BOSTON – Generations of New Englanders are preparing. Practically no one alive can remember seeing such an event unfold: The Boston Red Sox could win a World Series title on the celebrated green grass at Fenway Park.
Ted Williams never did it. Not Carl Yastrzemski. Not Carlton Fisk. Not even Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling, who ended The Curse nearly a decade ago but did it on the road.
When the Red Sox last won a World Series at home, Babe Ruth, Carl Mays and Harry Hooper were the stars in September 1918, a season cut short by World War I. Ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2, the Red Sox have two chances to reward their faithful.
“It would be awesome,” said John Lackey, who starts Game 6 tonight against Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha.
Fenway was just a kid the last time the Red Sox won a title at home, a modern 6-year-old ballpark. A crowd of 15,238 watched the Red Sox defeat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 to win the Series in six games.
“It was a ball game that nobody who was present will forget. It left too many lasting impressions,” Edward F. Martin wrote the following day in the Boston Globe.
That was so long ago that Woodrow Wilson was president of the U.S., television hadn’t been invented and the designated hitter didn’t exist. There were 16 major league teams – none west of St. Louis – all games were played in the daytime and the NFL was 23 months from formation.
Now, Fenway Park is a centurion, the oldest home in the majors and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The last time a World Series Game 6 was played in Boston was in 1975, the night Fisk sent Pat Darcy’s second pitch of the 12th inning high down the left-field line and waved his arms three times, urging the ball fair, before it clanked off the yellow foul pole atop the Green Monster.
“I was just wishing and hoping,” Fisk said in 2005. “Maybe by doing it, you know, you ask something of somebody with a higher power. I like to think that if I didn’t wave, it would have gone foul.”
Boston needed that 7-6 win to force a seventh game against Cincinnati, and the Red Sox went on to lose the following night.
Now, they are one win from setting off a Boston Glee Party.
“With no disrespect to history or to Carlton, you know, it’s an iconic video and a highlight that is shown repeatedly, and one of the more memorable swings that probably has taken place in this ballpark,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday, “but hopefully there’s somebody tomorrow night that can wave their arms just the same.”
Boston swept the Series in 2004 and ’07, starting at home and winning titles at St. Louis and Colorado. Given the length of time since the last championship clincher at Fenway, there is a seemingly insatiable demand for the just over 38,000 tickets.
As of Tuesday evening, the cheapest of 1,600 or so ducats for sale on Stubhub.com was for standing room on the right-field roof deck for $983.75. A dugout box seat is $10,894.20.
“I don’t know what happened in 1918, but tomorrow we’re going to try and make it happen, make people proud and happy in the city of Boston and New England,” David Ortiz said. “I guarantee it’s going to be wild.”
Ortiz’s performance in the World Series has been better than Ruthian. He’s batting .733 (11 for 15) with two homers, six RBIs, four walks and a sacrifice fly, and has one-third of Boston’s hits.
“That’s why we call him ‘Cooperstown,’ ” Game 5 star David Ross said, “because he does Hall of Fame stuff.”
Fast facts: Forty-one of 62 previous teams with 3-2 World Series leads won the title, including 24 in Game 6. … Since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates won Games 6 and 7 in Baltimore, six straight teams have failed to overcome 3-2 deficits on the road.