At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Peter Gammons: Beyond the Sixth Game. Into the future without Yaz.

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 6, 2008

 

 

 

Gammons book a must-read

Gammons book a must-read

  

Beyond the Sixth Game.  What’s Happened to Baseball Since The Greatest Game in World Series History. By Peter Gammons.  Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

Do you remember when you first realized that the Size-XXL Dominican Gentleman with the big smile was a Red Sox ?

The Red Sox team that already had Manny, Nomar, ‘Tek, Pedro, Millar, Mueller, Lowe & Foulke. ?

Felt pretty good, didn’t it, Red Sox Fans ?

For the Fenway Faithful, things become aligned in a special way every decade or two.

Sox fans of a certain vintage got a similar high 33 years ago after looking in the sports section and seeing TWO Red Sox players, unknown, right smack in Baseball’s Top 10 Al Hitter list !  Jeesus ! What’s going on here, we thought.

It came to pass that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were young blue chippers sent by the Baseball Gods and Dick O’Connell, to join Yaz, Rico, Spaceman, and the best Red Sox pitcher ever – Luis Tiant.

Euphoria set in.   The Sox were LOADED and could win several pennants !

If you can relate, or if you just want to dig a little into an intriguing baseball book, Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game is for you.  Gammons has captured the Red Sox of 1975 to 1983, a team history backed up to the late Sixties for perspective.

Gammons peppered this book with golden nuggets.

Here are a few of my favorites –

Rick “Tall Boy” Jones’ claim to fame came in high school, when he was suspended with 3 members of the Lynard Skynard band, caught by gym teacher Leonard Skinner.

Carlton Fisk, a well rounded New England boy who could fight; on 8-1-73, he pinned Gene Michael to the ground with his left hand while he pounded Munson with his right.

Dennis Eckersley, a cocky & talented 23-year-old, who had his own language, offering batters ‘cheese for their kitchen, and a yakker for their kudo.”

George Scott, rugged 1st sacker, who, when asked about what he thought about Biafra, said, “I never faced the muddafuka, but by the 3rd time I do face him, I’ll hit a tater.”.

The Rooster, Rick Burleson, commenting on the Sox collapse of 1978, “….the abuse we must be prepared to take for the entire winter, we richly deserve.”.

Luis Tiant, a pitcher for the ages, on the Sox brilliant run to force the 1-game playoff of ’78, “If we lose today, it will be over my dead body. …bleep those guys who want to throw in the towel.”.

There are funny & touching details on Yaz through the various stages of his career, and much on how he handled his farewell weekend.  For anyone who was at Fenway on Oct. 1 or 2, 1983, this book is meant for you to read.

Gammons measures the Sox over 9 seasons.  The Sox rose.   They promised a dynasty.  They failed to adjust to changing times.  They won a pennant, nearly won one more, then slid into mediocrity & their first losing record in 17 years.  They enjoyed an historic influx of young talent and then released, traded away and otherwise squandered the talent, as the front office lost their way in an ownership battle.

Among the leading factors in the decline was Jean Yawkey.  Why would the aging doyen prefer to sell the Sox to two jokers with $400,000 on hand rather than to men with $14 Million in cash-money ?

The Yawkeys take the brunt of the criticism for mismanaging the Sox.

In 1965, Tom Yawkey replace old drinking pal Pinky Higgins with Dick O’Connell as G.M.  Dick O’Connell designed the regeneration of the Sox from ’67 to ’75.

And when Jean Yawkey and the Sullivan/LeRoux team fired O’Connell in 1977, a costly series of stupid decisions ensued, resulting in the departure of Fisk, Lynn, Lee, Carbo, and Tiant.

  

Dick O'Connell earned respect & grattitude.

Dick O

 The Sox pushed away pitching, said goodbye to their bench strength, and hoped that the salary spiral caused by free agency would correct itself.  Meanwhile, they hung back, stayed out of the bidding, and waited for the market to cool down.

They led us into the Valley of Mediocrity.

But where there is pain, there is also JOY.  You can’t go wrong reading BEYOND THE SIXTH GAME.

 

Younger fans will better understand the burden endured by more experienced ones.  Older fans will smile with the memory of quirky talents, and the long dark road that ultimately led home.

 

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Gammons book a must read

Gammons book a must read

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4 Responses to “Peter Gammons: Beyond the Sixth Game. Into the future without Yaz.”

  1. Justy Jenkins said

    I so glad to have this chance to post a comment on such a fantastic player. I was just on the fantasy baseball page and did not have a chance to put my name on the site after suggesting Carl and noticing all the 1st that came up with his name, not surprising to me. I have been going through a hudge stack of baseball cards and found the amazing numbers assossiated with this man. It is a pleasure to have this oppertunity. Thank you so much!

    Sincerely,

    Justy Jenkins

  2. I couldn’t agree more with you, Justy. Some say Yaz was a compiler who played a long time and had but one really big year. That’s just not so. Yaz has 3 batting titles, 7 gold gloves, 18 All Star Games, 1 MVP, 13 years receiving MVP votes, and the heart of New England ticked into his back pocket.

  3. John Finn said

    I opened the gate to the players parking lot back in 1977-78. I never met a nicer player than Yaz. He was a man of integrity who almost never argued calls. If he did disagree with the umpire you knew the umpire was wrong. Nobody in baseball history ever played left field as good as Yaz. Yaz played the hardest left field in baseball history, yet he shined like a star in owning that wall. For those who do not think Yaz was a star, compare his stats with Stan Musials.

  4. Dave MacDougal said

    He inspired confidence in his team mates and total respect from the teams he played against. He was rediculously clutch all year in 1967 and was motivated to do so for his love of Tom Yawkey. They remember he was the guy who ended the Bucky Dent game in 1978 with a pop up to Nettles at third. They forget he homered and singled prior to that at bat! He was the team aptain prior to 1967 but Williams asked him to step down as they wanted to try a different mind set. Yaz was unselfishly all for it and the rest is history.

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