Game Six of the 1975 World Series is generally regarded as one of the handful of greatest baseball games ever played, a wild affair that is capped off by Carlton Fisk’s iconic “wave it fair” walk-off home run. The stories and images of this game are legendary. It is a game so significant in Red Sox history that the great Peter Gammons wrote a book called “Beyond The Sixth Game” detailing the Sox organization’s decent into mediocrity following this epic showdown when they *should* have been turning into a dynasty. I was three years old at the time though, and as a big as a baseball fan as I became, and as familiar as I am with the tropes and highlights of this game, I have never actually seen it.
Enter the MLB Classics section on YouTube, where for a brief period a few years back Major League Baseball saw fit to upload a bunch of famous games, mostly World Series clinching games and All-Star affairs (plus a boatload of random games involving modern Japanese players like Ichiro and Daisuke for some reason). That’s right, the full TV broadcast as it originally aired, stripped of commercials. Just pure, unadulterated baseball. The stuff dreams are made of.
Naturally I had to get around to watching this masterpiece at some point, so I figured I would keep a running diary of the action (Bill Simmons style) and my thoughts on it for posterity sake. Join me as we check out just how well this puppy holds up 41 years after the fact.
~ We open up with a shot of Luis Tiant’s dad, Luis Tiant Sr., over from Cuba just to watch his kid pitch. I’ve met Luis Tiant and I have his autograph multiple times over and yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full Tiant performance, so this is gonna be a joy for me to take in. I hope it ends well.
~ Dick Stockton, Joe Garagiola, and Tony Kubek are the three-man commentary team for the night. Talk about three voices of my childhood. Just hearing Joe and Tony take me back to the early 80’s and the MLB Game Of The Week. Bring on the nostalgia, bitches!
~ As Luis completes his warm-ups Kubek notes the Reds haven’t been that impressed with Tiant’s fastball so far. Meanwhile we’re treated to this graphic:
Dear Lord, that’s ridiculous. 2 runs in 45 innings?! But by all means, Cincy, continue to be unimpressed.
~ Pete Rose leads off for the Big Red Machine and I’d forgotten how goofy his squatty little batting stance was. He lines the second pitch to Yaz in left who runs in making an awkward sliding catch. I love Yaz, but he was one of the least graceful ballplayers you’ll ever see. Everything looked like a challenge to him. Stockton, the Sox TV play-by-play guy during the year, takes the opportunity to get in a dig about Astroturf (which the Reds employed in their stadium).
~ Great shot from inside the left field wall just behind Yaz that really gives you a look at what he sees.
~ Ken Griffey (Sr.), who looks even skinnier than his kid did, draws a walk.
~ Stockton mentions that Tiant has already pitched two complete game wins in the series so far. There’s something you’re not likely to hear these days. Kubek then relays a story about how Joe Morgan, who apparently doesn’t like it when baserunners steal bases while he’s at bat, gave Sparky Anderson “permission” to have guys do it in the World Series, proving that Joe was a dick long before he became a color commentator.
~ Man, Carlton Fisk is a large man. I’d forgotten how funny he looked with his shrunken catcher’s gear. He looks like he’s wearing some little leaguer’s chest protector. Good times.
~ Another nice shot from left field, this time showing a throw over to first base as Tiant attempts to keep Griffey close. Kubek drops “Cecil Cooper…” as if he’s about to expound on the Sox first baseman, but fails to add anything else, leading to an awkward silence. Alrightythen.
~ Morgan and his annoying arm twitch pops up to Fisk in foul ground. Garagiola, the former catcher, trips all over himself to praise Fisk’s handling of a routine play. Gotta stick together, I guess.
~ Tiant gets Johnny Bench to wave at a pitch way outside to end the top of the first. Even though their motions aren’t really the same, I can see where some of the Tiant/Pedro Martinez comparisons come from. They have a similar aura when pitching. It’s not hard to see.
~ Back from the break and the announcers discuss ump Larry Barnett getting booed during introductions thanks to his questionable call (Ed Armbrister anyone?) when the series was back in Cincinnati. Apparently Barnett is under FBI protection thanks to death threats made against him and his family. Stay classy, 1970’s Red Sox fans.
~ Cecil Cooper (leading off?!) flies out to Cesar Geronimo, one of the greatest names in baseball history.
~ Sox second baseman Denny Doyle bats second. He’s apparently the only guy from either team with a hit in each game of the series, establishing the tradition of plucky, undersized second basemen coming up big in the postseason. Marty Barrett and Mark Lemke appreciate your efforts, Denny. Of course he grounds out to first.
