For the past couple of years I have written Baseball Notes during the major league season. For a while I did them every day, but even for me that was too much, so this season, 2013, I did Notes on weekdays.
But even with a less-demanding schedule, I still wrote more than 92,000 words by season’s end (Sept. 29). If you accept the publishing industry’s standard that 250 words make a page, that’s a 389-page book.
I posted my last Baseball Notes for this year Sept. 30 and said I was done, that I would be free of my self-imposed regime and reclaim two hours of my mornings.
However, one person, Tom Clavin, who has written a highly acclaimed book, “The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream,” wrote to say he would be lost without Notes; his days empty and devoid of meaning until Spring Training (Long Island winters are like that).
That one email was sufficient, so I resolved to keep writing during the playoffs and World Series, estimating that when baseball is finally done (it should be over by Thanksgiving), I will have written the grand total of more than 107,000 words — a 428-page tome.
Not wishing to having totally wasted my time, I intend to publish before Christmas an e-book with the original title of: “Mitrovich’s Baseball Notes for 2013.” At $4.95, it will make a marvelous holiday gift.
You read it first here in The Daily Transcript.
Now, as Game 1 of World Series CIX (109) opens tonight at Fenway Park — Fox Sports at 4:30 p.m. — here is a sample of what I did for 143 days this past baseball season:
In 1912 Fenway Park opened and the Red Sox won their second World Series, taking four of seven from the New York Giants (Boston also won in 1901, but played then as the Boston Americans). As the Red Sox, they would win again in 1915, ’16 and ’18.
Boston was back in the World Series 28 years later, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946; a series remembered for Enos Slaughter’s dash from first to home with the winning run in the eighth inning of Game 7 at Sportsman Park, while shortstop Johnny Pesky momentarily held the relay from outfielder Leon Culberson before throwing to catcher Hal Wagner — but the deed was done and the Cards had won.
Another 23 years passed before the Red Sox won the American League pennant in 1967 — and faced again the St. Louis Cardinals. This World Series ended as had ‘46, with St. Louis winning four of seven despite the best efforts of Carl Yastrzemski, who hit .400, including three home runs and five batted in.
It was a mere eight years, 1975, before the Sox were in back in the World Series, this time against the Cincinnati Reds. It became one of the most memorable ever played; with Game 6 as great as any in World Series history, one that saw Bernie Carbo hit a game-tying home run in the 8th, Dwight Evans make a miracle catch in right field in the 11th and, of course, Carlton Fisk’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning and a 7-6 Red Sox win.
Perhaps the most famous World Series video ever was shot by a television cameraman sitting inside the Green Monster scoreboard who almost lost the moment when a rather large rat ran between his legs.
While the Red Sox lost Game 7 at Fenway, Game 6 is in the memory bank forever.
The next World Series interval was 11 years, with the Red Sox facing the New York Mets in ’86. Again the Sox would lose, as in the sixth game at Shea Stadium in Queens, a ball rolled through Billy Buckner’s legs and the championship with it, as the Mets won that night and the next.
But in 2002 the Yawkey Way Trinity of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino assumed control of the Red Sox, and two years later, in 2004 after 86 years, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, defeating St. Louis in four straight games.
They would repeat that performance in ’07, winning another four straight, this time against the Colorado Rockies.
But both World Series were won on the road, ’04 below the Arch at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and in ’07 at mile high Coors Field in Denver.
The last time the Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park was 95 years ago, Sept. 11, 1918, when they defeated the Chicago Cubs in Game 6, 2-1, behind the pitching of Carl May. This was the World Series that saw Babe Ruth win two games, both shutouts, and run his consecutive World Series scoreless-inning streak to 29⅔.
With that as preface, the Red Sox won Saturday’s Game 6 of the ALCS at Fenway over Detroit; a victory made possible on a grand slam home run by Shane Victorino.
Not unlike Game 2 six days before at Fenway, won by the Sox on a grand slam from David Ortiz, Saturday night’s game was no less anxiety-ridden — an anxiety level that grew exponentially at the ballpark on Yawkey Way and in Red Sox Nation, as the Sox wasted scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity and trailed 2-1 going into the seventh.
I won't even mention the near-death experience of watching manager John Farrell summon Franklin Morales from the bullpen, until Mr. Victorino’s did his heroic number.
The Sox play on, as Boston’s Boys of Summer meet the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park.
Here’s my prediction: Unless Franklin Morales is seen, the Red Sox will win this World Series in Game 6 at Fenway one week from tonight: Wednesday, Oct. 30.
So far my prophecies, whether calling the exact number of 332 Electoral College votes for President Barack Obama last year, or the Red Sox winning the American League pennant this year, have been spot on.
But my prediction was made, not in April but May, when I sent Larry Lucchino a text message saying, “The magic is back.” Being superstitious, he didn’t respond. But if you know anything about the Red Sox season, you know it has been magical indeed!
But what if this time I’m wrong?
Shoot me at sunrise at Bunker Hill, where Asa Pollard fell, the first American to die from a British musket.
Quote of the day: “The playoffs are the wedge between the season and the World Series. If you lose, it means you won’t be going to the greatest sports event in this country. It’s the quagmire before the Promised Land. It’s the Red Sea that has to be crossed. If you don’t cross into the World Series, you’re a loser. You’re forgotten by Thanksgiving.”
— Tim McCarver, “Oh Baby, I Love It!” (1987)
Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader.