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This year started with an accident and a death, and ended with an exorcism. After two years of solid and improving work at first base, Carlos Quintana (.295 and 71 RBIs in 1991), was at a Carnival party in Venezuela when gunshots wounded two younger brothers. He crashed into a bridge about 80 miles from Caracas while rushing them to the hospital. Q suffered a broken arm and right toe (his wife had both legs broken), and missed the entire season. Jean R. Yawkey, 83, died in February, and in accordance with her will, ownership of the Red Sox was placed in a trust managed by John R. Harrington and other trustees. Again, the team reached to sign a big free agent, this time former Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola, 32, to a three-year deal. He was a two-time 20-game winner, but for Boston he only won one more game than he lost (13-12) in 1992, and was just 25-21 over the three years. Only one other pitcher won more than he lost for the Red Sox. The Rocket – Roger Clemens - led the league both in earned run average for the third year in a row (2.41) and in walks and hits per innings pitched (a WHIP of 1.074). He struck out 208. It was the seventh year in a row he’d whiffed 200 or more. He was 18-11; he came in third in the Cy Young voting. New Red Sox manager Butch Hobson brought nothing in the way of magic. There was little hitting on this team. No one hit higher than .276, but – very oddly – there were three players who all hit .276: Scott Cooper, John Valentin, and Bob Zupcic. After 10 seasons in which he’d never hit below .300, Wade Boggs only hit .259. No one hit more homers than Tom Brunansky (15) and Quintana’s replacement at first, rookie Mo Vaughn, hit 13 homers. The team as a whole only hit 84 home runs, the lowest total since 1945. On April 12 – the fourth and fifth games of the year – the Red Sox played the last regularly-scheduled doubleheader in team history. Both starters – Matt Young and Roger Clemens – were stingy with the hits. Two games, two hits. Clemens threw a two-hit shutout in the second game, striking out 12 at Cleveland Stadium and winning, 3-0. But it was the first game that was the unusual one: Matt Young threw a no-hitter - but lost, 2-0. Trouble is, Young walked seven batters, there was an error, two stolen bases, and a fielder’s choice. Some years later, Major League Baseball declared that the game didn’t count as a no-hitter because Young only pitched eight innings – even though it was a complete game and he never gave up any hits. By the Fourth of July, the team was already 10 games out of first place. From April 13 to August 19, there was only one day they weren’t in either fourth place or fifth place. On the 20th, they sank to sixth and then held sole possession of seventh place (last place) from September 13 to the end of the year – finishing dead last at 73-89, a full 23 games behind the Blue Jays. On September 24, comedian Father Guido Sarducci held an exorcism at Fenway Park, courtesy of radio station WBCN. He sprinkled some “holy water” on the outside of the park – he wasn’t allowed in – and pronounced that the curse was broken and the 1993 Red Sox would win the World Series. Asked years later what had gone wrong, he complained that the Red Sox had never expressed appreciation, never greased his palm. After the season, with 2,098 hits over 11 years, and a .338 batting average, Wade Boggs did the unthinkable: he signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Bob Zupcic, Butch Hobson, Carlos Quintana, Frank Viola, Jean Yawkey, John Harrington, John Valentin, Matt Young, Roger Clemens, Scott Cooper, Tom Brunansky, Wade Boggs

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