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What curse?

Red Sox finally get to end 86 years of disappointment

Posted: Thursday October 28, 2004 12:50AM; Updated: Thursday October 28, 2004 1:38AM
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History of The Curse
Jan. 3, 1920 -- Boston, winners of five World Series appearances (1903, 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918) sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox received a fee of $125,000 plus a loan of $350,000 for Ruth, and superstitious fans believe a curse was thrown in for free. The "Curse of the Bambino" has followed Boston through four World Series defeats -- each one in seven games.
May 8, 1926 -- During a span in which Boston lost over 100 games in three consecutive seasons, much of the left-field bleacher sections in Fenway Park were destroyed by a fire.
Jan. 4, 1934 -- When Tom Yawkey purchased the Red Sox in 1933, restoration began on Fenway to repair damage from the 1926 fire. During construction, another fire swept through the ballpark, undoing much of the progress.
Oct. 15, 1946 -- In Boston's first visit to the World Series since 1918, the Red Sox lost a decisive Game 7 to the Cardinals. Tied at 3-all in the eighth inning, Enos Slaughter scored from first on Harry Walker's double in the bottom half when shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated with his relay throw.
Oct. 4, 1948 -- The Red Sox lost 8-3 to Cleveland in a one-game playoff for the American League pennant.
Oct. 12, 1967 -- The Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in their next visit to the World Series. After leading the Red Sox to victory in Games 2 and 5, Jim Lonborg returned to the mound in Game 7 against the Cardinals' Bob Gibson. Gibson gave up three hits while Lonborg, pitching on only two days rest, allowed the Cardinals to score seven runs for a 7-2 loss.
March 22, 1972 -- In yet another of a long line of bad Boston trades, the Yankees acquired relief pitcher Sparky Lyle for first baseman Danny Cater. Lyle was a three-time all-star with the Yankees and won the AL Cy Young Award in 1977.
Oct. 14, 1975 -- Cincinnati took a 2-1 lead in the World Series with a controversial 6-5, 10-inning win. Reds pinch-hitter Ed Armbrister hesitated after a bunt and collided with catcher Carlton Fisk, who was trying to field the ball. Fisk's throwing error allowed Cesar Geronimo to advance to third -- and later score the game-winning run. Home plate umpire Larry Barnett ruled there was no interference despite heated protests by the Red Sox.
Oct. 22, 1975 -- One day after Carlton Fisk hit a 12th-inning homer off the left-field foul pole to win Game 6, Boston lost Game 7 by wasting a 3-0 lead. Joe Morgan blooped a go-ahead ninth-inning single off Jim Burton in Cincinnati's 4-3 win.
Oct. 2, 1978 -- The Red Sox lost the only other one-game playoff in AL history. Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer off Mike Torrez to lead the Yankees to a 5-4 victory at Fenway Park. The Red Sox at one point in the year had a 14-game lead over the Yankees in the East division.
Oct. 25, 1986 -- The Red Sox were one strike away from the title. But then came Bob Stanley's tying wild pitch and Mookie Wilson's winning grounder through the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner in Game 6.
Oct. 27, 1986 -- Boston again wasted a 3-0 lead in Game 7, losing 8-5.
Nov. 5, 1996 -- Roger Clemens was granted free agency after Boston's then-general manager Dan Duquette said the pitcher was in the "twilight" of his career. Over the next eight years, Clemens
went on to post a 136-53 record while earning three more Cy Young awards and two World Series rings with the Yankees.
Oct. 18, 1999 -- Boston blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth and stranded 11 runners in a 6-1 loss to New York in Game 5 of the ALCS. The victory clinched the Yankees' 36th American League Pennant and led to their 25th World Series title since the acquisition of Ruth.
Oct. 16, 2003 -- Aaron Boone homered off Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7 of the ALCS and the Yankees advanced to the World Series for the sixth time in eight years. Boone was just 2-for-16 in the ALCS before the home run.
Feb. 14, 2004 -- The Yankees and the Texas Rangers agreed to the outline of a deal that sent Alex Rodriguez to New York. The Red Sox nearly acquired A-Rod in December of 2003, but a proposed deal that would have sent outfielder Manny Ramirez to Texas fell through because the players' association blocked Boston's attempt to restructure Rodriguez's record $252 million, 10-year contract.
June 13, 2004 -- Hoping to lift the curse, divers attempted to find and raise the sunken remains of a piano that Babe Ruth allegedly pushed into Willis pond in Sudbury, Mass. after the 1918 World Series. The fourth such dive surfaced without so much as a pedal or a piano string.

