In the 65-year history of hallowed Fenway Park, there have been innumerable happenings of historical and social significance, but never before has there been a public flogging.
The events of this past weekend, culminating in yesterday’s thunderous five-homer, 11-1 humiliation of the Yankees before 34,750, clearly qualify as the precedent-setter. Perhaps never in the history of baseball-and here the correspondent is choosing his words with extreme care-has one pennant contender been thoroughly out-played by another in every major phase of the game for such an extended period of time. Without even considering the repercussions, the 9-4, 10-4 and 11-1 Red Sox triumphs over New York were so overwhelming as to render the usual run of adjectives impotent.
The series began with the Red Sox blasting four first-inning home runs off Catfish Hunter on Friday night. It ended with Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and George Scott hitting home runs in Boston’s last inning at-bat, and with Ferguson Jenkins retiring the last 16 Yankees he faced. In between, the Red Sox were New York’s superior at the plate, in the field, on the mound and on the base paths.
The 103,910 diamond devotees who made Fenway Park the only place to be these past three days will doubtless remember the home runs above all else, and with reason. The Red Sox crunched five more yesterday for a record- breaking series total of 16 (to New York’s none). Four of them belonged to men with home run strokes-Rice, Yaz, Boomer and Bernie Carbo. But their dingers were all for the stat men. The big blow of the game was struck by Denny Doyle, who deposited a 2-1 pitch thrown by Ed Figueroa into the Yankee bullpen in the fourth. That three-run homer broke a 1-1 tie and provided Jenkins, who yielded just an unearned run in the second, with an ample cushion.
The display of firepower dominated all conversation, and so Jenkins was a near-forgotten postgame hero, despite having thrown his second three-hitter of the season. Fergie did benefit from inaccurately-placed line drives in the early innings (Reggie Jackson ripped two savage liners for a near-double play and a double play, for example), but once Jenkins got by the fourth, he was in command.
Figueroa had nothing from the outset, and it was a minor miracle he lasted as long as he did. Two walks and a Rice RBI single (one of his four hits) followed Doyle’s key belt in the fourth, and two walks and a Butch Hobson single finally chased Figueroa in the fifth. Yastrzemski’s RBI single provided a sixth run an inning later, and Carbo’s third screen job in two days made it 7-1 in the seventh.
The you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me finale to this baseball orgy came in the eighth. The Red Sox had a chance for various three-, four- and five-game homer records, and they got them. With one out Rice launched one into the ionosphere, the ball disappearing a foot to the left of the flagpole. Yaz followed with a monstrous foul line wallop that struck the facing of the right field roof.
And when Scott followed a Fisk ground-out with yet another center-field bleacher shot, the Sox had the major league records for homers in three (16), four (again 16 - think about that) and five (21) games.
This assault on our senses is over; the mind now takes over as custodian of the stupefying events. Let’s put it this way: If there is a heaven for Red Sox fans, this series will be running on video tape for all eternity.