For Red Sox fans, those two simple words are usually followed by one of two names — Carlton Fisk and Bill Buckner. One name conjures up images of sheer elation and ultimate triumph; the other, abysmal failure and utter depression.
You can’t boil down 113 years of hardball history for Boston’s American League entry to one game in a particular playoff series. But with the Red Sox on the precipice of winning the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time in 95 years, tonight’s Game 6 could very well join — or surpass — those above-mentioned 1975 and 1986 contests among the most memorable in franchise history.
Think about it. It was exactly two months before an armistice was agreed to, ending the ‘Great War’ in victory for the Allies, that the Red Sox last celebrated a world championship on Fenway soil. On that afternoon, Sept. 11, 1918, Carl Mays fired a complete game three-hitter and his teammates scored twice in the third inning on an outfield error to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, and wrap up the title in six games.
The number of folks in attendance at Fenway that day, 15,238, might be what a premium ticket costs some fans tonight if money is no issue and they absolutely have to be at the park. (Consider that with inflation, 5 dollars in 1918 translates into about $75.50 today, that’s still an absurdly through-the-roof markup).
Many folks my age and older can recall the exact details of where they were and who they were with when Fisk’s iconic home run clanged off the foul pole in Game 6 of the ‘75 Series against The Big Red Machine from Cincinnati. The blast, coming on Reds reliever Pat Darcy’s second pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning, was a long, towering drive that the Boston catcher emphatically tried to wave it fair via body language as he leaped up the first base line. While the Red Sox ultimately lost that all-time classic series in seven games, Game 6 remains forever etched in minds and our souls (and gets extra bonus points for being a focal point of conversation between Will Hunting and Sean Maguire in ‘Good Will Hunting’).