fb-pixel Skip to main content
Dan Shaughnessy

Historically, July 4 hasn’t been a big day for fireworks in local sports, and other thoughts

Yankees lefthander Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in 1983.Ray Stubblebine/Associated Press

Picked-up pieces while burning the midnight oil in the research lab with Jarren Duran …

▪ Happy Fourth of July weekend. The Fourth is an American favorite and hopefully you are reading this while sprawled on the sand at Craigville Beach in Centerville.

This holiday is not filled with tons of great local sports memories. Maybe that’s no surprise when you remember that George Steinbrenner was born on the Fourth of July.

Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on a brutally hot July 4 in the summer of 1983. Hall of Famer Wade Boggs struck out, swinging, for the final out of Righetti’s masterpiece. It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Billy Martin was at both games, playing second base behind Larsen in ‘56 and managing the Yankees for Steinbrenner in ‘83.


“I have vivid memories of that,” Boggs said over the phone this past week. “It was hotter than all blazes. Jerry Mumphrey was supposed to be playing center field, and he normally shades me to left-center.” (Don’t you love how these guys remember and talk about everything like it was yesterday?)

“He came down with something that day and they put Dave Winfield in center, and for some reason Winfield shaded me to right-center and I hit two rockets that would have been doubles if Mumphrey was playing, but for some silly reason Winfield shaded me toward right-center and ran them both down.

“When I was walking to the plate in the ninth, I was thinking to myself, ‘If I get a hit, I’m not leaving New York alive.’ I struck out on a pretty ugly slider. Righetti wasn’t fun to face. He had a [Ron] Guidry slider. On that last pitch, he dropped down a little more and I saw it behind me and swung and missed and the rest is history.”


Other Fourth of July highlights/lowlights in Boston sports:

On July 4, 1960, the ragtag Boston Patriots of the brand-new American Football League held their first-ever workout at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. There were 350 players at the tryouts, including 12 quarterbacks and nine centers.

“Players came from every corner of the country,” the late, great Gino Cappelletti recalled later. “Some were professional wrestlers. Some had played in the NFL 10 years ago and were trying to make a comeback. There were a few rookies, a few draft choices, but other than that, it was a comedy of people who showed up to play. Some guys had never played before.”

On July 4, 1970, Tony and Billy Conigliaro both homered against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park.

On July 4, 2013, the Bruins traded Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button to Dallas for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser. In 2017, the Celtics signed Gordon Hayward on the Fourth of July. None of this worked out particularly well.

Raiders legend Al Davis was born in Brockton on July 4, 1929. Yankees broadcaster John Sterling was born on July 4, 1938. Ed Armbrister and Brendan Donnelly were born on July 4.

Slim pickings, for sure.

Bottom line: Very little happens in local sports on July 4. Three of our four major sports teams are out of season. The weekend belongs to Joey Chestnut, the Boston Pops, and folks sprawled on blankets at Craigville.


▪ Quiz: Only five of the top 25 career major league strikeout leaders were lefthanded pitchers. Name them (answer below).

▪ Why do the Red Sox continue to indulge and protect Chris Sale? When MassLive asked Sale after Thursday’s rehab start whether he has changed his stance on vaccinations, Sale said, “No. I just had a lot of fun. Let’s not ruin that, all right? I’m enjoying this process …. Tomorrow’s going to come. We’ll figure that [expletive] out then, man.”

Swell. Sale makes $30 million per year and has won 11 games in the last four seasons. He’s making Pablo Sandoval look like the free agent steal of the century and yet the Sox still love him.

Chris Sale enjoyed his rehab outing with the Portland Sea Dogs Thursday.Fred J. Field/Fred J. Field for the Boston Glo

▪ Don’t look now, but the hated Houston Astros might be the best team in baseball. The Stros just completed nine consecutive games against the first-place Yankees and Mets and went 7-2.

▪ Now that the Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup, let’s have a celebration at City Hall Plaza for 23-year-old Colorado defenseman Cale Makar, who played two seasons and won a Hobey Baker Award for UMass.

