I was far too young for the 1975 World Series to have any sort of impact on me. My indoctrination into the Secret Club of Red Sox Heartache came during the 1986 fall classic. When Game Seven ended in New York, and the likes of Ron Darling, Gary Carter and Mookie Wilson engaged in a massive love pile-up on the field with a million boozed-up parolees, I remember quietly collapsing to the floor and remaining there a good thirty minutes before anyone thought to check if I was still breathing. It was the sort of pain I wouldn’t feel again until the 2003 ALCS.
But ’86 wasn’t all gloom and trash. Before the Sox elevated coming back from the dead to an art form — see the 2004 ALCS, 2007 ALCS, 2003 ALDS and 1999 ALDS — they stunned us all by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the California Angels in the 1986 ALCS, after being literally one strike away from elimination. While the image of Dave Henderson’s now-immortal home run has been hard-wired into most of our brains, here’s a clip that I haven’t seen that much since I recorded it on a grubby old Maxell videotape over 20 years ago: Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi shutting the door on the Angels to secure the AL pennant, and the ensuing mayhem as Oil Can Boyd, Bob Stanley, Dwight Evans, Joe Sambito, Spike Owen and a few security-ducking fans kick it old school.
The one thing that got me back then was how the announcers — one of whom I believe was Al Michaels — seemed decidedly pro-California. Check how even as the Sox get ready to complete an inexplicable comeback, we’re told that we “have to feel for” Angel’s manager Gene Mauch. Why? Because he’s old? Because he spent the better part of his career as Gene Autry’s personal kicking-bag? Screw that noise, people. I’d waited my whole life for this moment.
Also, in the pre-”Dirty Water” era, the best the Fenway sound system could serve up during the post-game field rush was “Roll Out the Barrel.” But, hey, no song better signaled “party time” in the pre-Calvin Coolidge era. So I guess it’s just fine.
Anyway, this clip helped me through some of the less-then-stellar seasons of the late ’80s and early ’90s. And I still get chills hearing, “the Red Sox are trying to go from last rites to the World Series. And they do!”