~ Yaz draws a 3-0 count and Joe G. drops “Darrell Johnson turns him loose 3-0”. Fastball down the middle and Yaz was taking all the way. Nice call, Joe. Yaz then fires the next pitch into right for a single.
~ Two of the greatest catchers of all-time in that shot right there, folks.
~ Fisk drills a single to left and the Sox have something cooking with two-out. I honestly have no idea how this game goes, outside of the big moments, so I’m genuinely excited by the prospect of a first-inning rally.
~ Fred Lynn, mere seconds after Kubek regales us with a tale of Lynn using the added days off (the game had been pushed back twice due to heavy rain in Boton) to take extra BP in an effort to break a slump, deposits a homer over the Sox bullpen. 3-0 RED SOX! That’s it, baby! This is our year!
~ Seriously though, Lynn has a gorgeous swing. Which is weird, because his batting stance is kind of hunched over and awkward. But once he unfurls… gorgeous.
~ Grizzled vet Rico Petrocelli sends Geronimo to the warning track to haul in his inning ender. You know, if there’s one thing that’s really missing from the modern era of baseball it’s scrappy Italian guys. Back in the 50’s and 60’s the league was full of them. Once the game started going more international they got weeded out. Pity. Baseball could really use a new Phil Rizzuto.
~ Whattya think, Sox fans? Think this score holds up?
~ I miss Sherm Feller. That is all.
~ Tiant just snapped off a ridiculously slow looping curveball. Baseball is the best.
~ Classic Tiant wind-up leads to him K’ing Tony Perez on a nasty pitch. Poor Tony was just *lunging* at a ball way outside. When you make a future Hall Of Famer look that foolish, you know you got the goods.
~ George Foster, who would hit 52 HOME RUNS two years later, is perhaps the skinniest baseball player I’ve ever seen. How did he ever generate power with that frame?
~ The Fenway Faithfull with a loud “LU-IS!” chant. Meanwhile, Dave Concepcion, the *second* skinniest baseball player I’ve ever seen, flies to center to end the inning.
~ Bottom of the second begins with a barely recognizable Dwight Evans striking out on a wicked curve from Cincy starter Joe Nolan. Seriously, Dewey, where’s the moustache? The scrunched up batting stance?
~ Who the hell is this imposter?!
~ Rick Burleson out on a routine “first base unassisted” grounder, but man does he ever hustle up the line. You’d think the Sox season was on the line or something.
~ No DH means we get to watch Luis Tiant flail awkwardly at a pitch while Kubek tries to put over his hitting prowess. I’ll have to take your word for it, Tony. Called third strike and the Sox go 1-2-3 in the second.
~ Cesar Geronimo is up and holy smokes do the Reds even feed their players? Throw these guys a sandwich or something. Some drunk fan in the background shouts “GERONIMOOOOO”, because the 70’s.
~ Terry Crowley, who was on deck to pinch-hit for the pitcher, gets called back and replaced by Darrel Chaney. Gotta love the message that Sparky Anderson is sending to Chaney here. “Geronimo didn’t get on base? Ah screw it. CROWLEY! Get back here. Let’s not waste your bat with nobody on base. Chaney, get up there and take some hacks, you bum!”.
~ Chaney flies out to deep left. Sparky was right.
~ Creepy inset photo of Luis Tiant Sr. next to his son on the mound makes it look like the elder is deceased. Or maybe that’s just me.
~ Pete Rose gets the Reds’ first hit by staying back on a looping curve. Yeah, he’s a pariah now, but the dude could rake.
~ Griffey grounds out as we get another cool camera angle of the play from left field. Modern broadcasts are just so stale when it comes to the live action. Sure they have a gazillion replay angles and super slow-mos, but the actual as-it-happens shots are the same every time. Kinda cool that a show from 1975 can feel “fresh”.
~ Conversely we get this weird four angle shot of new Reds pitcher Fred Norman warming up. That was certainly different.
~ After Cooper flies out, plucky second baseman Denny Doyle lines a double into the right field corner. I learn he was apparently a mid-season pick-up, which also makes him the Spike Owen/Orlando Cabrera of this particular Sox team. Dude fulfills a lot of clichés for such a little guy.
~ President Gerald Ford’s son Michael is in the house tonight! This game is lacking in quality celebrities if that’s the best they got.
