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October 04, 2009

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EXCERPT | Oct. 9, 1967

Dream On

Impossible as it seemed, the Red Sox were winners

After eight straight losing seasons Boston made a frenzied run in a pennant race that, as William Leggett writes, came down to the final day.

Cal Ermer, the gray-haired manager of the Twins, stood behind the batting cage at Boston's Fenway Park last Sunday, watching his team take batting practice before what turned out to be the vital game of the longest, daffiest and most desperate American League pennant race in history. "In bullfighting," Ermer said, "I understand that the moment of truth comes around 4 in the afternoon. I have a feeling it will come a lot earlier today."

Not really. It was 3:21 p.m. when the truth came out. In the ensuing 24 minutes the city of Boston went wild as the Red Sox scored five runs to beat Minnesota 5--3 and win their first pennant since 1946. In keeping with the nature of the race, Boston's victory could not be fully savored until nearly four hours later when Bobby Knoop of the California Angels picked up a ground ball 700 miles west at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and turned it into a double play. That knocked out the Tigers, who until then had a chance to tie.

The Red Sox take their place with the 1914 Braves and the 1951 Giants as the most improbable pennant winners in baseball's long and wonderfully colored history. Since July people in New England—and almost everywhere in the U.S., except Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota—had been talking about the Red Sox and their chances of winning as "the impossible dream." Before the last two games against Minnesota, a wire was pinned on a bulletin board in Boston's clubhouse. It read: WE ASK NOTHING, BUT OUR HOPES ARE HIGH. GODSPEED.

The Red Sox lost the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals.

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From Joe Posnanski's column on Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers' Hall of Fame radio announcer from 1960--2002, who has inoperable cancer:

Few around sports have ever been as loved as Harwell. Ernie, who is 91, said that maybe it was because his voice had always been around, day after day, year after year, barbecue after barbecue, booming through summer thunderstorms. "It's just there," he said of his own voice on the radio. "You can listen to it, if you want. Or you can be doing something else, and it just sort of drifts into your psyche."

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PHOTOPhotograph by HERB SCHARFMANAT LAST Leftfielder Carl Yastrzemski, shortstop Rico Petrocelli and pitcher Jim Lonborg (number 16) were Series-bound for the first time. PHOTORICH CLARKSON (SIMS) PHOTOWALTER IOOSS JR. (STRAWBERRY) PHOTOROBERT BECK (WOODS) PHOTOREBECCA COOK/REUTERS (HARWELL) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (DICKSON) PHOTODARREN CALABRESE/THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP (KESSEL) PHOTOLANE STEWART (JORDAN) PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (LEWIS) PHOTOROD MAR (LOCKER) PHOTOJOHN IACONO (SANCHEZ) PHOTO

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