|Yastrzemski: 1967 pennant made '04 and '07 possible|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 24 October 2007 17:02|
So says Yaz.
``Not only did it bring the franchise back to life, but I think it changed the whole attitude in the organization,'' Carl Yastrzemski said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night. ``I think the organization became winners. I think after '67 you were expected to go out and win.''
About 20 members of the 1967 team took part in the ceremony, lining up on the infield to watch Yastrzemski bounce the ball to current backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. Many of the same players got together at the home opener, when the Red Sox commemorated the 40th anniversary of the ``Impossible Dream'' team.
``It's been great all year,'' Yastrzemski said. ``It's a great thing, bringing it back.''
The '67 Red Sox are among baseball's biggest surprises.
The team hadn't won the pennant since 1946 - and it hadn't finished better than sixth in the '60s - before Yaz put together the last Triple Crown season in baseball, hitting .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBIs. Attendance, which regularly dwindled below a million, spiked to 1.7 million that year and hasn't been below 1.4 million in a full season since.
The '67 team went 92-70 and won the AL by one game over the Twins and Tigers. With no divisions or wild-card playoff berths at the time, only the top team in each league advanced to the World Series.
But Yaz said he's no purist when it comes to the postseason.
``Well, I wish I had a wild-card a few times,'' he said with a laugh.
That would have helped Boston make the playoffs in '73, when they finished eight games behind Baltimore in the East but one game ahead of AL West runner-up Kansas City. And in 1978, when the Red Sox and Yankees were tied after 162 games and New York advanced in a one-game playoff decided when Bucky Dent's fly ball settled into the net above the Green Monster.
``It was 18 teams in the league before they expanded,'' he said. ``It was tough, you had to win first place or that was it.''
After winning the pennant in 1967, Boston met the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series and lost in seven games. Red Sox manager Dick Williams brought Game 5 winner Jim Lonborg back on two days' rest, but the AL Cy Young winner lost to Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.
``I'd have liked to see Lonborg with one more day's rest,'' Yastrzemski said. ``What a matchup that would have been between him and Gibson.''