Boston Red Sox
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Outside Fenway Park, the section of Jersey Street which ran by the ballpark was renamed Yawkey Way in honor of the late Tom Yawkey.
It was a big year for home runs. No team hit more than the Red Sox, with 213. Jim Rice hit 39, George Scott (reacquired from the Brewers in December 1976) hit 33, and Butch Hobson hit 30. Yaz hit 28, Fisk hit 26, Lynn hit 18. Carbo hit 15 and Dwight Evans hit 14.
In the first game on May 22 in Boston, the Red Sox hit six home runs (and the Brewers hit five). On June 17, 18, and 19, the Sox scored nine runs, 10 runs, and 11 runs, sweeping the New York Yankees, while setting a record of 16 home runs in three games. “Guys were gettin’ blisters shakin’ hands,” said manager Don Zimmer. Not one of the homers belonged to Jim Rice, and no one on the Yankees team could claim one, either. Boston won, 11-1, and Yaz’s homer hit the roof faced to the right of where the retired numbers are today. It was the closest any ball has ever come to going out of Fenway Park to right field. And the Yankees seemed to be imploding. On the 18th, New York manager Billy Martin and his right-fielder Reggie Jackson tangled and had to be separated in the visitors’ dugout.
The Sox were building to a five-game lead over the rest of the pack on June 23 – and then they lost nine in a row. They recovered and won seven of eight, starting by celebrating the Fourth of July with eight home runs at Fenway Park, accounting for all the runs in a 9-6 defeat of the Blue Jays.
The team scored 859 runs, Rice driving in 114 and Butch Hobson driving in 112. Both Fisk and Yaz topped the century mark, too, with 102 apiece. For Yastrzemski, it was the fifth year he’d surpassed 100. And, remarkably, Yaz played the entire year without ever committing an error in 366 chances, mostly in left field but with some work at first base and some in right field. His 16 outfield assists led the American League.
For the first time since 1947, a Red Sox batter had 200 hits. Pesky had done it then. Now Jim Rice hit 206. Ted Cox had 21 hits – in his first and only year with the Red Sox, but he’s still in the record books: he hit safely in the first six at-bats of his career.
Pitching-wise, relief pitcher Bill “Soup” Campbell – he of the million-dollar contract - won more games than any starter: 13. And he saved 31 other games, setting a new team record (Radatz saved 29 in 1964). But Campbell was used so often (140 innings in 69 appearances, with a 2.96 ERA) that his arm was affected negatively and he was never the same again.
Tiant won 12, Cleveland won 11, and six pitchers in all won 10 or more. Bill Lee was close behind at 9-5.
Boston was within 4 ½ games of first place all year long, and they put on a push, winning 10 of their last 13 games, winning 97 games in all but the final standings show the Yankees ahead by 2 ½ games and the Red Sox and Orioles were for second place. There was a final game on the schedule between the two second-place teams, at Fenway Park, but it was rained out and not made up.
All the home runs and the close race brought out the fans. 1977 was the first year that more than 2,000,000 came to watch the Red Sox play at Fenway Park.
After the season, there was some back-and-forth over who was going to own the ballclub. GM Dick O’Connell was let go (after serving the Red Sox since just after World War II) by the Yawkey Estate. An arranged sale to a group headed by Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux was frustrated when a Cleveland group put in a bigger offer, and the American League rejected the sale in December. In March 1978, Jean Yawkey joined the Sullivan/LeRoux group and the league approved the deal. Sullivan took O’Connell’s place as general manager.By Bill Nowlin