Boston Red Sox
As current World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox certainly have a lot to shout about. However, their recent successes were preceded by a long spell in the wilderness, during which time they became convinced that they were cursed. However, their history is one of famous names and memorable feats, and they are hoping that they can continue with their winning streak into the 2008 season.
The Boston Americans
The Boston Red Sox began life under the name of the Boston Americans in 1901. They finished second and third in their first two seasons respectively, plying their trade in the American League.
They initially played their games at Huntington Avenue Grounds, under the guidance of manager and third baseman, Jimmy Collins.
They also had inspirational team hero, Denton Tru ‘Cy’ Young, a legendary pitcher who, in the first 100 years of baseball, was the only pitcher to win 500 games.
In 1903 the Americans made history by winning the first ever World Series, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3. Having already cemented their name in the record books, they then had a chance to repeat the feat in 2004. However, the New York Giants refused to play any postseason matches, so the chance of another World Series shot was off. It was only in 1905 that the World Series became a permanent fixture.
The Red Sox
In 1906 the team were renamed the Boston Red Sox. However, they struggled over the next few years to find form, despite the arrival of some legendary players including Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood.
In 1912, following a move to their new ground Fenway Park, they finally got back to their winning ways by taking the pennant once again. With 105 wins and a .691 winning percentage, they also reached a new club record.
Back in the World Series, they managed to fend off the New York Giants to triumph 4-3, with one tie, to get their second title.
Three more World Series titles
Joseph Lannin came in as the owner of the club in 1913, and during his short spell in charge he was responsible for bringing in George Herman Ruth, better known as Babe Ruth, and now one of the most famous players in the history of the game.
In 1915 they hit the heights once again, reaching the World Series by notching up 101 wins. This time around they dominated the series against the Philadelphia Phillies, finally taking it 4-1.
Amazingly, they managed to complete the same feat the following year, helped in no small part by Ruth, to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-1.
They then only had to wait another two years before they found themselves in contention once again at the 1918 World Series. Up against the Chicago Cubs, Ruth and Carl Mays took two games each, to win 4-2, their fifth victory in five World Series appearances.
In 1920 Babe Ruth, although one of the greatest players ever, was sold to the New York Yankees, with disciplinary problems thought to be the reason.
This preceded many high-profile sales at the clubs, some more controversial than others, that led to the steady decline of the Red Sox.
Despite their phenomenal record in their first two decades, the next 13 years proved to be difficult ones, with most seasons mounting up heavy losses, and they failed to get close to matching their previous performances.
In 1933, the club was taken over by Tom Yawkey, and it marked the beginning of a better run of fortune over the next couple of decades.
This included the arrival in 1939 of Ted Williams, the legendary hitter, who managed to notch up 521 home runs during his time with the club.
Williams played a large role in getting them to the 1946 World Series, but he failed to perform at the last hurdle and they went out to the St Louis Cardinals 4-3.
They came close again in 1948 and 1949, but no visits to the World Series arose. The 1950s then marked a period of very little success for the club, with Williams the only real stand-out player on the team.
The Impossible Dream
The 1960s, although not a particularly successful period, did include some memorable moments.
The most famous of these came in 1967, which has since come to be known as ‘The Impossible Dream’. It is so named because it was one of the closest pennant races in the history of baseball, with four teams all still competing for victory right up until the last week. But it was the Red Sox who prevailed, and they went through to the World Series for the first time in 21 years.
With their star player, Carl ‘Yaz’ Yastrzemski, they went in full of confidence only to lose to their rivals the St Louis Cardinals 4-3.
It was, however, a successful year for Yastrzemski, as he went on to win the highly-coveted Triple Crown, the last batter ever to have got the award.
They would have to wait until 1975 to win their next pennant. Joining Yastrzemski was a whole hoard of talented players, and that year Fred Lynn managed to win both the Rookie of the Year award and the Most Valuable Player award, a feat not repeated by any player until 2001.
Their opponents in the World Series were the Cincinnati Reds. It was a tight series and, at 3-2 down, they went into Game 6 in what is now considered one of the most exciting games in World Series history.
