By David Carducci
I spent my summers in the 1970s and early 1980s visiting family while going back and forth between Walpole, Mass. and York Beach, Maine. My dad and I would get to Fenway Park whenever possible. If the Red Sox were not in town, we’d go to Pawtucket or Old Orchard Beach to see a AAA game.
In 1985, those drives were spent with my nose hidden behind the cover of Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game – A fascinating collection of stories and analysis considering how baseball changed significantly after Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, “the greatest game ever played,” according to Gammons.
I remember my grandfather leaping into the air and and screaming at the top of his lungs when Carlton Fisk’s historic shot sailed just fair down the line in left and over the Green Monster, sending the BoSox to a seventh game with the Reds. My lasting memories, however, are of Boston’s ongoing struggles after losing the series finale. The 1976 season was such a letdown, and it seemed at the time like the Red Sox would never
quite right the ship. The teams were always entertaining, but the games always seemed to be filtered through an air of frustration – contract squabbles with Fred Lynne, unexpected injuries to players like Bill Lee, the eventual loss of Carlton Fisk, and a sense that Carl Yastrzemski’s brilliant career was nearing an end without a championship payoff.
Reading Beyond the Sixth Game changed my life in that it was the first time I considered a career as a sportswriter. I wanted to be just like Peter Gammons. In fact, one of my life’s thrills was getting to meet and talk with Gammons on the field in Atlanta prior to covering my first World Series in 1995.
Now that I have discovered OOTP, I want to see what baseball beyond the sixth game would be like if I took over for Dick O’Connell as general manager in Boston during the offseason prior to 1976. How would I keep the Red Sox from underachieving? Keep Deron Johnson as manager? There’s so much talent to juggle. Is there a way to keep Cecil Cooper? Can I keep Fred Lynne happy? Can the Red Sox find a way to get a deal for Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers in 1976 without the MLB having to step in “for the good of the game?
I’ll try to answer those questions and more over the next few weeks. Be back tomorrow as I take the Red Sox through the winter meetings, looking for a deal or two to get the Red Sox back to the World Series.
What do you remember of the mid-1970s Red Sox and needs left unfulfilled? What free agents would you consider heading into 1976? Here’s a look at some of the top options, and there is not a lot out there as of March 2.