~ Yaz pops out so the Reds go ahead and walk Fisk intentionally to get to Lynn. I had no idea that slavish devotion to lefty-vs-lefty match-ups was prevalent that far back. I thought that was a Tony LaRussa invention from the late 80’s. #TheMoreYouKnow
~ Apparently Fred Lynn is the first rookie to homer in the World Series since Reggie Smith in 1967. Eight years feels like a long drought for such a thing.
~ Fred Lynn’s sideburns are epic.
~ Lynn walks to load the bases and here comes Sparky for another pitching change and HOLY SHIT THERE’S THE BULLPEN CART! God bless the 70’s, you guys!
~ Try to imagine Mariano Rivera entering to “Enter Sandman” while riding in one of those babies. The mystique would be lost, people, believe you me.
~ Petrocelli fans weakly at a pitch to end the inning as the Sox leave the bases loaded. That could come back to hurt ’em. Just sayin’.
~ “Is it too early yet to say the game is never over until the last out with the wind blowing out at Fenway?” Tony Kubek, ladies and gentlemen, the man who can predict the future.
~ Joe Morgan grounds out. Good.
~ Tiant just OWNS Johnny Bench to strike him out for the second time tonight. Bench was fooled so badly on the last pitch that he had one foot already heading for the dugout as the ball was hitting Fisk’s mitt. Tiant is masterful right now.
~ Shot of Celtics great John Havlicek in the stands raises the celebrity sighting grade significantly. As does his 70’s white guy afro.
~ Perez lines one off of Doyle’s glove at second for a single to right. Foster then yanks one into the shortstop hole that Burleson gets to but then sails the throw to second off of Doyle’s glove to put the runners on the corners. At this point I feel there should be a band named Doyle’s Glove. Anyway, the error goes to Burleson but on the replays the announcers and I all agree that Doyle was just as much at fault as he overran the base and wasn’t in great position. The weird thing about watching this game in the future is that I know at some point the Sox blow this lead so waiting for the wheels to fall off is kind of painful. As a lifelong Sox fan I am used to that feeling, but in this instance it’s not just a vague feeling of something *might* go wrong, but rather the knowledge that something *does* go wrong, I just don’t know how. It sucks either way.
~ The announcers go silent for a stretch during Dave Concepcion’s at-bat so we’re treated to the various taunts of the drunken locals. Always a pleasure, boys. Concepcion pops out to first.
~ Dewey leads off the bottom of the 4th and they mention that he’s only 23 and yet the elder statesman of the Sox outfield trio of Rice-Lynn-Evans, which is INSANE! I thought the Sox current trio of Bentintendi-Bradley-Betts was outrageously young but Bradley is like 26 or something. How the hell did that ’75 trio not become the greatest outfield of all time? Oh right, injuries and incompetence. Thanks, Red Sox!
~ Ground rule double for Evans into the right field stands brings up Burleson, who walks on four pitches. The Rooster is a dead ringer for Gerald McRaney during his Simon & Simon days. Just so you know.
~ Tiant, in an obvious sacrifice bunt situation, swats at the ball with one of the worst looking bunt attempts you’ll ever see. The ball pops up and OVER Perez’ head as he was charging from first although he recovers in time to get Luis out. Tiant ends up getting the job done as the runners move up, but man was that ever an ugly bunt. Somewhere Jerry Remy is crying.
~ Cooper hits a slow roller to first and the runners have to hold. That leaves things up to pesky post-season hero Denny Doyle.
~ Doyle grounds out meekly to second. Mark Bellhorn is unimpressed with Doyle’s grittiness right now.
~ After a Geronimo line-out to right Sparky Anderson repeats the on-deck-and-out routine with Crowley, this time replacing him with Ed Armbrister, who naturally draws some quality boos. Let’s see if Sparky’s reverse encouragement works for Armbrister.
~ Armbrister walks. Sparky is a genius.
~ Meanwhile, the drunks have moved closer to the crowd mikes. Joy.
~ Hell of an at-bat by Rose ends with him lining a single into center sending Armbrister to third. Again, douche as a human being, but a fantastic ballplayer.
