The 1986 Boston Red Sox Really Were Losers

Harold FriendChief Writer IJuly 23, 2009

Dwight Evans expressed it perfectly when he said, "I don't like to lose. I'm not going to say it's fun to be in a World Series because the ultimate is to be world champions."

One of Sports' Most Agonizing Defeats

The 1986 Boston Red Sox were within one strike of winning the World Series on three consecutive batters, and each time, the result was a single. Boston lost the game, which forced a Game 7.

In the sixth inning of the deciding game, the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead, only to lose, 8-5. It was one of the most agonizing defeats in the history of sports.

Getting to the World Series Is Not Good Enough

Dwight Evans told the truth. It's ridiculous to state the obvious, which is that a team must get to the World Series before it can win the World Series, and then consider getting the chance to become World Champions as a great accomplishment.

Getting to the World Series is merely the next to last step. The World Series loser is no more successful than the team with the worst record in the league.

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The World Series wasn't fun for Dwight Evans because he lost. Only winners have fun.

Marty Barrett, MVP

Second baseman Marty Barrett, whose name appeared on the scoreboard as the Series MVP during the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6, tried to rationalize what had occurred.

"I really thought we were going to win. They showed us a lot with their clutch hitting and good pitching. Both games were close.

We thought we had them on the ropes when it was 3-0, but I guess it was just their year."

It's an argument that has no answer.

Was Marty Barrett right? Was it clutch hitting and good pitching that resulted in the Red Sox defeat, or was it an inability to perform under pressure by the Red Sox that produced the clutch hits and good pitching?

Bruce Hurst Tired

Bruce Hurst, who had won Games 1 and 5, started Game 7 on three days rest, which was not unusual for a top starting pitcher in 1986.

Hurst retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced, but he tired in the sixth inning and admitted that he was unaware of it.

"I didn't recognize it as quickly as I should have. The same thing happened to me in California. My arm got tired before I realized it, and I started to get the ball up."

Calvin Schiraldi Loses

Hurst allowed three runs, which tied the game, and Red Sox manager John McNamara, who didn't have the sense to replace first baseman Bill Buckner for defensive purposes late in Game 6, brought in Calvin Schiraldi.

The Red Sox immediately fell behind when the first batter Schiraldi faced hit a home run. The game was over.

Schiraldi picked up where Marty Barrett left off.

"They did a super job coming back. They shouldn't have won, but they did. They have my congratulations."

Shiraldi forgot to mention that they didn't need his congratulations. They had his pitches to hit.

Questioning John McNamara

Calvin Schiraldi was the Red Sox closer. In 1986, the term had not fully caught on, and a closer was often referred to as a "short man."

When asked why he brought in his short man or closer so early, John McNamara, who was as responsible for the Red Sox loss as any of his pitchers, explained, "We've done that before. Schiraldi is our short man. He got us here. We thought that was the spot for him. We had Roger Clemens to pitch in the ninth."

Of course, there was no need for Roger to pitch in the ninth because the game was over.

Billy Buckner Was Proud

With the passage of time, Billy Buckner's blame has been de-emphasized, especially because he had injured legs and should never have been playing late in the game, but Billy Buckner didn't view winning the way Billy Martin or Bob Gibson viewed it.

"I'm proud of the fact the team made it this far. They outplayed us just slightly. We hit the ball a little better than they did, but their balls seemed to fall in."

Billy, being outplayed slightly is all it takes to lose the World Series.

Rich Gedman's Perspective

Finally, contrast what Barrett, Hurst, McNamara, and Buckner had to say with that of catcher Rich Gedman when he was asked about the season in which the Red Sox won the pennant.

"I guess if that's one consolation, I should be happy. But I'm not."


By MICHAEL MARTINEZ. (1986, October 28). Red Sox Stunned By Lost Chances. New York Times (1857-Current file),D33. Retrieved July 23, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 283982802).

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