bradygirl_12 (bradygirl_12) wrote,

RIP--Dick Williams (1929-2011)

Baseball Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams passed away today at the age of 82. Even though he won his World Series championships with the Oakland Athletics in the '70s, he'll be best remembered here for managing the Impossible Dream Team of 1967, the Boston Red Sox. The franchise had been practically in the division cellar for years, and Dick Williams brought a new culture to the Red Sox clubhouse. Tough and dynamic, he molded a mostly young team to the most incredible season the Red Sox had seen since 1946, when they had last won the pennant and Ted Williams was hitting the ball.

The 1967 Red Sox electrified New England and revitalized baseball. Carl Yastrzemski was Mr. Clutch all season long, coming up with big hit after big hit when it was needed most. He was the last one to win a Triple Crown for hitting. Transistor radios on the beach and car radios were always tuned into the Red Sox games, Ken Coleman the voice of the team. You could pass by houses and stores and hear the game over the airwaves. Narragansett beer was the big sponsor. :)

Jim Lonborg had a year worthy of the Cy Young Award (he won it), and so many players contributed. Tiny Fenway Park was abuzz! Sadly, native son Tony Conigliaro was beaned that year (helmets were not in use back then) and was out the rest of the season. He was such a talented young player, on pace to hit a record number of home runs at a very young age. He made a comeback and did well for awhile, but was never really the same after that.

The race for the American League pennant went down to the very last day in a four-team race. The memorable call was made by Ken Coleman and fans swarmed onto the field at Fenway to celebrate and congratulate the players (allowed in those days). Even though the Sox lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals (whom they would defeat in 2004, finally winning a World Series since 1918), the season guaranteed that the Sox would be a hot ticket from then on, a record (at the time) million people coming in through the turnstiles at Fenway. A record about the season was pressed and sold millions of copies, a novelty at the time.

There's nothing quite like it when a sports team captures a region's imagination, and the Summer of '67 was not only the Summer of Love, but the Summer of the Impossible Dream. :)
Tags: boston red sox, fenway park, summer
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