~ First “iconic” moment of this game as Senior Griffey launches a ball to deep center and hustling Freddy Lynn impales himself on the (unpadded) centerfield wall trying to catch it. Both runners score and suddenly we have ourselves a ballgame. Lynn of course, remains slumped over in center in one of the more troubling images in Sox history:
~ Griffey winds up with a triple as Fenway goes dead silent. Lynn literally doesn’t move for a solid minute until the trainers make their way out to him. Legend has it that the moment this happened Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey jumped up in the owner’s box and demanded that the walls be padded before next season. Replay shows that Lynn juuuuust missed making the catch, but instead ended up flatbacking against the lower concrete part of the wall. Yeowch. Miraculously Lynn stays in the game, though not until after the home viewers are treated to several shots of him massaging his tailbone. Gritty *and* sexy!
~ Joe Morgan pops out to Rico at third on a Tiant blooper curve. Once again: good.
~ Johnny Bench hits a wall scraper to score Griffey with the tying run, but Yaz plays it perfectly to hold him to a single. I’d be mad, but come on, Johnny Bench was part of the Baseball Bunch. I can’t hate on that man.
~ Tiant blows one by Perez to end the inning, but man, that was rough. I mean, like even 40 years later that was rough.
~ Yaz leads off with a ripping single to left, but then gets rubbed out at second when Fisk sends a screamer to Rose at third for the force out. Lynn then flies gently to left and Rico Petrocelli grounds a nubber to short to force Fisk at second and the Sox are done in the blink of an eye. Well that was a discouraging way to answer a Reds rally.
~ Skinny George Foster check-swing grounds the first pitch back to the mound where Tubby Luis Tiant uses his cat-like reflexes to field the ball and throw him out. Concepcion then sends a routine fly to Evans in right while the announcers discuss Lynn’s injury, noting he’s been flexing his back a lot and took a weak swing his last at-bat. Guy wound up having a solid career, but man, what could have been.
~ Geronimo drives one juuuuust inside the third base bag and off the grandstand in left but only winds up with a single thanks to Burleson’s hustle getting to the ball. Ahh, the quirks of Fenway Park.
~ Terry Crowley FINALLY is allowed to pinch hit and the first pitch is a borderline ball, a fact that Luis Tiant is none too happy about. I tried grabbing a screencap of his stare in at the home plate ump, but it just didn’t do it justice. He really was the 70’s version of Pedro, wasn’t he?
~ Crowley sends an inning-ending grounder to short but when Burleson goes to flip to second there’s nobody home! By the time he realizes it it’s too late to throw out the batter and now there are two men on with two outs. Doyle was apparently playing deep in the hole on the right side with the lefty up. Weird play in a game loaded with them. Garagiola refers to Burleson’s mental miscue as a “boner”, which of course makes me giggle like an 8-year old. Rose saves him from infamy though by grounding one to the Rooster who takes it himself to second for the force-out. I’m almost disappointed that the Reds didn’t score there because “Burleson’s Boner” would have been a fun way to remember this game had they won because of it.
~ The Reds employ their fifth pitcher of the night, Pedro Borbon, and while he warms up Joe G. and Tony K. riff on an NBC drop about an upcoming Bob Hope TV special. That might the most 70’s sentence I type all night.
~ Called strike one on Dwight Evans to open the bottom of the sixth and Dewey is none too happy about it, shooting the ump a look. Grow a sweet moustache and you’ll start getting those calls, Dwight. Trust me on this.
~ Anyway, hard grounder to Morgan and Evans is out.
~ Burleson draws his second walk while I’m reminded by the announcers ongoing banter that there was very much a divide between the American League and National League back in those days in terms of knowledge of each other. Long before interleague play and free agency, teams had little interaction with players from the other league. That keeps coming up on the broadcast, highlighting just how special the World Series really was. For many of the guys playing it was the only chance to play in the other’s park and against certain players. Nowadays it’s taken for granted. I kinda miss that aspect of things. Meanwhile Tiant fails to get the bunt down on the third strike and is called out for fouling it off the plate. Always thought that was a weird rule.
~ Another feeble groundout by Cecil Cooper and we’re through six, still tied.
~ Ken “Fred Lynn Killer” Griffey drives one under Cooper’s glove at first for a single. Poor Cecil is having a rough go of it tonight.
~ Listening to Joe Garagiola call a ballgame is a real treat. He has a very laid back style, he’s full of stories, he picks up on so many little subtleties of the game, and he does it all with a sense of joy towards the game. You can tell he just loves it.
~ Joe Morgan reaches out and lashes one into left, sending Griffey to second. At this point I’m just waiting on the Reds to get the lead because, well… I know they do. I just don’t know how.
~ After another feeble swing-and-a-miss, Bench manages to loft one to left for out number one. Tiant’s been giving him fits all night.
