Yankees, Red Sox have a long, bitter history
Posted: Wednesday October 13, 1999 01:17 PM
The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry began in 1920, when Boston sold a then-unknown Babe Ruth. Hulton Getty/Allsport
NEW YORK (AP) -- Beantown vs. the Big Apple. Baseball's best
rivalry is about to resume with, oh, only about 80 years or so of
history coming along for the ride.
The tension between the Red Sox and Yankees began innocently
enough, with the sale in 1920 of an oddly-shaped outfielder so that
Boston owner Harry Frazee could fund the Broadway show "No, No,
Then, Babe Ruth began hitting home runs and it became "Oh, No,
Now, the Curse of the Bambino is a well-established part of
baseball lore, the belief that by selling one the game's first
stars for cold, hard cash, the Red Sox violated some sacred trust.
They've been paying for it ever since.
Now, the rivalry will be resumed with nothing more crucial than
the American League championship at stake. One more chance for the
Red Sox to exact some revenge on a franchise that has won 24 World
Series since the sale of Ruth, which is 24 more than Boston.
From Babe and his 60 home runs in 1927 to Bucky and his Green
Monster division-winning homer in 1978, New York has delighted in
In 1976, the bad feelings erupted with a brawl on the field
after Lou Piniella slid into Carlton Fisk and came up punching.
Boston pitcher Bill Lee got slammed to the field in the melee and
wound up with a cracked collarbone.
And that happened in the serenity of May, not the pressure
cooker of October.
"There was no greater rivalry in the '70s," said Yankees coach
Don Zimmer, who managed the Red Sox two decades ago. "Those
players hated each other. I don't think that's the feeling of
Players have come from the Red Sox to Yankees and thrived.
Journeyman outfielder Danny Cater was traded to Boston for Sparky
Lyle, who won a Cy Young Award for the Yankees. Luis Tiant and Wade
Boggs, both Boston heroes, seemed washed up when they signed on as
free agents with the Yankees to resurrect their careers.
Catcher Joe Girardi knows all about the history.
"None of us were Yankees in 1927," he said. "Our frame of
reference is different."
And they weren't Yankees in 1978, either, when New York chopped
away at a 14-game Red Sox lead in July and forced a playoff against
Zimmer's Red Sox in Fenway Park for the AL East title.
Bucky Dent, hardly a Ruthian slugger, hit a three-run homer
against ex-Yankee Mike Torrez to put New York in front and Goose
Gossage got Carl Yastrzemski to pop up for the last out.
"The roar was deafening," said Willie Randolph, the Yankees'
second baseman then and third base coach now.
"I was 12 years old," said Scott Brosius, now the Yankees'
third baseman. "I don't remember watching."
Brosius grew up in Oregon, far removed from the passions that
burned between Boston and New York.
"I was aware of the rivalry, but not to the extent of the
people here," he said. "I didn't know how emotional it was."
Dent, now a coach with the Texas Rangers, had a replica of the
Fenway Green Monster erected at his baseball school.
Girardi learned about the heat of a Red Sox-Yankees series when
he got to New York.
"Unless you experience it, you don't understand it," he said.
"The level of excitement, the intensity of people standing
everywhere in the ballpark, that's what makes it great."
Jim Leyritz of the Yankees also played in Boston.
"You couldn't have a better scenario to close out the
millennium than the Red Sox against the Yankees for the pennant,"
he said. "When I was there, they always wanted to catch up with
the Yankees. You looked at the Yankees and said, 'That's where we
want to get, to that level.'"
Roger Clemens got there by way of Toronto. Clemens was the ace
of the Red Sox staff, a New England folk hero, when he signed as a
free agent with the Blue Jays. Two Cy Young awards later, he was
traded to -- of all people -- the Yankees. Now he will start Game 3
in Fenway Park.
"I've been removed from that situation for so many years," he
said. "If it was one year later, the situation would be different.
But I've faced them so many times and I've been back at Fenway so
many times. I know the mound, the wall. I'm familiar with the
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