Home runs, great defense have made for memorable World Series clashes in Boston
Game 6 at Fenway Park means really only one thing in the mind's eye of many a baseball fan: Carlton Fisk hopping up and down, waving the ball fair in 1975.
But for the first time in almost a century, on Wednesday night, it could mean a different photo opportunity for the Red Sox, this one of them celebrating a World Series title on their home field. The Red Sox take a 3-2 Series lead into their latest Game 6, against the Cardinals, with an 8:07 p.m. ET first pitch Wednesday on FOX (7:30 p.m. air time).
When Fisk hit his instant-classic homer just inside the foul pole to beat the Reds, he sent the 1975 World Series to a seventh game. Same goes for Rico Petrocelli's two homers in Game 6 of the 1967 World Series. Boston lost the Series in seven both times.
But this year, the Red Sox are in position to win it all at home, a pleasure they haven't had since 1918 -- their four-game sweeps in 2004 and '07 both finishing on the road.
On Wednesday night, another chapter of Fenway Park's rich Game 6 history will be written. There have been only three previously, but they all had some serious pop.
The Oct. 21, 1975, game, which ended with the iconic image of Fisk dancing up the first-base line until the baseball bounced off the foul screen next to the Green Monster, certainly stands as one of the great endings in Fall Classic history.
"I don't think anybody in the world could ask for a better game," Fisk would say afterward in an Associated Press account.
After hitting the pitch from Reds reliever Pat Darcy, Fisk was mobbed while running around the bases to score the winning run in a dramatic 7-6 victory.
"I made sure I touched every base," Fisk said. "I touched every little white thing I saw on the way around. In fact, I was ready to straight-arm or push anybody out of the way."
But Fisk's final blow wasn't the only act of baseball heroism that kept Boston's dream of a World Series title alive that long night. If not for Bernie Carbo and Dwight Evans, that famous homer wouldn't have been possible.
The Sox were down to their last four outs when Carbo blasted a three-run pinch-hit homer to straightaway center field, his second pinch-hit homer of the Series tying the score at 6 in the bottom of the eighth, and the game went into extras.
Bring it home
World Series Game 6s at Fenway Park
Bos. 7, Cin. 6
Reds in 7
Bos. 8, Stl. 4
Cardinals in 7
Bos. 2, Chi. 1
Red Sox in 6
In the 11th, Evans made a remarkable catch at that short right-field wall that has seen so much action in the 2013 postseason, robbing Joe Morgan of what might have been a two-run homer -- or at least extra bases -- and the lead. Not only did Evans make the catch, he got rid of the ball quickly and doubled Ken Griffey off first base to end the inning.
The eight-time Gold Glove winner would say later that he actually lost sight of the ball just before catching it in the middle of a leap that ended with him bouncing off the fence.
"No one was more surprised than me. I jumped and my glove went behind my head, and the ball landed in my glove," Evans said in a 2006 "Red Sox Stories" interview produced by the club.
The Reds would rally the next night, however, taking the first of two consecutive World Series titles by scoring the winning run in the top of the ninth of Game 7.
Six degrees of separation
The Red Sox are 4-3 in Game 6 of a World Series
Mets in 7
Reds in 7
Cardinals in 7
Cardinals in 7
Red Sox in 6
Red Sox in 7
Red Sox in 8
Game 6 in 1967 was another classic marked by homers, but these came in bunches and helped lead to a rout for the "Impossible Dream" Sox. The homers began with Rico Petrocelli blasting one into the netting over the Green Monster, and he added one in a fourth inning that had three, with Carl Yastrzemski and Reggie Smith each going deep.
"After the second one, I was in another world. I got chills running around the bases," Petrocelli said.
As it turned out, a four-run, six-hit seventh inning actually was the difference -- that, and a strong outing by Gary Waslewski, who hadn't started since July (with Triple-A Toronto) but pitched into the sixth inning for the Sox.
"All season long we've had our backs against the wall. Now we've rebounded once again into a seventh game of the World Series," Yastrzemski said.
St. Louis would keep the Boston faithful waiting longer for that elusive World Series title, with Bob Gibson pitching a complete game and hitting a homer while Lou Brock stole three bases in a 7-2 Cards win in Game 7.
The only other Game 6 of any kind played at Fenway Park was back in 1918, which for 86 years was the World Series title the team simply couldn't duplicate until 2004.
In that one, a Series played in September because the season was cut short by World War I, a lefty named Babe Ruth had been the winning pitcher twice by the time Game 6 arrived. Ruth would be traded to the Yankees a year later.
In Game 6, it was a wild throw by Cubs right fielder Max Flack in the third inning that sent home the only two runs the Sox would need, the solid defender allowing a fly ball to bounce off his glove on what would have been the final out of the inning.
With right-hander Carl Mays going the distance, the 2-1 victory gave the Red Sox a fourth World Series title in the span of seven years, and something that hasn't been repeated in 95 years -- a Fenway celebration of winning it all.
Whether that's how the story ends on Wednesday or not remains to be seen, but it's Game 6 at Fenway, and it's the 2013 World Series, so it's bound to be something special.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.