~ Tony Perez flies out to right and Griffey moves over to third on the tag-up despite Evans best efforts to keep him at second. I love watching Dewey line-up a catch when he’s prepping an immediate throw. Textbook form, kids.
~ Fisk out to the mound for a visit with Tiant and Burleson and he looks like a freaking GIANT.
~ And there it is. Foster doubles off the wall deep in center to score both runners (Morgan was running with the pitch) and now the Reds have their first lead at 5-3. I’m not gonna lie, watching Joe Morgan fistpump as he rounded home kinda made me nauseous.
~ BTW, we’re in the 7th inning but according to the timer on my video player we’re barely past the half-way point of this thing. Buckle in, folks, this is an epic game we’re dealing with. The inning ends when Concepcion grounds a sharp one to Burleson at short who guns him out.
~ Infield pop-out for Denny Doyle leads off the Sox half of the seventh. Dustin Pedroia demands more grit from Mr. Doyle. Yaz then grounds to Morgan at second. Pedroia demands more from Yaz too. Fisk follows that with a grounder to short that Concepcion makes a nice play coming in on to end the inning. Even Dustin Pedroia is smart enough not to challenge King Kong Fisk.
~ BTW, that’s the second time the Sox have followed a Reds scoring rally with a 1-2-3 inning. Not exactly the mark of a championship team there, fellas.
~ Things go from bad to worse for the hometown team as Cesar Geronimo, all 50 pounds of him, hits a popfly homerun into the right field corner. Not exactly a Pesky Pole shot, but it gets the job done either way and now the Reds are up 6-3. The Red Sox come back to win this game, we’re sure of that, right?
~ That’s it for Tiant as manager Darrel Johnson comes out with the hook. Luis looks pretty dejected as he walks off, but the Fenway Faithful giving him a standing O nonetheless. Guy deserved it. He pitched brilliantly in the series and was really cruising in this one until that hiccup in the fifth. I have to wonder if the Lynn crashing into the wall thing ruffled him somehow. He didn’t really look the same after that (neither did Lynn, but that’s obvious). Lefty Roger Moret on to pitch for Boston.
~ This is, I think, my first time seeing Moret pitch and holy cow this guy might be skinnier than any of the Reds’ guys I’ve been picking on all night. Steroids can’t come to baseball soon enough. (I keed, I keed.)
~ Cooper shakily handles a slow roller to first to retire the pitcher Borbon. In his defense this infield has been giving tricky hops all game long. Replay shows that ol’ Cecil came inches from Bucknering that ball. (I hate myself for that.)
~ That’s right, Pete Rose was a switch-hitter. Forgot about that little nugget.
~ Moret gets Rose to ground back to the mound as the announcers discuss the obvious: there’s been a pall of gloom over the whole park since Lynn’s crash (and subsequent Reds’ runs). Mind you, the Curse Of The Bambino and all that nonsense hadn’t really settled in at this point in Boston. Sure they had lost a lot and hadn’t won a World Series since 1918, but the gut punches hadn’t really started piling up yet. It wasn’t until Bucky Fucking Dent three years later that the “the baseball gods hate us” mentality started to really take hold. You can almost see it being born here though. This crowd is not expecting a comeback at this point. They’re certainly not doing anything to incite one. Hell, even the drunks have gone quiet.
~ Lynn corrals a Griffey liner to center to retire the side. I’m not 100% sure of the specifics behind the Red Sox comeback, but I’m reasonably sure it starts with this upcoming half-inning. *Fingers crossed*
~ Lynn gets the (hopeful) rally started with a one-hopper back to the mound that Borbon kicks towards the third base line for a single. Great job by Bench here to make sure Borbon doesn’t try and throw the runner out and sail one into the stands. Catchers really are the quarterbacks of baseball.
~ Talk turns to Sparky Anderson complaining about people saying that the Reds “can’t win the big ones”. Well this game certainly isn’t going to aid his cause.
~ Petrocelli walks as Borbon is literally kicking the dirt in frustration. He had Rico looking bad on a couple of swings during that at-bat, so I don’t blame him for being pissed. He’s also getting yanked from the game, so that don’t help his attitude.
~ Rawley Eastwick, as close as the Reds have to a “closer” blows off the bullpen cart and jogs in. He deserves to blow the game just for that indignity alone.
~ I know this might surprise you, but Eastwick is a bit of a beanpole. I know, I’m shocked too.
