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FAQ: History of Boston's legendary baseball club

@IanMBrowne
May 1, 2019

It has been a long time since the Red Sox went abroad. You’d have to go back to 2008, when they opened the regular season with two games in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics. So it will be with great excitement that the defending World Series champions take their maiden

It has been a long time since the Red Sox went abroad. You’d have to go back to 2008, when they opened the regular season with two games in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics.

So it will be with great excitement that the defending World Series champions take their maiden voyage to Europe to play two games against their fabled rivals in the United Kingdom. In fact, this will be the first time an MLB game has been played in Europe.

Learn more about the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019

The Red Sox and Yankees will take their storied rivalry to neutral territory for the first time, and London is excited to see it. The games will take place at London’s Olympic Stadium on June 29-30. The Red Sox are designated as the home team for both contests.

Here is a brief overview of some frequently asked questions about the Red Sox:

Why are the Red Sox such a historic franchise?

Throughout the years, the Red Sox organization has been blessed with some of the all-time greats to ever play the game. In the early 1900s, they had Cy Young, a pitcher so legendary that MLB’s top annual pitching award is named after him. Though Babe Ruth -- perhaps the most famous player in baseball history -- is best-known for his time with the Yankees, he broke in as an ace pitcher for the Red Sox, helping them to three World Series titles.

Ted Williams was an iconic hitter in the 1940s and '50s, and might be the best hitter who ever lived. No MLB player has hit .400 for an entire season since 1941, when Williams batted .406. Carl Yastrzemski -- known as Yaz -- succeeded Williams in left field and became a first-ballot Hall of Famer who played his whole career in Boston. In more recent times, Boston was graced by the gift of Pedro Martinez’s electric right arm. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. David Ortiz was a gregarious legend who hit towering homers out of Fenway Park and helped snap the “Curse of the Bambino."

What was the Curse of the Bambino?

After Red Sox owner Harry Frazee infamously sold Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, the success of the two franchises suddenly shifted. The Yankees turned into a powerhouse that won the World Series 26 times from 1923-2000. From 1919-2003, the Red Sox won zero championships, though they had several near misses. Author Dan Shaughnessy wrote a book in 1990 titled The Curse of the Bambino and the curse became a non-stop topic after that. Well, at least until 2004, when the Red Sox finally won it all again. In fact, the Sox won four titles from ’04-18, during which time the Yankees have won the World Series only once.

Where do the Red Sox play their home games?

Since 1912, the Red Sox have played at Fenway Park, a legendary venue that has been around longer than any other in MLB. The park is so famous that the Red Sox run several tours a day at Fenway, and many of them sell out. The park is known for its quirky dimensions, such as the Green Monster in left field that stands just 310 feet from home plate. In right-center field, there is the triangle, and it stands 420 feet from home plate. Many outfielders have gotten lost out there trying to make a play. With a lack of foul territory at Fenway, fans are on top of the action, which only adds to the excitement.

How did the Red Sox finally gain the upper hand in the rivalry?

In 2004, the Yankees held a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Red Sox in a best-of-seven American League Championship Series. It looked like the Yankees were going to add another chapter to their greatness, while Boston was going to go home feeling jinxed again. But something amazing happened after that. The Red Sox won Games 4-7 of that epic series, and then went on to sweep the Cardinals in the World Series. The Red Sox remain the only MLB team to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series. Most recently, the Red Sox defeated the Yankees again in last year’s postseason, beating them in a best-of-five Division Series.

What was the most crushing loss that the Red Sox have ever had to the Yankees?

There are a few to choose from, but the winner has to be the one-game playoff that decided the American League East division title in 1978. The Red Sox held a 14-game lead over the Yankees that July, and lost every bit of it. Then the Red Sox had to win their last eight regular-season games to force a one-game playoff game at Fenway Park. Boston led 2-0 going into the seventh inning. It was then that light-hitting shortstop Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer that crushed the Red Sox. The game ended with Boston’s legendary Yastrzemski popping up to third with the tying run on third base.

Who are the most recognizable players on the 2019 Red Sox roster?

Mookie Betts is a playmaker who can do it all on offense and defense. J.D. Martinez is a superb all-around hitter who can hit for average and power. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is one of the top offensive players at his position. Lefty starting pitcher Chris Sale is off to a surprisingly slow start this season, but he’s been one of MLB’s best aces since 2012.

How are the Red Sox doing this season?

Not so well. After winning a franchise record 108 games last season, and then going 11-3 in the postseason en route to the World Series title, the expectation was that the Sox would again be a top contender this season. They have nearly all of the same players back. But the team has started the season in what you could refer to as a London fog. Their pitching, offense and defense have all been inconsistent. The Red Sox hope to have their groove back well before they make the journey to London.

When will the Red Sox arrive in London?

The Red Sox will fly to London after an afternoon game at Fenway on June 26. They should land by the morning of June 27 and be able to check out the sights for a day or two. The Red Sox and Yankees will then hold a “media day” at Olympic Stadium.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.