Another chapter is about to be written in the most famous rivalry in baseball. With the The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees meet this Tuesday at Fenway Park in the 2021 American League Wild Card Game, It made us think of some of our favorite memories from this rivalry, be it a behind-the-scenes story or just moments that impressed us as fans and changed us forever. These are just a few stories.
Buster Olney: The scab was ripped from my memories, the scar tissue was ripped apart, and I suppose we should talk about the ugly and ghastly day the Yankees and Red Sox met on October 2, 1978. I was 14 years old.
My family’s dairy farm is located in Randolph Center, Vermont, a town of 400 people and 1,000 cows, but for the record: I wasn’t a Red Sox fan. I had read a book about Sandy Koufax when I was 8 years old, and not long after that, when I first played in the minor leagues, it was for a team called the Dodgers. Naturally, the Dodgers of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Dusty Baker became my team.
The worst discussion I ever had with my amazing, beloved late mother was about my high school yearbook photo from my senior year, but I won because I showed up in a Dodgers cap and Lakers jersey alongside one of our cows and she expected better from her offspring.
The Dodgers lost the World Series in 1974, but when they finally beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 and made it to the World Series, Reggie Jackson destroyed them. Five home runs in the World Series, three in the epic Game 6. With the last out, I cried and became one of those who want to beat the hated Yankees. In 1978, the Red Sox were my choice to fulfill that watchword when they had a wide lead in the AL East, up to 14 games, before collapsing. The Yankees caught up with them and passed them in September.
The Red Sox rallied just at the end of that regular season, forcing a game tiebreaker, which was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on the East Coast. Usually the school bus would drop me home at 3:15, so I might miss a few tickets. I asked my mom if I could skip school to watch the game. She agreed, as long as it helped her the first half of the day by stacking firewood.
In the bottom of the second inning, Carl Yastrzemski homered to right field near the Pesky pole. It was evident that Yankees starter Ron Guidry, so dominant that year, just wasn’t the same, maybe he was a little tired, but just a minute or two after Yaz returned to the happy Red Sox bench, I heard. a frantic scream from Ed, my stepfather.
“Buster!” he yelled from the barn, “The cows got out!”
Our cows, about 30, had come through a fence on the northeast corner of our property, heading up a hill and into a neighbor’s pasture. We had a cow, Debbie, who had a pointed tail, after her mother mistook it for the umbilical cord at birth, with an especially thick skin that turned her into a fence-breaking mutant.
There was no debate, no discussion about what was going to happen next: I would have to go find the cows, using a bucket of grain to lure them back to our property, but I didn’t know if this would take me one ticket, five tickets, or the rest of the game. With tears of anger, I ran down a cow trail to the top of the hill, enraged at the injustice of life, cursing Debbie, cursing Debbie’s mother for turning Debbie into a monstrous fence buster, and of course , cursing the Yankees.
However, bringing the cows back took less than an hour, and I started watching the game in the sixth inning, just in time for Boston to add a run and take a 2-0 lead, but on top. By the seventh inning, Bucky Dent was immortalized with the bat he had borrowed from Mickey Rivers. Dent lifted the ball to the left and, looking at Yastrzemski bent his body in disbelief when he saw the ball fall into the net that was placed on top of the ‘Green Monster’ in those days.
You could hear the yells of joy from the Yankees players over the stunned silence of a fan base from six states. And thus was born the famous New England regret, “Bucky F — ing Dent.”
In the eighth inning, Reggie Jackson, yeah, him again, homered. The Red Sox trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, which would be filled with moments that, in those days, seemed to distinguish the two franchises. When Jerry Remy singled to right field with a runner on first, Yankees right fielder Lou Piniella, briefly blinded by the sun, extended his glove and caught the ball on a rebound. Luck? Intelligence? Both? Boston’s Rick Burleson slammed to the stop as he passed second base, the classic conservatism for a Boston team that relied on home runs, and Burleson would be stranded at third when Yaz hit a fly ball to third to end the game.
I remember doing the barn chores in silence that night, dreading what seemed inevitable. Having survived the playoff game with the Red Sox, the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series, and then faced the Dodgers in the World Series, for the second year in a row.