~ (Too be fair, Dwight Evans, who’s at the plate, isn’t exactly robust looking. Nor is Burleson on deck. This is the World Series of Skinny Motherfuckers.)
~ Evans keeps fouling off pitches then takes a dangerously close pitch down low that is luckily called a ball. This game is making me genuinely tense right now. What the hell is wrong with me?
~ Evans strikes out. Fuck.
~ With Rick Burleson up and one out, Bernie Carbo steps into the batter’s box. My Spidey senses are all sorts of tingling right now.
~ Burleson lines out to left, brining Bernie to the plate. Iconic Moment #2 is about to happen, people.
~ Carbo is 1 for 2 in the Series. The 1? A pinch hit homerun. #Believe
~ The crowd is starting the show some life now, but Carbo swings right through a pitch for strike number two. This is getting serious.
~ Almost Iconic Moment #2, as Carbo fights off an inside pitch to foul it off with one of the most God awful swings you’ll ever see. Just brutal. The replay reinforces just how late it was as it really looks like he’s hitting the ball from out of Bench’s mitt. Classic.
~ “DEEP CENTER FIELD! WAY BACK! WAY BACK… WE’RE TIED UP!”
~ Carbo launches it to one of the deeper parts of the park for the epic game-tying home run! I got goose pimples on my goose pimples right now and I’ve seen this homerun so many times over the years I’ve lost count. That shot of Bernie streaking towards home with his arms back almost like he’s flying has been etched in my brain since childhood. One of the most thrilling moments in Sox history and it’s yet it’s not even the best one of this game!
~ If I’m Luis Tiant I take Bernie into the tunnel right now and give him the sloppiest blowjob in history. Or a Cuban cigar, whichever’s easiest.
~ Sox skipper Darrel Johnson can hardly contain his excitement.
~ BTW, you shoulda taken the bullpen car, Rawley. Just sayin’.
~ Cecil Cooper strikes out to end the eighth. Rough night for the guy. He was one of my favorites with the Brewers in the mid-80’s (long before I even knew he had once been on the Sox), but this is not his night. Thankfully, it WAS Bernie Carbo’s night! Tie game, bitches!
~ Got a hunch this game might go to extra innings. Just a gut feeling.
~ Dick Drago is in to pitch for the Sox, while newly minted hero Bernie Carbo stays in the game to play left, which means Yaz slides over to first and Cooper is out. Drago is hitting in Cooper’s spot in the line-up for those of you keeping score at home.
~ Joe Morgan pops up to Yaz, now at first. Bench then grounds a sharp one to third, but Rico rangers nicely to his left and throws him out. Crowd is pretty pumped for every pitch at this point it’s worth noting. Perez then pops out to Yaz in foul ground to end the inning. Dick Drago just retired three consecutive Hall of Famers in the top of the ninth of a World Series Game Six that was tied. I feel like this maybe gets overlooked for some reason. (Oh yeah, because of the other crazy shit that has happened – and will happen.)
~ Battling Denny Doyle leads the inning off with a four pitch walk. The announcers discuss how best to get him into scoring position and Stockton says, “Carl Yastrzemski has not sacrificed at all in 1975”, to which I reply “How DARE you, sir! Carl Yastrzemski sacrifices every single day to make this team great! Take it back, Stockton! TAKE IT BACK!”
~ I may be a little too into this game right now.
~ Yaz squares to bunt. What the fuck is happening right now?
~ After a foul, Yaz laces a soft liner to right and Doyle scrambles all the way around to third! AND HERE COMES FISK!!! The moment is upon us! (*I suddenly remember all the other stuff that still has to happen in this game*) Dammit.
~ Sparky goes to his bullpen once again, as he’s seen enough of Eastwick (haven’t we all). He’s burning through relievers at this point. If this game makes it to extras, that might prove a problem.
~ Will McEnaney takes the bullpen cart in. He’s no dummy.
~ Fisk gets intentionally walked for the second time in the game. Sooooo… no home run yet?
~ So the bases are loaded with nobody out and it occurs to me the Sox don’t win the game here. I have no idea how the hell they blow this near perfect scenario, but I imagine it is in some truly horrific Soxian way.
~ First pitch and Lynn lofts a high but shallow fly to left. Foster gets under it for the out and then rifles a throw to Bench at the plate. Doyle tagging from third is out in a close one. That was not an easy play for Foster, as he was right up against the wall and he’s a righty thrower. Very little room to move. He had to come almost completely over the top with his throw to get Doyle. It’s the little things, folks.
