It Was Forty Years Ago Today

Guest author and faithful RLRS reader Gary Geiger Counter takes us back to 1973 and gives us a look at a pivotal moment in the history of the Red Sox’ relations with a certain division rival.

Concert - Ad, Newport,  Ray Charles, Hartford Courant 0617 - 19730727The Watergate hearings were going on that summer. Led Zeppelin was touring to support their Houses of the Holy album. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was released earlier that year.

The last weekend of July had a Sixties feel to it. Summer Jam was at Watkins Glen. Six-hundred thousand people went to the upstate New York racetrack to see the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and The Band perform. The audience was so big that it made the Guinness Book of World Records. It wasn’t the only concert that weekend. The Red Sox were in Cleveland that weekend and the Newport Jazz Festival was at Fenway. Newport couldn’t handle it any more.

Starting in 1969, the festival organizers began to invite rock and soul acts along with the jazz musicians. It was the age of fusion. Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull played there. So did James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone. Led Zep was supposed to play but the promoters cancelled their appearance, fearing a riot. Two years later, the crowds rushed the stage while Dionne Warwick sang “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” The next year they moved the festival to New York, and in ’73 it migrated to Fenway. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles were among the acts. It would be the last concert there for thirty years. There was pandemonium on the field, as Ned Martin might say.  Fans rushed the stage at second base.

And they had a better view than Jerry Meals.

And they had a better view than Jerry Meals. (Ray Charles Video Museum)

Some of that spirit lingered at Fenway into the next week. The Red Sox returned home to play the Yankees. Both teams were doing well. The Yanks had come back from the depths of the CBS era and the Red Sox had been competitive since 1967, almost winning the AL East in ’72. The Yankees were in first place and the Red Sox weren’t doing too bad for themselves either. The series ended with a day game on Wednesday, August 1st.  Going into the ninth inning, the score was tied 2-2. Thurman Munson was at third with one out when Ralph Houk put on the suicide squeeze play. 

Stick Michael was at the plate and he missed John Curtis’s pitch. Munson was out by a mile, but he crashed into Carlton Fisk and they started to brawl. As far as I can tell, there was no TV coverage of the game but Fisk’s fury was captured in a photograph.

"You hurt my feelings, Munson! Let's find a constructive way to work out our differences without resorting to violence!"

“You hurt my feelings, Munson! Let’s find a constructive way to work out our differences without resorting to violence!” (fenwaypark100.org)

The Red Sox were able to win the game when Mario Guerrero singled off of Sparky Lyle in the bottom of the frame. Bob Montgomery scored; small revenge for the trade that sent Lyle to New York for Danny Cater. The trade was so lop-sided that Guerrero was thrown in afterwards.

I don’t remember this fight. I did watch the one three years later when Graig Nettles separated Bill Lee from his shoulder. But some folks, Peter Gammons for one, say that this was when the Boston-New York rivalry was rekindled after lying dormant since the late Forties before the Red Sox swooned into mediocrity and worse.

7 thoughts on “It Was Forty Years Ago Today

  1. Jose

    One of the things that strikes me about the 70s rivalry was the genuine dislike the clubs had for each other. As intense as the 1998-2007 period was between the clubs there wasn’t the genuine hatred between the teams. Nomar and Jeter got along fine and with few exceptions I think that was true throughout the two clubs. Those 70s teams though, they really did not like each other.

  2. MCoA

    There has been real animosity in some modern rivalries–the Cards and Reds in recent years come to mind–but it does seem much more rare in the modern game. I’d guess that’s 50% a function of unionization, 25% free agency, 25% other cultural whatnot.

    Fun stuff, GGC. Thanks.

  3. Matt Post author

    @Jose:

    As intense as the 1998-2007 period was between the clubs there wasn’t the genuine hatred between the teams. Nomar and Jeter got along fine and with few exceptions I think that was true throughout the two clubs.

    Pedro being the first exception who comes to mind. I don’t think he and Posada or Karim Garcia had any plans to hug it out.

    For the Red Sox, the only real team-wide animosity from the ’90s and ’00s was the (Devil) Rays, right? Pedro and Ice Williams. The continual HBP wars with Daubach. Coco and Shields. There was some bad blood there.

  4. Gary Geiger Counter

    Yes, the D-Rays and Sox did not get along. It is one reason they are my second most hated team in the division.

    I think some of the thawing out of interteam rivalries can be placed on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson. Chris Jaffe once said that he ignored the rules and mores regarding player fraternization. I forget his source, but it might of been The Umpire Strikes Back.

  5. Gary Geiger Counter

    BTW, that Gary Meals caption cracked me up. I saw Ray Charles at Fenway the one time I tried to go to opening day. It was ’03 and the game got rained out. My brother and I were sitting on the first base side. They held the ceremonies, even though the game wasn’t played. I had an eerie feeling that Oriole first base coah Rick Dempsey was staring at us the whole time. I think we may have been asking him to do his Babe Ruth impression on the tarp.

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