Fenway Park were tearing at the buttons of Jim Lonborg's uniform. It was Oct.
1, 1967, and the Red Sox hurler had just thrown a complete-game, 5-3 victory
over the Minnesota Twins on the final day of the season to clinch the Sox'
first pennant in 21 years. Says Lonborg, 65, "I had to get back in the
clubhouse to see what I had left on."
In Games 2 and 5
against the Cardinals, Lonborg set a World Series record by giving up just four
combined hits in back-to-back starts. But in the seventh game, on just two
days' rest, his right arm gave out, and Boston fell 7-2. Still, after finishing
the regular season 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 273 innings,
Lonborg was the first Red Sox to win the Cy Young Award.
Of course, those
were the days before free agency and multimillion-dollar contracts. So after
Lonborg, who graduated from Stanford as a pre-med, hung up his cleats in 1979,
his wife, Rosemary, suggested dentistry. Lonborg graduated from the dental
program at Tufts in 1983 and three years later opened his own practice in
Hanover, Mass., 10 miles from his home in Scituate. Among Lonborg's 3,000
patients are his former catcher Jerry Moses and more than a few Sox fans for
whom '67 remains a beautiful dream. "Life as a successful ballplayer is the
best in the world," says Lonborg. "Dentistry is more grounded. It gives
you a great sense of community."