The glass slipper that everyone thought belonged to Cinderella wound up on her step-sister’s foot.
The Red Sox’ fairy tale ended Thursday. The St. Louis Cardinals, behind their strong-armed right-hander, Bob Gibson, became baseball champions of the world with a 7-2 victory at Fenway Park.
Gibson won his third game of the Series – this time throwing a three-hitter at the emotionally exhausted Red Sox and their legions of fans.
That was the end of the impossible dream, one that started in April with the Red Sox picked to finish in the second division. The dream grew day by day as the Red Sox kept coming back to post win after win. It lasted through the frantic days of the pennant race, right down to the seventh game of the series.
Then it ended, but what a beautiful dream it was.
Now, back to reality…
Workers who would be up in the coffee shop still raving about the Red Sox all winter had Gibson been beaten, will settle down to normalcy, waiting for another year.
Housewives won’t be interrupting one another to discuss the wonderful Red Sox.
Parties which would have been started immediately after Gibson had been beaten would have gone on for weeks possibly. Now a couple of beers and the season will be pretty much a memory.
The only sign of song-making in that Red Sox room after the loss was some humming by a few who were recalling Maria Grever’s “What a Difference a Day Made.” Gibson and Jim Lonborg had two wins a piece, but Bob had an extra day of rest, having pitched Sunday in St. Louis while Jim pitched the next day out there.
There were cakes all over the tables and nobody touched them. Nobody even sniffed at all the pretty flowers. The people in the Red Sox room just walked past all the good luck telegrams – hundreds of them on the walls in the dressing room.
The beer was slow to be drunk. Nobody even thought to grab a can of shaving lotion and squeeze it over someone’s head. Darn that Bob Gibson!
The Red Sox had waited 21 years since the St. Louis team beat them in seven games in 1946. Now the same dose again.
The Red Sox had been 100 to 1 under-dogs in the pennant fight and had won the American League race. The crowds all year had been great, setting a seasonal attendance record 1,692,337 and, coupled with four Series games here, a total of 1,832,699.
The Red Sox had fought back from a 3-1 deficit to even the series at 3-3 and a great duel was scheduled between Gibson and Lonborg.
Gibson gave up only three hits in the game, and Lonborg was knocked out after six innings when he was hit for 10 base hits, including a home run by Gibson and a three-run homer by Julian Javier.
There was some rumbling about Dick having gone too long with Lonborg. Dick said: “He was my best and he had pretty good stuff, so I went with him. He’s been great. Javier hit that homer and we thought he might be bunting. He fooled us.”
Lonborg shared the manager’s opinion, “I made a couple of bad pitches, two bad sliders to Gibson and Javier. Otherwise I threw some pretty good pitches, I thought.”
The 35,188 spared the Red Sox even the slightest bit of disgruntlement. When the teams star of the year, Carl Yastrzemski, came to bat in the ninth he received a standing ovation. He responded with a single off Gibson.
“A great pitcher, Gibson,” said Yastrzemski. “He’s the type of pitcher who can beat you with bad stuff, he knows so much about his work.”
To think that there were parties all scheduled for the Red Sox at the Somerset, parades due to be formed, excitement all over the city.
But Gibson, with his fine fast ball and quick slider, was impossible to beat. “Like to have been close,” said Yastrzemski. “But when he had that 7-1 lead it was too much.”
Gibson only gave up one hit in the first seven innings, a line triple to deep center field by George Scott in the fifth to open the inning. George’s whack got past Curt Flood and bounced around in the triangle at the 420-foot mark. Javier, once he got the relay from the outfield, threw it into the Cardinals dugout and George scored.
The Red Sox’ final run came in the eighth. Rico Petrocelli doubled to start the inning and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored on an infield out.
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching Gibson work the Red Sox hitters over, inside and outside, up and down, and the Cardinals spectacular left fielder, Lou Brock, tore up the ground running the bases.
Brock stole three for the day, two in the fifth and a third in the ninth to set a record of seven stolen bases in a World Series.
“The most exciting player in the whole show,” said manager Red Schoendienst, who stuck his head in his dressing room before the game and didn’t emerge until the lineups had to be given to the umpires.