Running cows, ice showers, grief and jubilation – .

Running cows, ice showers, grief and jubilation – .

Another chapter is about to be written in the history of baseball’s most famous rivalry. With the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees meeting on Tuesday at Fenway Park during the 2021 American League Wild Card Game (8 p.m. ET on ESPN), it reminded us of some of our favorite memories of the Red Sox. -Yankees – whether it’s a behind-the-scenes story or just moments that have marked us as sports fans, changing us forever. Here are a few.

Buster Olney : The scab is ripped from my memories, the scar tissue is shattered, and I guess we have to talk about the horrible, horrible day the Yankees and Red Sox faced in a playoff game. October 2, 1978. I was 14 years old.

My family’s dairy farm is located in Randolph Center, Vermont, a map point of 400 people and 1,000 cows, but for the record: I was not a Red Sox fan. I had read a book about Sandy Koufax when I was 8, and soon after when I first played Little League, it was for a team called the Dodgers. Naturally, the Dodgers of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Dusty Baker became my team, probably to an unhealthy degree. The worst argument I have ever had with my amazing and beloved late mother was about my high school yearbook photo in my senior year, but I won: me with a Dodgers cap and a Lakers t-shirt , standing next to one of our cow jerseys. Truly, she had hoped for better from her offspring.

The Dodgers lost the World Series in 1974, and when they finally defeated the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 and reached the World Series, Reggie Jackson destroyed them. Five home runs in the World Series, three in the epic Game 6. With the last out, I cried and fully invested in defeating the hated Yankees. In 1978, the Red Sox became my backup in that effort, taking a huge lead in the AHL East, up to 14 games – before collapsing. The Yankees caught and passed them in September.

But the Red Sox recovered just at the end of that regular season, forcing the one-game playoffs, which were scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET. Usually the school bus would bounce off the dirt off Crocker Road and bring me home at 3:15 p.m. so there was a chance I might miss a few rounds. I asked my mom if I could skip school to watch the game. She agreed, as long as I spent the first half of the day working on the woodpile.

At the end of the second set, Carl Yastrzemski hit a home run to right field near the Pesky Pole. It was obvious that Yankees starter Ron Guidry – so dominant that year – just wasn’t the same, maybe a little tired. But only a minute or two after Yaz returned to the Red Sox dugout, I heard a frantic, insistent cry from Ed, my stepfather.

” Guy! He shouted from the barn, “The cows are out!” “

Our milking herd, about 30, had passed through a fence in the northeast corner of our 108-acre property, heading over a hill and into a neighbor’s pasture. We had a cow, Debbie – who had a peaked tail after her mother mistook her for the umbilical cord at birth – with particularly thick skin that turned her into a fence-breaking mutant.

There was no debate, no discussion of what was to happen next: I had to go and get the cows, using a bucket of grain to lure them to our property. But I wasn’t sure if it would take me one or five innings or the rest of the game. With tears of anger I ran down a cow path to the top of the hill, furious at the injustice of life, cursing Debbie, cursing Debbie’s mother for turning Debbie into a monstrous fencebreaker constantly looking for greener grass, and, of course, cursing the Yankees.

However, the cow’s recovery took less than an hour and I was back to watch the game in the sixth inning, just in time to see Boston add a run and take a 2-0 lead. But at the top of the seventh inning, Bucky Dent was immortalized, his hands strangled by the bat he borrowed from Mickey Rivers. Dent lifted the ball to the left and, looking at the lazy fly, Yastrzemski bent his body in disbelief as he saw the ball drop into the net that was draped over the top of the green monster at the time.

You could hear the yells of joy from Yankees players over the stunned silence of a fan base in six states. And so was born the New England refrain, “Bucky F-ing Dent”.

In the eighth inning, Reggie Jackson – yes, him again – had a home run. The Red Sox were trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, which would be filled with moments that, at the time, seemed to distinguish the two franchises. When Jerry Remy slashed a straight field single with a runner at the start, Yankees right fielder Lou Piniella – briefly blinded by the late afternoon and early fall sun – pulled out his gloved hand and pulled out caught the ball on a rebound. (Luck? Clever ones? Both?) Boston’s Rick Burleson put the brakes on as he smashed second, classic conservatism for a Red Sox team relying on the home run. And Burleson would be stuck in third when Yaz came out third to end the game.

I remember doing my barn chores in silence that night, fearing what seemed inevitable. After surviving the playoff game with the Red Sox, the Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series and then faced the Dodgers in the World Series for the second year in a row.

The Dodgers won the first two games of the 1978 World Series – game two ended with Bob Welch beating Reggie Jackson – and I doubled my bets with Donnie Russell and the other Yankees fans at Randolph Union High School . But the Yankees would return, with Reggie playing a central role: he blocked his hip in the way of a pitch and should have been called for interference, but the stupid umps botched that call. The Yankees won Games 3, 4, and 5, and in Game 6, Reggie hit a Welch knockout, bouncing around the bases, and I cried bitterly. Reggie and the Yankees made me cry a lot. In 1998, the New York Times appointed me to be the beatwriter covering the Yankees. A decade ago, the avid Dodgers fan in me was gone quickly after I started covering pro baseball, a quick transition that surprised me. After that, I rooted for good stories and for good things to happen to good people.

During that first spring practice in the Yankees camp, I saw Reggie standing by a batting cage and walked over and struck up a conversation – probably about their young shortstop, Derek Jeter. . All very professional. As Reggie and I spoke, however, there was a live stream of thoughts going through one corner of my brain. I can’t believe I’m talking with Reggie Jackson. I can’t believe how much this man tortured my teenage years. Oh my god, I despised him.

Reggie was awesome, awesome, discussing the sport he loved. The sport we love. Even when it breaks our hearts.


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