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Yaz, 'Impossible Dream' team feted at Fenway

Members of 1967 Red Sox honored on 50th anniversary of AL pennant season
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- It has been 50 years since the Red Sox captivated their city with the "Impossible Dream" season. But the memories haven't faded away. In fact, they seem to get richer through time.

Seventeen members of the 1967 Sox -- led by Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski and American League Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg -- were celebrated in an on-field ceremony prior to Wednesday's game against the Cardinals. Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Mike Andrews were among the other players who came back for a sweet stroll down memory lane.

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BOSTON -- It has been 50 years since the Red Sox captivated their city with the "Impossible Dream" season. But the memories haven't faded away. In fact, they seem to get richer through time.

Seventeen members of the 1967 Sox -- led by Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski and American League Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg -- were celebrated in an on-field ceremony prior to Wednesday's game against the Cardinals. Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Mike Andrews were among the other players who came back for a sweet stroll down memory lane.

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"Old stories have come up and old memories have come up, and it's just great to be able to have a chance to see all of these guys," said Lonborg.

Video: STL@BOS: Lonborg on 1967 Red Sox, recent retirement

It was only fitting that the festivities took place with the Cardinals in town. Hall of Famer Bob Gibson was the man who stopped the 1967 Red Sox just one game from winning it all in Game 7 of the World Series.

Lonborg tried to match Gibson on just two days' rest, but it proved to be too tall an order.

But not even that ending seems to diminish the accomplishment of the team that came out of nowhere to win the pennant after many years of being out of contention. When you consider that Boston team was the ultimate underdog, perhaps it was more fitting that they came just short against a loaded St. Louis squad.

"I wouldn't change a thing," said Harrelson.

"I don't think the magic of this Impossible Dream team would have had this same feeling had we won everything," said Lonborg. "It was bittersweet, but if I was a writer, I probably would have written that into the script."

Video: STL@BOS: Smith discusses 1967 AL Championship team

Nobody could have scripted what Yastrzemski would do in the season that defined his Hall of Fame career. Yaz went 7-for-8 in the final two games of the regular season, when the only thing that was on the line was everything.

"You know everything fell into place for me personally the last few weeks of the season," said Yastrzemski. "Because every time I came up, there were men on base. Pitchers couldn't pitch around me, so I had the chance to focus in and hit. If you didn't have men on base, then pitchers could pitch around me."

Five decades later, Yaz's teammates remain awed by his accomplishments. He hit .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs.

"Ted Williams was a good friend of mine, a great hitter. He and [Stan] Musial were arguably the two best hitters that ever lived," said Harrelson. "Neither one of those ever had a year like Yastrzemski had in '67. Never had a year like that. Yaz had the most impactful year on a franchise in the history of the game."

But Yaz is the first to remind people that the role players also made that surreal season possible.

"Everyone down the stretch on that team contributed. It was like somebody different every day," Yastrzemski said. "And that's what it takes to win a pennant. And we were very fortunate that we had 25 guys and all of them contributed."

The enthusiasm of Red Sox fans also sprouted that season and there has been no turning back ever since.

"Definitely," said Lonborg. "We were the ones that sparked the fire, and the fire is now Red Sox Nation, so it's great to be part of all of that."

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

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