Two seasons after their 1901 inception, the Boston Red Stockings found themselves in the first modern World Series and on course to win four more championships by 1918. Some of the early legends to play on the team included Denton True “Cy” Young, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood. The now famous Fenway Park opened up in 1912 and is the home of the Red Sox to this day.
The 1918 World Series was played entirely in September, (the first and last time), as a result of World War I and featured the Boston Red Sox against the Chicago Cubs and marked the very first time that the “Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a MLB game. The Sox would win the series to win their 4th championship in seven years. The following season, the Sox would sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 (equivalent to 1.37 million today) Ruth would go on to play over 2,000 games for the Yankees and the whole affair became known as “The Curse of the Bambino”
Tom Yawkey bought out the team in 1933 and as the sole owner, held the club for 44 seasons. He renovated Fenway Park and built up franchise, but it would not be until 1946 that the payoff would start to show. After finishing 17.5 games behind in 1945, the ’46 squad posted a 104-50 record and marched into the playoffs and faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The series would go a full seven games an although superstar Ted Williams was playing hurt, he refused to use it as an excuse as the Cards went on to win games seven after the “Mad Dash” by Enos Slaughter in the 8th inning secured the Cardinals 6th championship. The team would compete for the AL Championship over the next four seasons but would come up just short each season.
The franchise finished the 1950 season 34 games above .500 and steadily declined as the decade went on with the low point being the 1954 season where they finished a full 42 games below .500. The steady climb back up the MLB ladder was finally completed in the 1967 season which was commonly referred to as the season of the “Impossible Dream.” That season, the team would finish 22 games above .500, 92-70 when everyone who had anything to do with baseball still considered them the doormats of the majors. So it was with great surprise when the Sox found themselves in a 4-way fight to the finish with Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit. The Sox would finish the season in first place, winning their first AL pennant in 21-seasons. In the World Series, the Sox again faced the St. Louis Cardinals with the upstart Sox taking the Cardinals to seven games. The Cards would win game-7 with a 7-2 victory and secured their 8th World Series.
Remaining competitive the remainder of the decade, the Sox never finished above 2nd place in their division and it would not be until the 1975 season that the Sox would again win the American League championship, finishing the season with a 95-65 record. In the playoffs, they would sweep the Oakland Athletics to win their first ALCS since the 1967 season. In the World Series, the Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds who used the moniker “The Big Red Machine.” The Reds would get the jump on the Sox and extended a 3 games to 2 lead going into game six. Game six, considered by many baseball pundits as one of the greatest games in postseason history, was a make or break game for the Sox. Down 6-3 at the bottom of the eighth inning, the Red Sox Bernie Carbo hit a three run home run to tie the game. It would take until the 11th inning to finish off the Reds as Carlton Fisk hit a homerun to win the game 7-6. The Reds would finally dispose of the Red Sox in game 7 with a 4-3 win as Tony Perez slammed a ball over the Green Monster (and even across the street) in the 9th inning.
The next time the Red Sox would win the American League championship would be nearly a decade later, in 1986, when they would battle the California Angels for the title. Both teams had fantastic season, the Sox finishing with a 96-66 record and the Angels with a 92-70 record. So it was with little surprise that the series would last a full seven games but the Sox would come out the eventual winners and would go on to face the New York Mets in the World Series. This series would also go seven games and in Game-7, the Sox would lead 3-0 when the team suddenly collapsed and fell to the Mets which fed into the long held myth of “Curse of the Bambino.” The Sox would again meet the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 ALCS but this time they were swept out of the playoffs. Two seasons later (1990), they would meet the Athletics again in the ALCS and the outcome was the same; the A’s swept them out of the playoffs.
The Curse of the Bambino would finally end at four seasons into the new millennium as the Sox, led by ace pitcher Curt Schilling, closed the 2004 season with a 98-64 record. The Sox would sweep the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS but would lose Schilling to a torn ankle tendon in game 1. They went on to face the New York Yankees in the ALCS and immediately dropped the first three games. With the Yankees up 3 games to none, the Sox would make a series out of it and would win games as Curt Schilling came back out on the mound after receiving three sutures to stabilize the tendon. The sutures would bleed through turning Schilling’s sock red but Schilling would allow only one run in 7 innings to secure the game, sending the series to a final game 7. The Red Sox came out in game 7 and took it to the Yankees, defeating the Bronx Bombers 10-3 and moving on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. With the “Curse of the Bambino” looming over them, the Red Sox came out and swept the Cardinals for their first World Series victory in 86 years and finally relieving themselves of the “Curse of the Bambino.”
Three seasons later, the Red Sox again found themselves in the Fall Classic as they swept the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS and went on to face the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. While the Sox won game one, they would lose three straight and came upon game 5 facing elimination. Josh Beckett took over the series in game 5 allowing only 1 run while striking out 11 but it was the Red Sox’s outscoring the Angles 30-5 in the final three games. The Sox went on to face the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. The Red Sox would go on to sweep the Rockies in four games to win their second title in four years. The following season, the team repeated as ALDS Champions but could not beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS even after posting the biggest single game comeback in ALCS history. The Rays took the series in seven games.
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