Step back in time as Red Sox sweep Yankees at Fenway Park
The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are flat out the greatest rivalry in major league baseball. The rivalry dates back to before baseball as the two cities have been steeped in competitiveness for centuries. The Big Apple versus the Athens of America. Politics, economics, and education. That has carried over to sports and baseball.
Growing into early adulthood in the 1950s, the Yankees were it. The premier franchise. In 1954, the Yankees won a remarkable 103 games and finished second to the Cleveland Indians. That broke a Yankee streak of five consecutive American League titles. A mere bump in the road as the Yankees then reeled off titles from 1955-1958. Four more years.
Even Broadway took note of this. The great musical “Damn Yankees” summed it up best. Joe Hardy becomes the catalyst via a deal with the devil to dethrone the Yankees and have the Washington Senators win the title. The dislike for all things Yankee reverberated in baseball. Then came 1959.
More from Red Sox History
- Two notable Red Sox anniversaries highlight current organizational failures
- Contemporary Era Committee doesn’t elect any former Red Sox to Hall of Fame
- Johnny Damon calls Red Sox out, reveals hilarious way he skirted Yankees’ grooming policy
- Remembering the best Red Sox Thanksgiving ever
- Red Sox World Series legends headline 2023 Hall of Fame ballot
On July 8th the Red Sox played a makeup game at Yankee Stadium and lost 11-5. No shock since Boston was mired in misery. Even Ted Williams was having a nightmare season that would have Teddy Ballgame hitting just .254. The Yankees were still 4.5 games behind as the traveling show moved to Boston for a five-game set.
I trudged into Boston via bus and subway for the first game of the series. Admittedly, several Yankees appealed to my 14-year-old self. Mickey Mantle, who was Roy Hobbs and Joe Hardy, Bobby Richardson, and as a pitcher to see Bob Turley. Turley had won the Cy Young Award in 1958.
Boston clobbered New York. The game ended early with the Red Sox piling on runs at a ferocious pace. Vic Wertz – a hard-hitting left-hander and Williams went yard in the second. Boston piled on in the third with seven more. Towering Frank Sullivan, tossing a complete game, was the winner. That was it as the Red Sox coasted to a 14-3 win. That was just the beginning.
Boston went on to sweep the Yankees in the five-set. The Coup De Grace was a Monday night game to close out the series. Sullivan again took the hill and Boston bats duplicated his first start in the series. I had missed the other three games but went to this one. Shocking my memory, the box score showed a nine-run sixth inning. Sullivan got the win and Jackie Jensen – the 1958 MVP – put one in the nets.
The Yankees left Boston now 7.5 games behind the White Sox. That negative only expanded as the season marched on with the Yankees finally finishing third. The Red Sox finished fifth and the Pale Hose went on to lose the World Series, but for five games in Boston, the bully got his comeuppance.
I wish this memory had a happy ending but it did not. No Disney to tweak the plot. The Yankees then went on another five-year streak of championships and the Red Sox continued to disintegrate until 1967.
Saturday night I will be at Fenway Park to witness the ongoing border war. A baseball friend is in town with two extra tickets that he has generously given to me and my daughter. Admittedly Fenway no longer has curbside appeal to me, but it will remain a raucous place to be when the Evil Empire is in town.
As we move ever forward in time few of us Red Sox fans remain who lived in a perpetual state of angst over Yankee success. Going to a game at The Stadium was fraught with a litany of insults and the usual signage. That came to a halt in 2004 and then we add on 2007, 2013, and 2018, and maybe 2021.