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BOSTON RED SOX
April 18, 1966
Brother Malcolm, evangelist, seer and healer of the sick, was positively aquiver with emotion as he faced his congregation and shouted: "We are sinners!"
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April 18, 1966

Boston Red Sox

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Brother Malcolm, evangelist, seer and healer of the sick, was positively aquiver with emotion as he faced his congregation and shouted: "We are sinners!"

"Yes, Brother, oh yes," came the chorus of the repentant. "Yes, we are all sinners," said Brother Malcolm. "But—brothers and sisters—we are not doomed."

"Hallelujah," came the chorus.

Just a mile or so from where Brother had pitched his tent in Winter Haven, Fla., Dick Radatz, all 6 feet 5, 260 pounds of him, loomed up above another group of sinners—the Boston Red Sox—and said essentially the same thing. In a most remarkable opening to spring training, Radatz, flanked by brethren Carl Yastrzemski and Earl Wilson, who, after a thorough winter housecleaning, are now the senior practitioners on the Boston team, preached hellfire and damnation for two hours in a meeting closed to manager, coaches and press.

"The only thing that could keep the Red Sox together this long is a keg of beer," said one reporter in a tone signifying deep cynicism and, unfortunately, logic. Last year the Red Sox had the league's second-leading batter ( Yastrzemski), the league's leading home run hitter ( Tony Conigliaro) and the guy who used to be the best relief pitcher in baseball ( Dick Radatz). To supplement this was enough punch to score 669 runs. But the Red Sox were even better at visiting friendly neighborhood taverns and staying there until the umpire broke up the party with a cheerless call to play ball. The result? Ninth place—and the worst Red Sox won-and-lost percentage since 1932.

It was the seventh successive second-division finish for the Red Sox, but for a change the players were genuinely unhappy about it. "It got so I was ashamed to admit I was a Red Sox," said Yastrzemski. "This has gone far enough," said Radatz. "We shall reform."

"Hallelujah," came the chorus.

While such manifestation of rehabilitation was encouraging, Manager Billy Herman had decided long before that there were going to be more tangible changes made. Felix Mantilla, for instance, was a second baseman who reacted to ground balls with a deft head shake. He countered this with a knack for hitting the ball over the left-field wall that looms up just in back of the infield in Fenway Park. Shortstop Eddie Bressoud and Third Baseman Frank Malzone had the same attributes. But during a game in Los Angeles last summer, a seed of heresy popped into Herman's head. Rookie Pitcher Jim Lonborg has an excellent sinker ball and he was throwing it with great effectiveness, as was indicated by five straight ground balls hit by Los Angeles batters. And all five went scooting past the Boston infielders.

"That does it," said Herman, racing for the mound. "That was a terrible exhibition."

"I'm sorry, Billy," said Lonborg.

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