The Dodgers won the first two games of the 1978 World Series – Game 2 ended when Bob Welch retired Reggie Jackson with a fastball – and I doubled my bets with Donnie Russell and the other Yankees fans at Randolph Union High School. But the Yankees would return, with Reggie playing a pivotal role: His hip got caught in the path of a pitch and they should have sentenced him for interference, but the umpires missed that decision. The Yankees won Games 3, 4 and 5. In Game 6, Reggie homered off Welch and I cried bitterly. Reggie and the Yankees made me cry a lot. In 1998, The New York Times He assigned me to cover for the Manhattan Mules. A decade earlier, the avid Dodgers fan in me disappeared when I began to cover professional baseball, a rapid transition that surprised me. After that, I looked for good stories and good things to happen to good people.
In that first spring training at Yankees camp, I saw Reggie standing by a batting cage, walked over and struck up a conversation, probably about young Derek Jeter. All very professional. However, as Reggie and I talked, various thoughts ran through a corner of my brain. I can’t believe I’m talking to Reggie Jackson. I can’t believe how much this man tortured my adolescence. My God, I used to despise him.
Reggie was great, great, talking about the sport that he loved. The sport we love. Even when it breaks our hearts.
“Wow I hate you”
Tim Kurkjian: When Aaron Boone and I were working together on Monday Night Baseball to ESPN many years ago, I did the Ice Bucket Challenge, then I challenged ‘Boonie’. He had 24 hours until a bucket of ice water was poured on his head. We were on tour in Boston. He went to the hotel bar around noon and asked the young bartender if he would be willing to pour a bucket of ice water on his head.
“Sure you do,” said the young bartender. “I’m a Red Sox fan. You’re Aaron Boone. I hate you.”
Howard Bryant: My favorite Red Sox and Yankees memory: Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Willie Randolph is getting ready for the game. He was the Bronx’s starting second baseman in 1978 when they erased a 14-game deficit and beat Massachusetts in a classic playoff game held at Fenway Park. “What do you think?” “This Red Sox team is for real.”
“Yes, they are,” Willie replied. “You know what? They’re even a little better than us … but I’ve been here long enough to know that every time we have to beat them, we do. Today will be no different.”
The Red Sox attack Roger Clemens and take him out of the game early. They are winning 4-0, then 5-2. They have Pedro Martinez on the mound. It’s finally happening, but the Yankees win in 11 innings thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.
Late at night, when the visitors’ truck has left, George Steinbrenner, with dark lens, celebrates and says “we won again!”.
A little earlier, with tears in his eyes, Theo Epstein said “they won. Good for them. Next year we have to win.” The reaction of all of us who were there was the same: yes, sure.
Heartbreak and jubilation
Joon Lee: I grew up in Boston in the 2000s and of course I remember the mixture of sadness and emptiness left by Aaron Boone’s home run in 2003, but I also couldn’t wait to see what happened the following year with the Red Sox. They beat the Yankees in 2004 and I watched their World Series triumph on a small television in the family kitchen. On the day of the parade, classes were canceled across the city so we could watch the team celebrate on traditional Boston boats.
Without the heartbreak that I suffered in 2003 and then July 2004, I am sure that today I would not be sitting at my computer writing these words for the coverage of the Wild Card Game of 2021 between these two teams that lit the spark of my passion for sports.
The Police Horse
Matt Marrone: I was born in the Bronx, so being a Yankees fan was in my blood, but I wasn’t your typical person for many things: I used to wear a Jim Rice glove in Little League, loved to go to Fenway Park, and was a huge fan. by Wade Boggs. When ‘Chicken Man’ left Boston to sign with the Yankees as a free agent, he was ecstatic. Not only had my favorite team just added a Red Sox star – a great tradition that started with you know who – but we were talking about a player that I had followed despite being on the opposing team.
Four years later, I was with my dad in old Yankee Stadium, screaming at the top of my lungs. I was a freshman in college and had just seen my team win the World Series live for the first time. On top of that, Wade Boggs grabbed a police horse to ride around the stadium! The stadium was shaking. Finally, Boggs got off his horse, stood at the plate and waved at the fans with his Yankees cap. He was very excited about the future Hall of Fame but even more excited about the fact that he was no longer in Boston.