The 1975 World Series was aniously anticipated as a battle between two of baseball's greatest teams. The Boston Red Sox featured a unique mixture of true greatness and quirky individualism. Carl Yastrzemski, Calton Fisk, Freddy Lynn, and Jim Rice. Quirky individualism manifested in Bill “Spaceman" Lee. And, “El Tiante" Luis Tiant showed signs of both attributes.
Their National League rivals were the Cincinnati Reds. This team's nickname, “The Big Red Machine" told you all you needed to know. Manager Sparky Anderson penciled in a lineup day in and day out that read like a roll call at Cooperstown. Pete Rose batting with Joe Morgan on deck and Johnny Bench in the whole. Tony Perez followed and was the best RBI man in baseball. With two of baseball's great teams the ‘75 World Series promised to be a good one.
"El Tiante" shut out the Big Red Machine in Game 1. The wily veteran used all his skills and gyrations to hold Cincinnati to just five hits in a complete game victory over Don Gullett. The Reds scratched out a 3-2 victory over Boston and “Spaceman" Lee in Game 2. Lee had the Reds beat until he was lifted in the ninth. Reliever Dick Drago gave up two runs and the Series was even and headed to Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium.
Cincinnati won Game 3 in extra innings. This was the game best remembered for Ed Ambrister's sacrifice bunt and subsequent collision with Carlton Fisk. The Red Sox felt Umpire larry Barnett should have called interference. But there was no such call and the sacrifice stood. The Red Sox got some measure of revenge in Game 4. The ageless Luis Tiant again spun his magic in tossing a 163 pitch complete game 5-4 victory over the Reds. Tony Perez slugged two home runs to lead Cincinnati to a 6-2 Game 5 win.
The series had been a good one up to this point but baseball fans could not possibly imagine what treats were in store for them. But they had ample time to let their imaginations run wild. Game 6 was postponed because of rain three times.
Finally on October 21st, Fenway Park had dried out enough to play host to one of the best baseball games ever. The hometown Red Sox were staked to an early 3 run lead on a home run by the phenomenal Freddy Lynn. Lynn had taken the baseball world by storm winning both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. Tiant was on the mound again for Boston. This night the Big Red Machine figured him out. He left the game in the eighth behind 6 to 3.
All looked lost for Boston. Then there was a glimmer of hope as Boston got two men on base in the 8th. With two out and their backs to the wall, Boston manager Darrell Johnson sent super sub Bernie Carbo to the plate. In true Cinderella style, Carbo homered over the centerfield wall to tie the game.
The tension did not let up as first one team then the other threatened to win the game. The Red Sox loaded the bases but the Reds got out of it on a play at the plate. Then in the eleventh inning, the Red's Joe Morgan hit a shot that was headed to the cheap seats. Boston rightfielder Dwight Eveans raced over and caught the ball at the last possible moment. Then he wheeled and doubled off the runner at first to thwart the Cincinnati rally.
Baseball fans everywhere had been held spellbound by the non-stop drama of this game. What could possibly happen to top this, they asked. They would get their answer soon. Catcher Carlton Fisk led off the bottom of the twelfth. He got hold of the second pitch. It was far enough but would it stay fair? The high fly ball slowly arched down the line. NBC kept it's cameras on Fisk who was jumping up and down trying to will the ball fair. Finally, the ball hit the foul pole and Boston dramatically won this classic game.
But the win only evened the World Series. Game 7 would decided the championship. Boston again jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But the Reds managed to scratch back and the game was tied in the ninth. It was a bloop single by Joe Morgan that made Cincinnati World Champions. Game 7 had been a good one but it's Game 6 that will live in the memories of baseball fans forever. Perhaps Sparky Anderson said it best when he said of his Reds, “We are the best team in baseball; but not by much. "
Chip Westley is the host of Home Run Poker, http://www.homerunpoker.blogspot.com , a place for baseball fans that like to play poker.