20 April 1912 – On this day one hundred years ago, the Boston Red Sox played their first game at Fenway Park, defeating the New York Highlanders (later to be named the Yankees) 7-6 in 11 innings. It is often noted that the opening was overshadowed in Boston by a much bigger news story at the time: the recent sinking of the RMS Titanic, a British passenger ship, in the North Atlantic Ocean five days earlier.
22 October 1883 – On this day one hundred twenty-five years ago, former Boston Red Sox player-manager William Francis Carrigan, better known as Bill Carrigan or “Rough” Carrigan, is born in Lewiston, ME. Carrigan spent ten years in professional baseball as a catcher for Boston between 1906 and 1916; in that span, he caught three no-hitters and played for three world championship teams, two of which he managed. He is the only manager in franchise history to lead Boston teams to back-to-back world championships and the only manager other than current skipper Terry Francona to win more than one World Series at the helm of the Red Sox.
Carrigan started his career as a platoon catcher for Boston in July of 1906 and caught a career-high 110 games in 1910. Never an offensive threat, he collected just over 500 hits and batted only .257 in his career. Midway through the 1913 season, he was asked to replace Jack Stahl as manager of the then-defending world champion Red Sox after it was turned down by Fielder Jones, who had guided the 1906 Chicago White Sox to a World Series title; like his predecessor, Carrigan assumed his position as player-manager. After a second-place finish in his first full season at the helm in 1914, he guided the team to a 101-50 record and the American League pennant before leading his team to a 4-1 World Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The following season, his team finished 91-63 and won its second straight World Series title over the Brooklyn Robins. Following that season, he retired from baseball, returned to his hometown of Lewiston, and began a second career in the banking business. In 538 games, he had compiled a 322-216 record as manager for a .599 winning percentage.
Ten years later, the Red Sox convinced Carrigan to manage the club once again, but fortunes had changed dramatically at that point for the once-proud club; the franchise had not enjoyed a winning season since its last championship in 1918 and the celebrated skipper could do nothing to reverse its fortunes given the lack of talent at his disposal. Three straight seasons that averaged 95 losses convinced Carrigan to permanently retire from baseball after the 1929 season, and he returned to Lewiston to spend the rest of his life, passing away in 1969 at the age of 85. In 2004, the Red Sox posthumously honored the former manager with induction into the team’s Hall of Fame.
With Jonathan Papelbon blowing a 95 MPH fastball past pinch-hitter Seth Smith on a 2-2 count, the Boston Red Sox won Game Four of the 2007 World Series over the Colorado Rockies 4-3 and earned its second World Series title in four years. Third baseman Mike Lowell, who batted .400 with a home run and four RBI in the Fall Classic, was named series MVP, less than two years after coming to Boston as part of the deal that brought American League Championship Series MVP Josh Beckett to the club.
Boston only trailed for three innings in the entire series and, after taking Games One and Two at Fenway Park by scores of 13-1 and 2-1, the switch to the high altitude at Coors Field seemed to make little difference to the Red Sox, who won Game Three by a score of 10-5 before closing out the series Sunday night in gritty fashion. Rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who started all four games of the series after starting the last two of the ALCS, got Boston on the board first with a double followed one out later by a David Ortiz RBI single on the drawn-in infield. Boston got another run in the fifth on an RBI single by catcher Jason Varitek as Lowell slid home ahead of the tag, and the club got two more runs on solo home runs by Lowell and Bobby Kielty in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Colorado made it close with a solo home run by right fielder Brad Hawpe in the seventh and a two-run shot by third baseman Garrett Atkins in the eighth with one out, but Papelbon recorded the last five outs for his third save of the series.
The Sox have now won eight straight World Series games dating back to its Fall Classic sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, when Boston won its first title since 1918, a span of 86 years. It marks the seventh World Championship in franchise history, and the Sox are the first club to win two titles in the 21st century as it ends a seven-year streak of seven different teams winning the title, which began in 2000 with the New York Yankees.
Down three games to one against Cleveland, the Boston Red Sox stormed back by outscoring the Indians 30-5 over the last three games of the series to win the American League Championship in seven games and give the club its second AL pennant in four years. Series MVP and Red Sox ace pitcher Josh Beckett got the comeback started last Thursday, going eight strong and giving up just one run on five hits while striking out 11, while first baseman Kevin Youkilis opened the game with a solo home run and drove home two more runs in an impressive 7-1 win. Then, in Game Six, outfielder J.D. Drew redeemed himself from a sub-par first season in Boston by hitting a crowd-pleasing grand slam with two outs in the opening frame; the Red Sox never looked back, scoring seven runs off Fuasto Carmona in two-plus innings of work to easily win 12-2 and even the series at three games each.
In the deciding Game Seven Sunday night, Boston took a quick 3-0 lead after three but led by just one run in the seventh. Cleveland appeared to have a shot at tying the score with runners at first and third with one out but, after speedy Indians outfielder Kenny Loften was held by third-base coach Joel Skinner on what seemed like a guaranteed run-producing single by Franklin Gutierrez, Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima, in relief of start Daisuke Matsuzaka, got third baseman Casey Blake to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat. Rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia then hit a two-run shot off reliever Rafael Betancourt in the bottom of the frame and helped blow the game open in the eighth with a bases-clearing double as the Red Sox took the final game by a score of 11-2. Boston now faces the National League champion Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series, beginning with Game One Wednesday night at Fenway Park, with a shot at winning its second title in four years after going 86 years between championships.