~ I suppose you could second guess Doyle (or Zimmer the third base coach for sending him) since the ball was hit so shallow, but the season was on the line and that was gonna have to be a perfect play to get him. Besides, Yaz tagged and moved to third. They’ve still got the winning run 90 feet away.
~ Petrocelli grounds out to Rose at third and we’re going to extra innings. Somehow I knew this would happen.
~ According to the timer on the video there’s still 54 minutes left in this broadcast (and that’s *without* commercials). I’m not sure my heart can take much more.
~ Foster grounds out to short and Burleson unloads a bee bee to first. Dude plays the game hard, no question about that.
~ Scarecrow Concepcion skips one up the middle for a base hit. He then *almost* gets picked off first (more than once) as Drago throws over like half-a-dozen times. If they were the road team the crowd would be eating him alive right now. Sox fans: “I’ll allow it.”.
~ Concepcion steals second thanks to Fisk sailing the throw a bit and his own unorthodox slide. Seriously, how he wound up laying face-up on top of second base is a mystery even the baseball gods can’t explain.
~ Joe informs us that Tony Kubek had gone down to the Reds clubhouse in the event of a series clinching win but now is just sort of hanging out behind home plate, unsure of where to go. I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice he was missing from the booth.
~ Big strike out for Drago as Geronimo lunges at something off the plate. Also, I’m losing feeling in my legs.
~ I don’t want to say this game is running long, but they just announced that the Tonight Show has been cancelled for the night. I’m assuming that means in 1975, not 2016, but I can’t be sure of that.
~ Dan Driessen becomes the latest Reds pinch hitter and I’m reminded that their bench was apparently loaded with guys I had too many duplicate baseball cards of as a kid.
~ A pop-up down the left field line looks like it could be a disaster as three Sox converge to make the play but the crisis is averted when Carbo makes the awkward catch. It’s a good thing he wound up being a cult hero because I gotta tell ya, he ain’t the most graceful athlete I’ve ever seen.
~ Replay shows a fan in the front row (with a glove!) almost try to make a play on the ball before getting wise and pulling back when he realizes the Sox guys are trying to do the same. *insert Chicago Cubs/Bartman joke here*
~ Pat Darcy becomes the 8th Reds pitcher of the night as we go to the bottom of the 10th. How many relievers did they have?!
~ Darcy sails a pitch over Dewey’s head all the way to the backstop. Well then.
~ I guess Darcy is actually a starter. We’re officially into the “all hands on deck, it’s game six bitches!” portion of the game. Evans grounds back to the mound for the first out.
~ Burleson pops out to his counterpart at short, bringing up Carbo to the expected hero’s welcome. Either TV sound quality has improved greatly over the years or people in the 1970’s cheered at a much higher pitch than they do today. Could it be both? Somebody get the Sports Science guys on this.
~ Carbo whiffs to end perhaps the most boring inning of the game and yet I was tense throughout. Sports are weird.
~ Pete Rose steps to the plate for what I imagine is the at-bat where he somewhat famously is said to have leaned over to Fisk at the time and said, “hell of a ballgame we’re having here, huh?”. Again, it sucks that the gambling thing tainted his legacy because he was a damn fine player and one of the game’s great characters..
~ Rose spins into a pitch and supposedly gets hit by it so he sprints to first while Fisk argues with the ump that there ain’t no damn way. Replay shows the ball never hit Rose. I take it back. Pete Rose is a jerk. Fuck Pete Rose. ATT-I-CA! ATT-I-CA!
~ Attempted sacrifice by Griffey fails when his nubber bunt is pounced on by Fisk who throws out Rose at second. Yeah! Take that, Charlie Hustle, you cheater!
~ I need a drink.
~ Morgan is up now and I *think* I know what happens next.
~ Iconic Moment #3 is upon us as Morgan launches one deep into the right field corner that Evans gets turned around on before making a desperation leaping one-handed overhead stab at… and CATCHES IT!
~ He then wheels around and throws it way offline to first, but by this point Griffey is halfway to third having no idea Evans made the catch and they double him off first easily. Again, one of the most famous plays in Sox history and yet not even the most famous play of this game. When people talk about Game Six 1975 being one of the greatest games in baseball history, this is what they mean. This shit is nuts.
~ BTW, when they double Griffey off first it was Burleson, the frigging shortstop, who made the putout at first. Talk about heads up. People drool all over the play when Jeter streaked across the infield to get that errant relay throw in ’96(?), but you never hear about this play. Similar situation, it’s just that Burleson’s part wasn’t nearly as flashy. Underrated part of the play though.
