jim Palmer. The crowd chanted "Loo-ee!, Loo-ee!, Loo-ee!", and he responded, twirling, looking into center and then blowing the ball by the Orioles. Palmer was good, but Loo-eee! was better. Boston won 2–0 on homers by Fisk and Petrocelli.
It stayed close until Friday, September 26. It had rained for five days. Contingency plans to make up rained-out games had been made, but it became academic on Friday,for the rain had stopped. But the field at Fenway was soggy, and there was a lot of fog. Nevertheless, they played a twi-night doubleheader with Cleveland. Tiant won the opener 4–0, besting Dennis Eckersley in a game in which part of left field was in fog.
Reggie Cleveland won the second game, also 4–0 and the Sox clinched a tie for first. The next day the Yankees finished off the Orioles, winning a twin bill at New York. Boston was thus the AL East champ, and Oakland was their next obstacle on the way to the World Series.
The postseason: Falling short yet again
After a great season, The Red Sox continued their magical season by sweeping the Oakland Athletics in 3 games in the 1975 American League Championship Series to advance to their first World Series since 1967.
In the historic World Series that followed, it came down to Carl Yastrzemski with the Red Sox trailing 4 to 3 with 2 outs in the 9th inning of Game 7. Yaz's drive fell into the hands of Reds outfielder César Gerónimo, and Boston's magical season fell one game short. Boston would not be back in the World Series for 11 years.
|Boston Red Sox||95||65||0.594||—||47–34||48–31|
|New York Yankees||83||77||0.519||12||43–35||40–42|
Record vs. opponents
1975 American League Records
Opening Day lineup
- June 3, 1975: Dave Schmidt was selected by the Red Sox in the 2nd round of the 1975 Major League Baseball Draft
- June 14, 1975: The Red Sox traded a player to be named later and cash to the California Angels for Denny Doyle. The Red Sox completed the deal by sending Chuck Ross (minors) to the Angels on March 5, 1976.
|1975 Boston Red Sox|
Starters by position
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
October 4 at Fenway Park
|W: Luis Tiant (1–0) L: Ken Holtzman (0–1)|
October 5 at Fenway Park
|W: Roger Moret (1–0) L: Rollie Fingers (0–1) S: Dick Drago (1)|
|HR: OAK: Reggie Jackson (1) BOS: Carl Yastrzemski (1), Rico Petrocelli (1)|
|W: Rick Wise (1–0) L: Ken Holtzman (0–2) S: Dick Drago (2)|
NL Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. AL Boston Red Sox (3)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Reds – 0, Red Sox – 6||October 11||Fenway Park||35,205||2:27|
|2||Reds – 3, Red Sox – 2||October 12||Fenway Park||35,205||2:38|
|3||Red Sox – 5, Reds – 6 (10 inns)||October 14||Riverfront Stadium||55,392||3:03|
|4||Red Sox – 5, Reds – 4||October 15||Riverfront Stadium||55,667||2:52|
|5||Red Sox – 2, Reds – 6||October 16||Riverfront Stadium||56,393||2:23|
|6||Reds – 6, Red Sox – 7 (12 inns)||October 21||Fenway Park||35,205||4:01|
|7||Reds – 4, Red Sox – 3||October 22||Fenway Park||35,205||2:52|
Awards and honors
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Bristol
- Johnson, Lloyd; Wolff, Miles, eds. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (2nd ed.). Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America. ISBN 978-0-9637189-8-3.
- 1975 Boston Red Sox team page at Baseball Reference
- 1975 Boston Red Sox season at baseball-almanac.com