July 5, 2017
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.
In the Boston Red Sox of 1975, momentum, personality and chance converged to create an irresistible alternative to the hopelessly square Cincinnati Reds and irretrievably obnoxious New York Yankees, the era’s twin towers of major league power. Key changes had been made to the ’74 lineup: Jim Rice and Fred Lynn joined the outfield, Rick Burleson stopped at short, and Carlton “Pudge” Fisk, benched for torn ligaments, returned as catcher. Already embedded were first baseman Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski, star of Boston’s last championship season (1967); right fielder Dwight Evans; and third baseman Rico Petrocelli. The pitching staff included Rick Wise, team leader with 19 wins; reliever Dick Drago, earner of eight saves in the stretch; the pot-growing, tree-hugging Bill “Spaceman” Lee; and Luis Tiant, the cigar-chomping Cuban whose public reunion with a father he hadn’t seen in 14 years (cleared with Fidel Castro by George McGovern) was the season’s feel-good story.
Sophomore manager Darrell Johnson, a nonentity among his more flamboyant peers, briefly found a groove: 1975 would bring the sole pennant to an eight-year managerial career spanning three teams. (Plagued by losses and booze, he would be fired the next year.) Everyone contributed, from Glimmer Twins Rice and Lynn to glue-factory candidates Yaz and Tiant, with the indestructible Fisk as anchor. (Pudge had played Class A ball in Waterloo, Iowa, where I grew up: hence my father’s love of a team from a city he’d never seen.) They swept Oakland for the American League pennant, then faced Cincinnati in a World Series still ranked by many as the greatest ever. Its peak was the epic Game Six, a must-win for the Sox. Pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo, another journeyman reborn, had homered for three runs and the saving tie, and half past midnight in the bottom of the twelfth, Fisk broke it — hitting a long fly down the left-field line, waving his arms to push the ball fair. It bounced off the pole and into the grass.
Earth and atmosphere had met in a conspiracy of joy. The record books say Cincinnati won the Series — proving the limits on what can be learned from record books. 1975 was a secret victory of the flawed human apparatus over the well-oiled winning machine. When the Reds won that year, baseball nodded. When the Yankees won, baseball strutted. When the Red Sox won, baseball simply smiled.
#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACK LIPS PERFORMANCE CULT | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Mimi Lipson on TBD | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on TBD | Anthony Miller on TBD | Jordan Ellenberg on BOUBAKI | Jenny Offill on TBD | Kio Stark on TBD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM.
KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.