The Reds were giving everything they had, but it was the Red Sox who managed to overcome them, and they secured their victory with a home run by Carlton Fisk right at the end.
In what would be a huge anticlimax, however, they could not capitalise on the momentum from the win and went on to lose the series 4-3.
Ups and downs
In 1978 they were involved in a tight race against the New York Yankees, giving up a far superior lead early on in the season to take it to a playoff. Here they lost a close match 5-4, and disappointingly failed to reach the postseason.
The team would not find success for a few years to come, with the low point coming in 1983. Not only was it a terrible season for the club, but it was made worse by the exit of Yastrzemski at the end. It seemed that dark times lay ahead.
However, only three years later, in 1986, they were back in business, coming top of the American League East to reach the playoffs.
After dispatching the California Angels they were back in the World Series, this time up against the New York Mets. In trying to get their first title in 68 years, they went to an early lead of 2-0 and were hopeful of coming out on top. However, the opposition fought back in the next two games, tying the score at 2-2.
The Red Sox took the next game to make it 3-2, and were certain that they could now finish it off. In the sixth game, they came so close to clinching the title that for a brief moment they were hailed as champions on the scoreboard, needing only one strike to win.
However, incredibly, they could not manage it and it went to 3-3. The moment was lost, and they went on to lose the final game and the World Series.
Although doing well in 1988, they failed to reach the World Series by going out to Oakland Athletics in the ALCS (American League Championship Series). Exactly the same would happen two years later, facing the same opposition at the last hurdle and going out once again.
In 1995 they reached the postseason once more, but went out to the Cleveland Indians, meaning that they had not won a postseason game since the 1986 World Series.
In 1998 they won the AL Wild Card, but again went out to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, which they lost again the following year to the New York Yankees.
Epstein changes things around
In 2002 Theo Epstein was appointed general manager, and in doing so he became, at 28, the youngest person ever to hold that position in the history of the game.
He managed to take them to the ALCS in 2003, but yet again they could not get any further as they lost to the Yankees 4-3.
Success at last
In 2004, their run of bad luck finally came to an end, and they beat the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS (American League Division Series) to reach the ALCS against the Yankees once again.
It all started badly. They immediately crumbled to a 3-0 loss, and were on the brink of going out. However, they somehow managed to stage one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the series to win 4-3, becoming the first team ever to come back from 3-0 down.
It was back to the World Series for the Red Sox, this time against the St Louis Cardinals. Although they had lost to the same opposition twice before, they would not lose this time, and went on to sweep them 4-0.
On a memorable night, they won the World Series during a total lunar eclipse, adding something special to their return to the title and the breaking of their curse.
Epstein resigned on October 31st, 2005, only to be reinstated on January 19th, 2006. It seemed that he still had work to do at the club, and his return was welcomed when he led them to a 12-game winning steak, the third longest in their history. But, despite this, they could only manage third place.
The Red Sox were hungry for success after two unspectacular seasons, and in 2007 they would once again take the division by storm. By mid-April, they had taken the lead and they never looked back.
In the ALDS, they beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a sweep, to send them through to the ALCS on a high. However, they slumped to 3-1 behind against the Cleveland Indians, and had to give everything they had to stage a comeback.
Amazingly, they did just that to reach the World Series for the second time in four seasons, this time up against the Colorado Rockies. In the end it proved to be a one-sided affair, and they swept their opposition 4-0 to take home their seventh World Series title.
World Series Titles
- 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007
American League Pennants
- 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 2004, 2007
American League East Division Titles
- 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2007
Projected Line-up for 2008
- Jacoby Ellsbury: CF
- Dustin Pedroia: 2B
- David Ortiz: DH
- Manny Ramirez: LF
- Mike Lowell: 3B
- Kevin Youkilis: 1B
- J. D. Drew: RF
- Jason Varitek: C
- Julio Lugo: SS
- 1: Bobby Doerr
- 4: Joe Cronin
- 8: Carl Yastrzemski
- 9: Ted Williams
- 27: Carlton Fisk
- 42: Jackie Robinson