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From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, October 9, 1967
IN RETROSPECT THE 1967 AMERICAN LEAGUE RACE SEEMED destined from the start to be won by the Red Sox, who now take their place with the '14 Braves and the '51 Giants as the most improbable pennant winners in baseball's long and wonderful history. Since July, people in New England had been talking about the Red Sox and their chances of winning as "the impossible dream."
The man who had made the Red Sox win all season long was Carl Yastrzemski, the brown-eyed, 28-year-old leftfielder who in the last two dramatic games against the Twins did more than it seems possible for one man to do in a baseball game. Yastrzemski made breathtaking running catches and at least one utterly extraordinary throw, and he hit—oh, how he hit! Eight times he came to the plate in the two games, and seven times he got hits.
Boston's chances for a pennant required a sweep of the Twins, and Minnesota had its two best pitchers, Jim Kaat and Dean Chance, ready to pitch. But in this showdown series on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the Twins played their absolute worst. An elbow injury forced Kaat out of the first game in the third inning, but even so, Minnesota carried a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning before Boston got two runs. The Twins tied the game in the sixth, but when Ron Kline came on in relief, George Scott launched his first pitch into the centerfield stands for a homer that put the Sox ahead. In the seventh Boston put two runners on base, one on a grievous error by shortstop Zoilo Versalles, and Yastrzemski came to bat. Carl instantly homered into the bullpen, and one Vice President, six governors, two senators and all of Boston stood up and cheered, though Hubert Humphrey was just being polite.
That homer eventually proved to be the hit that won Yastrzemski baseball's Triple Crown and Boston the pennant. When Yastrzemski went out to leftfield the next inning, with the crowd still cheering, he scraped for a moment at the grass with his spikes. Then, when the crowd finally quieted down, he looked up into the stands and raised his cap just slightly. Later he said, "I knew the dream was no longer impossible."
In the second game Yastrzemski had trouble picking up a base hit by Harmon Killebrew, and it went through his legs for an error that let Minnesota go ahead 2-0. "I felt awful," he said afterward, "like I goofed the whole world up." But in the sixth inning Yaz's hit was the key one that rocketed Boston to the championship. With the bases loaded and the Red Sox still down 2-0, he deftly pounded a single to center to tie the game. That was the inning that pitcher Jim Lonborg launched with a startling safe bunt, and when it was over, Boston led 5-2.
When the game was over Yastrzemski was pounded on the back by Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Red Sox for more than three decades. "Carl, I don't know what to say to thank you," Yawkey said. "In my 33 years of baseball nothing has ever had me more excited."