It seems not so much a ball park as a house, a quirky brownstone, maybe, with labyrinthine corridors, a circular staircase and an attic with cobwebs and trunks full of musty ballroom gowns. To those who know the place, it is home; to those who do not, it is a candidate for the wrecker's ball. Fenway Park is home to the Red Sox. Everything there is familiar, friendly, comforting. Not so to the Oakland A's, who were weekend guests. Actually, the A's were not so much guests as intruders, but inside Fenway's inhospitable walls they behaved with the florid embarrassment of the unlucky diner who topples his red wine onto the lace tablecloth. The A's came to Fenway bursting with confidence and menace. They left it, in the peculiarly apt words of Reggie Jackson, "wounded and stumbling through the fiasco."
In the first game, which the A's lost 7-1, they set an American League championship series record for errors (four); in the second game, which they lost 6-3, they regained some of their composure, but the Red Sox clearly outplayed them. The Sox seemed to draw inspiration from their family of fans, who crowded into every corner of the old dwelling, chanting, cheering, even singing. The A's were the objects of scorn and derision. As Luis Tiant completely baffled them in the first game with his vegetable stew of pitches, tics and mannerisms, the fans chanted "Loo—ey, Loo—ey, Loo—ey."
They similarly rewarded Rico Petrocelli when he hit a home run in the second game "Ree—co, Ree—co, Ree—co." The warhorse, Carl Yastrzemski, received more standing ovations than a Met soprano. And when victory in the second game—and in the fans' eyes, the series—was assured, the crowd serenaded the once-ominous presence of Charles O. Finley with a chorus of "Goodby, Charlie, we hate to see you go."
From the start, the A's seemed lost in Fenway. Young Claudell Washington never did learn where left field ends and the monstrous green wall begins. In the first game he backed away from the barrier to field Fred Lynn's fly ball off it, attempting to appear as casually professional as his counterpart, Yaz. But the ball hit just a few feet from the bottom of the fence and Washington stared, in wonder. It was, as Yaz himself was to say contemptuously, "an easy catch." Washington looked the fool. In the second game he was spared further indignity by being transferred to designated hitter.
Washington is only in his second big-league year, so he may be excused occasional folly. However, his elders, who should know better, were equally feckless. Third Baseman Sal Bando, who struck out three times, was nearly depantsed by a ground ball in the first game, and Bill North dropped the easiest possible fly in center.
Bando atoned for his early humiliation by slugging four straight hits in the second game and Jackson, who kept falling down in right field, produced a prodigious two-run homer. But Yaz and Rico also hit homers in that game as the Sox defeated the A they feared most, reliever Rollie Fingers. When their dreadful weekend was over and the A's were' limping back to their own drafty home, they looked with new respect at their hosts. The Sox, said Jackson, "know now they can slay the giant."