The fans¬†atFenway Park were tearing at the buttons of Jim Lonborg's uniform. It was Oct.1, 1967, and the Red Sox hurler had just thrown a complete-game, 5-3 victoryover the Minnesota Twins on the final day of the season to clinch the Sox'first pennant in 21 years. Says Lonborg, 65, "I had to get back in theclubhouse to see what I had left on."
In Games 2 and 5against the Cardinals, Lonborg set a World Series record by giving up just fourcombined hits in back-to-back starts. But in the seventh game, on just twodays' rest, his right arm gave out, and Boston fell 7-2. Still, after finishingthe regular season 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 273 innings,Lonborg was the first Red Sox to win the Cy Young Award.
Of course, thosewere the days before free agency and multimillion-dollar contracts. So afterLonborg, who graduated from Stanford as a pre-med, hung up his cleats in 1979,his wife, Rosemary, suggested dentistry. Lonborg graduated from the dentalprogram at Tufts in 1983 and three years later opened his own practice inHanover, Mass., 10 miles from his home in Scituate. Among Lonborg's 3,000patients are his former catcher Jerry Moses and more than a few Sox fans forwhom '67 remains a beautiful dream. "Life as a successful ballplayer is thebest in the world," says Lonborg. "Dentistry is more grounded. It givesyou a great sense of community."
Lonborg got carried away after pitching the Red Sox to thepennant.