I say this in jest, of course, but it still stings a little to think of how needy we were in June of 2001 when thousands turned out to celebrate Ray Bourque winning a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche after being traded to Colorado by Harry Sinden.


In those days, championship-starved New England hadn’t won a title in 15 full years (1986 Celtics), so we vicariously celebrated with a great Bruin who had to leave town to win a Cup.

In June 2001, Ray Bourque brought the Stanley Cup to Boston — but not as a member of the Bruins.JIM BOURG/REUTERS

▪ Greedy NESN knows no bounds when it comes to dreaded “drop-ins” during Red Sox telecasts. It’s embarrassing. Just about everything is “sponsored.” I’m waiting for Chick-fil-A to start sponsoring foul balls: “Rafael Devers fouls one to the backstop. That Fowl Ball is brought to you by Chick-fil-A.”

▪ The Utah Jazz hiring 34-year-old Will Hardy as head coach gives Division 3 Williams College three connections to the NBA. Miami sharpshooter Duncan Robinson played for the Ephs before going to Michigan and former Williams player Rafael Stone (’94) is general manager of the Houston Rockets.

▪ George Clooney is producing a documentary that will focus on the crimes of Richard Strauss, a former sports doctor at Ohio State who was accused of sexually abusing more than 300 athletes over two decades in Columbus. Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

Grandstanding Republican Congressman Jim Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State while Strauss was team doctor, and several wrestlers have accused Jordan of knowing about the abuse and doing nothing to stop it. Jordan has denied knowledge of the situation and refused to cooperate with investigations.

▪ Does anyone else have a quarrel with the wording of the Jordan’s Furniture guarantee of free purchases if the Red Sox “sweep the world championship”? The phrasing feels intentionally deceptive. Are there consumers who don’t realize that they won’t cash in unless the Sox win the World Series in four straight games? There’s a gigantic difference between winning the World Series and sweeping four straight.


▪ If Novak Djokovic played big league baseball, he would somehow find his way onto the Red Sox roster. One of the greatest tennis players of all time has no intention of getting vaccinated and is prepared to miss two of the four Grand Slam events (US Open and Australian Open) if regulations stay as they are. At least he is not taking down 24 teammates with him.

▪ Hope we have not seen the last of 40-year-old Serena Williams on a tennis court, but it makes you wonder when the GOAT loses a first-round Wimbledon match to the 115th-ranked player.

Serena Williams waved goodbye to Wimbledon after a short stay this year.Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press

▪ The New York tabloids did not disappoint the day after Kyrie (“I got no place else to go!”) Irving accepted his one-year option with the Nets. The back page of the vaunted Post shouted, “KY ANXIETY … setting up another drama-filled year” while the Daily News gave us, “HE’S ALL IN! … so nothing can possibly go wrong now.”

▪ Former Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell is running for Lee County commissioner in Fort Myers, Fla. Greenwell, 58, last played for the Red Sox in 1996 and should have been American League MVP in 1988 when he finished second to Oakland A’s cheater Jose Canseco.

▪ Great summer reading: Pick up “The Church of Baseball,” in which Hollywood director Ron Shelton goes A to Z on the making of “Bull Durham” in 1988. The film’s authenticity comes in part from the fact that Shelton played five seasons of minor league ball and made it to Triple A Rochester in the Orioles system, where he played with Don Baylor and Bobby Grich.

If you remember Annie Savoy’s quote in the movie about trades — “Bad trades are part of baseball. Who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake?” — you’ll love Shelton’s years-later encounter with Pappas, who was not pleased with the line and wouldn’t shake Shelton’s hand.

▪ Sam Bowie, Greg Oden, Chris Sale. Connect the dots.

▪ Quiz answer: Randy Johnson (second), Steve Carlton (fourth), CC Sabathia (17th), Mickey Lolich (22nd), Frank Tanana (25th, soon to be replaced by Clayton Kershaw).

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.