25 June 1988 – On this day twenty years ago, a solid, if uneventful, 10-3 Boston win over Baltimore at Fenway Park begins a home winning streak that would stretch into August, a span of 24 games that saw the beginnings of “Morgan Magic.” After losing the first game of a three-game set to the Orioles, which puts them at 34-34 and fifth in the American League East, the Red Sox win the next five by a combined score of 40-11 over Baltimore and Cleveland. However, following a 4-8 road trip leading to the All-Star break that puts them at 43-42 and nine games out of first place, management decides that they have had enough. John McNamara, the 1986 American League Manager of the Year who had led that Red Sox squad to the World Series, is fired and replaced by interim manager “Walpole” Joe Morgan.
Morgan had managed Boston’s AAA club in Pawtucket for nine seasons between 1974 and 1982, then served two years as a scout before being brought on as a coach for Boston in 1985; this was to be his first and only major league managing position. Boston’s post-All-Star break schedule starts off with eleven games at home; the Sox win in Morgan’s debut, 3-1 over Kansas City, and then proceeded to come out on top night after night at Fenway. When the homestand ends, Boston has moved into third place and sits just 1-1/2 games out of first place; the Sox have also strung together 16 straight wins in front of the home crowd. Boston then takes the first game of a quick road trip to Texas before a 9-8 loss to the Rangers end the 12-game win streak for the Sox.
The defeat does nothing to slow down the Red Sox or Morgan, who has the interim tag removed by the front office. Taking two-of-three against Texas, Boston returns home and wins six straight to improve to 19-1 under its new manager; these efforts on the field also moves the club into a tie for first place with Detroit while the Fenway faithful have enjoyed 22 straight wins at home. Morgan Magic becomes synonymous with the resurgence of a team who seemed out of the race for the postseason only one month earlier.
Back on the road, Boston slips for the first time under Morgan with seven losses in nine games, including four straight in Detroit to start the trip, but the Red Sox exact revenge a week later, opening a three-game home series with a 9-4 win over the Tigers. The next day, 13 August, Boston thumps its American League East rival by a score of 16-4, and the result gives the Red Sox an unprecedented 24-game winning streak. Though Boston’s stretch of luck ends the next day with an 18-6 loss in the series finale, the Red Sox go on to take the American League East title for the second time in three years.