Red Sox History: Ranking the biggest ‘What Ifs’ in franchise history
8: What if Bill Lee didn’t throw Tony Perez a spaceball?
It looked like the Red Sox were finally going to win the World Series. After a miraculous victory in Game 6 of the 1975 fall classic, the Red Sox took a quick 3-0 lead against the Reds in Game 7, and Bill Lee was pitching a gem. Through five innings, Lee was twirling a shutout, allowing just five hits and one walk without allowing a run.
Pete Rose singled to lead off the sixth, but Lee got Joe Morgan to fly out to right field and Johnny Bench to ground into a fielder’s choice. With the Red Sox only ten outs from a championship, future HOF’er Tony Perez came up with two down and a runner or second.
With a base open and the much less imposing George Foster on deck, Lee not only pitched to Perez, but he also threw the notorious bad-ball hitter his “spaceball,” a slow, blooping eephus pitch designed to freeze the hitter.
Perez, however, was not fooled and smacked the pitch over the Green Monster to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Red Sox had lost all the momentum, and the Reds scored singular runs in the eighth and the ninth to win the game and the series 4-3.