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Harry Frazee was ready for the reaction.

The Boston Red Sox owner had just sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and a $350,000 loan.

"Ruth had simply become impossible and the Boston club could no longer put up with his eccentricities," he said. "While Ruth, without question, is the greatest hitter the game has ever seen, he is likewise one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men that ever wore a baseball uniform."

So began what's now known as The Curse of the Bambino, on Jan. 3, 1920. It lasted until Wednesday night, when the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 for a sweep and their first World Series title since 1918.

"We don't believe in no stinking curses," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said in the champagne-soaked clubhouse.

The Series flag will return to Fenway Park on April 11, and the Yankees -- of all teams -- will get to watch it rise. New York, which blew a three-games-to-none lead against the Red Sox in the AL championship series, is the visiting team in Boston's home opener.

For the first time in more than eight decades, the Red Sox can put behind them the sad history that is so well known by players and fans who suffered with them for 85 seasons.

"I didn't believe in it. I wasn't around then," manager Terry Francona said. "I'm sure there are a lot of people in New England that are dancing in the streets right now. For that, I'm thrilled. I can't wait to go back and join them."

The Red Sox had won five of the first 15 World Series before the trade.

Ruth, then a pitcher, too, threw a six-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs in the opener at Comiskey Park, winning 1-0. He then beat the Cubs 3-2 at Fenway in Game 4 on three days' rest.

When Stuffy McInnis gloved second baseman Dave Shean's throw to first on Les Mann's grounder to seal Boston's 2-1 victory in Game 6 at Fenway, the reaction was muted. Perhaps it was because World War I caused the major leagues to stop the season a month early. That final game, played on Sept. 11, drew just over 15,000 fans.

"Boston is the luckiest baseball spot on earth, for it has never lost a world's series," The New York Times reported the following day.

Still, the gloominess was unmistakable.

"After the game, the crowd filed out of the gates with about as much enthusiasm as a party of home folks trooping out of a poor-moving picture show," the report said. "No hero was proclaimed, no player got a ride on any one's shoulders. no star was patted on the back or wildly cheered to a niche in baseball's temple of fame. The finish was as uneventful as the last moment of a double-header in Brooklyn."

And then came the drought.

Boston didn't get back to the World Series until 1946. That's when shortstop Johnny Pesky did or didn't hold the relay as Enos Slaughter scored from first on Harry Walker's eighth-inning double, which provided the go-ahead run in the Cardinals' 4-3 win in Game 7 at Sportsman's Park.

In 1967, the Red Sox and Cardinals went to the seventh game again and started Jim Lonborg, who pitched a one-hit shutout in Game 2 and a three-hitter in Boston's Game 5 win. Pitching on two days' rest, Lonborg lost 7-2 at Fenway to Bob Gibson, who pitched a three-hitter on three days' rest for his third win of the Series.

In 1975, Carlton Fisk hit a 12th-inning homer off the left-field foul pole to win Game 6, jumping and famously waving his arms to will the ball fair. But Boston wasted a 3-0 lead in Game 7, also at Fenway. Joe Morgan blooped a go-ahead ninth-inning single off Jim Burton in Cincinnati's 4-3 win.

Perhaps the worst torture came in 1986 when the Red Sox came within a strike of winning the title in Game 6. But then came Bob Stanley's tying wild pitch and Mookie Wilson's winning grounder through the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner. Boston again wasted a 3-0 lead in Game 7, losing 8-5.

"This team deserved better," Stanley said then. "We deserved to win, but we didn't."

Even if it took years for all that bad luck to be formally called The Curse, Boston's dismay was immediately clear when Ruth was sent packing.

"This is not the first time that Boston baseball has been shocked by the sale of a wonderful player," The Boston Post said in an editorial. "Cy Young and Tris Speaker went their ways, much to the disgust of the faithful, but the club did not suffer materially. But Ruth is different."

Perhaps too different for Frazee.

"Had he possessed the right disposition, had he been willing to take orders and work for the good of the club like other men on the team, I would never had dared let him go," Frazee said. "Twice during the past two seasons Babe has jumped the club and revolted. He refused to obey orders of the manager."

And the rest is history.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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