The 2013 Red Sox have many similarities to one memorable team from the past.
In 1966, the Boston Red Sox were a team that collapsed, finishing 26 games out of first place. At the end of the year they fired their manager.
The new manager for 1967 was a man that had just finished two years managing in Toronto. In 1965 and 1966, Dick Williams managed the Toronto Maple Leafs, the AAA affiliate of the Red Sox. He would be the new skipper of the major league club, returning to the team he was with as a player three years earlier.
The 1966 team was considered a lazy “county club”.
Manager Dick Williams came to Spring Training, and made a bold statement, “We will win more ballgames than we lose”.
The fans of the Red Sox were skeptical of the 1967 team. Opening Day at Fenway saw just 8,324 fans show up at Fenway Park to see Jim Lonborg win his first of what would turn out to be 22 victories in a Cy Young Award winning season.
The following week at Opening Day in Yankee Stadium, a young rookie pitcher named Billy Rohr pitched a no-hitter until two outs in the ninth inning.
A special season was just beginning. Two days later I took the train to New York and witnessed an 18 inning game. The Red Sox lost 7-6. When the last batter, Jake Gibbs, stood in the batters box, I stood close to the right field pole in the Bronx, and pleaded with Tony Conigliaro to move closer to the foul line. Conigliaro never listened to me, of course, and Gibbs hit a game winning ground rule double down the line where I predicted he would hit it.
It was just a week into the new season and Boston had a near no-hitter by a rookie in his first game, and played an 18 inning game.
Baseball in Boston was never as exciting as it was in 1967. It was the year we called “The Impossible Dream”.
Why would 10,000 fans go to Logan Airport to greet the team when they came home from a road trip in July, just because they won 10 games in a row?
That 1967 team would set a new attendance record, drawing 1,727,832 fans, more than any team in the American League. The Red Sox captured the pennant on the last day of the season.
At Game 162 I sat in right field at Fenway Park. There was pandemonium on the field. Even though thousands stormed the field and dug up the mound, and took every sign off the wall, my father would not let me step on the field, because there were more games to be played in Fenway that year. I was fortunate to go to three World Series games as well.
Now flash forward to today.
In 2012, the Boston Red Sox were a team that collapsed, finishing 26 games out of first place. At the end of the year they fired their manager.
The new manager for 2013 has just finished two years managing in Toronto, and now he is returning to the team he was with three years ago.
The 2012 team was considered a lazy “country club”.
Now as we start the Spring Training games, all that we need is for the new manager John Farrell to make a bold statement, and tell the baseball world that the 2013 Red Sox will win more than they lose.
From here we could follow the script from 46 years ago. All that we need to change is the attendance for Opening Day, and reverse the seventh game of the World Series.
Getting 10,000 to go to Logan in July might also be difficult to repeat.
That might really be an Impossible Dream.