~ Have I mentioned I love baseball? Because I do. I really, really do. Even moldy 40 year old baseball.
~ Rick Miller’s pornstache pinch hits for the pitcher Drago and flies weakly out to Foster in left. Back to the stag film circuit for you.
~ Dirtdog Denny Doyle ™ grounds out to short. He’s doing the legacy no favors tonight.
~ Yaz is up. Either he gets on and sets the stage for Fisk or this game is going to the twelfth. My brain is mush at this point and I honestly can’t remember what happens.
~ Nubber to short and that’s the inning. Great. Now I gotta sit through a meaningless top of the 12th. Did I forget something? I mean, does somebody lose a limb diving for a ball? At this stage I’m prepared for the Reds to win in it in the top of the 12th. Nothing makes sense anymore, so why should I trust a half century of history?
~ Bench, Perez, and Foster are due up. Murderers row. Seriously, this is killing me.
~ Pudge Fisk, who still has a role to play in this thing, makes a nice catch of a foul pop off the bat of Bench, falling on his ass as he caught the ball. Joe G. approves.
~ BTW, Rick Wise is in to pitch for the Sox. I’m not sure why or if this matters at this point, but I’m nothing if not complete.
~ BTW, PT2. Rick Wise looks kinda like Det. Deitrich from Barney Miller. Oh, and Perez singles up the middle. Okay, now they’re just dragging this out unnecessarily.
~ And now Foster fists a bloop single into left. What the hell is happening? The Reds can’t POSSIBLY score here, can they? Did somebody switch the tape? Am I watching the right game?! WHO ORDERED THE CODE RED?!
~ I really, REALLY need a drink.
~ Concepcion flies out to Evans in right and the runners hold because at this point who the fuck would run on Dwight Evans? Not I.
~ Johnson out to visit Wise at the mound because that’s exactly what this game needs: another delay. My nerves are completely frayed, in case you hadn’t noticed. And this game ended 40+ years ago.
~ Wise fans Geronimo with a called third strike to mercifully send us to the bottom of the 12th where history awaits. I’m not gonna lie… this has *totally* been worth it.
~ Pudge makes his now famous walk to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th. I’m all sorts of tingly right now.
~ First pitch is a ball high.
~ “THERE IT GOES, A LONG DRIVE, IF IT STAYS FAIR… HOME RUN!”
~ Seriously, I may have just blacked out for a moment.
~ Fisk of course launches a shot off the foul pole in left for a game winner and then rounds the bases skipping like a schoolgirl before plowing into a half dozen fans on his way from 3rd to home because security in the 70’s was non-existent. As it is, only about five Sox players are there to greet him at the plate as the rest of the mob is just crazed fans. The Sox guys all scuttle quickly into the dugout and down into the clubhouse and that’s basically it. Thank God they’ve stopped letting fans on the field these days so that we can actually see the in-the-moment celebration of the players instead of a bunch of drunks ruining things. That’s one way the game has *definitely* changed for the better.
~ Stockton attempts to put a bow on things while NBC shows shots of the fans going nuts in the stands and I start to have this weird feeling that we won’t actually get the shot of Iconic Moment #4 that we’ve come to know and cherish. But then there it is, and man, what a joy it is to watch that infamous body English bit as Fisk wills the ball to stay fair, especially as Stockton and Garagiola see it for the first time themselves. They’re both tinkled pink by it. Just a fantastic baseball moment.
~ We’re on to game seven, people.
~ They throw it to Kubek on the field for an interview with Fisk, but yeah, he ain’t coming back out, so with that… the broadcast cuts out, at least on the YouTube version. So there you have it.
One of the greatest games of all time? Yup. Absolutely. It had everything. Big home runs, great fielding plays, crazy bounces, wicked pitches, a dude crashing into wall, I mean, what more could you ask for? And some forty years later it still packs an emotional punch. But perhaps the best part? You could play that exact same game today and nobody would notice the difference. I mean sure, the uniforms have changed, and the physiques have changed (boy have they), and the broadcast bells and whistles are different, but the game? The actual baseball? The same today as it was then. They can mess with it all they want, the beauty of baseball will always shine through. Although…
Can you imagine how long a wait we would have had to sit through for the replay guys to confirm that Fisk’s homerun was legit? Ugh. Get rid of that crap, MLB. Let the baseball be.
Thanks for reading, folks. This was fun.