Game 6 Ė From the City by the Bay
It is October 25, 1986. Tonight is the biggest night in a Red Sox fanís life. Tonight
the Sox face the Mets with a 3-2 lead in the World Series with Roger Clemens on the
mound. I find myself in San Francisco. Iíd signed up for a conference at Apple Computer
months before, never dreaming Iíd be away from Boston while my beloved Sox attempt to win
their first World Series in 68 years. Here I am in a city where life is going on
normally. Iím staying with two friends who arenít even baseball fans. Theyíd invited me
to a party where there was no television, and I politely decline. Instead, I wander out
at about 5:00 PM to seek out a bar where the game would be on. Iím sure Iíll meet up
with some transplanted New Englanders. Maybe Iíd meet some New Yorkers, too.
I find some hole in the wall, park myself at the bar in front of the TV, and have a
couple of beers as the Sox jump out to a 2-0 lead. I remember feeling frustrated, as
Rice couldnít score from 2nd on a double. 2-0 with Clemens was ok but not nearly
enough. I speak to anyone in the bar who is interested. There are only a few fans
there. It is 6:00 PM on a very warm October Saturday. Californians have better things
to do. Back east, where it is 9:00 and a chill was in the air, the game is everything
that matters tonight. In California, itís just another night.
Itís a pitcherís duel, as the Mets tie it, then the Sox go ahead 3-2 in the eighth. I
watch with some anxiety as they bring up Mike Greenwell to hit for Clemens, who comes out
of the game with a blister. That means Schiraldi no doubt. I have no idea the
controversy that would later persist. Ė did Clemens ask out of the game or did MacNamara
take him out. Weíll never know the truth. In any case, Schiraldi enters with that
frightened baby face, and I along with all of Red Sox nation watch in fear. Calvin, can
you give us a measly 6 outs? Thatís all we ask. No you canít. Itís not to be. The
tying run is in before you know it.
On to the 9th we go. The bar is filling up now. I meet a man from Sausalito. His
question to me is ďHow much money did you bet on the game? I bet $500.Ē ďNOTHING!Ē I
answer. ďThis isnít about money. This is life or death! If the Sox win this game, my
life will be fulfilled. Canít you understand that?Ē The Mets get two runners on
quickly. Iím chewing my nails to the bone. The guy from Sausalito tells me not to
worry. The Sox will come around. Howard Johnson botches a bunt situation, and the Mets
miraculously are kept off the board. Phew!
Itís the top of the 10th now. The bar is packed. Everyone is glued to the game and
screaming on every pitch. I think there are more Sox fans there Ďcause everyone wants to
see the Sox win after going hungry for 68 years. Marginal rookie Rick Aguilara (later a
premier stopper) comes in to pitch, and up comes Dave Henderson. His miraculous homer
defeated the Angels just two weeks ago. Crack! He hits one deep and, oh my God, itís
gone!! I can see it. The Sox are going to win the World Series. Iím screaming. The
whole place is screaming. The guy from Sausalito is there saying ďSee, I told you not to
worry.Ē Then Boggs doubles and Barrett singles and weíve got an insurance run. We canít
lose now. In my mind, Iím making plans to go to the rally in Boston on Wednesday. Iím
filled with an overwhelming joy like no other. The Sox fans are whooping it up. I am
high-fiving everyone I can see. I donít know a soul in this bar, but I feel like Iíve
shared a life experience with these people.
Now itís on to the bottom the 10th with the score 5-3. Schiraldi gets two quick outs,
and Sox fans are screaming. This is really happening. Thereís just one more out to go.
Iím minutes, perhaps seconds away from a moment that Iíll treasure forever. Gary Carter
singles. Kevin Mitchell singles. Ok, itís not going to be easy, but itís still well in
hand. Sox fans are quieting down now. It seems that Mets fans have suddenly shown up
and are making a lot of noise. Ray Knight is up, and heís quickly down 0-2. He looks
nervous. Címon. Get that one more strike and letís celebrate. Somehow, by sheer grit,
amidst all of the tension, Knight pokes a soft liner into center, scoring a run and
sending Mitchell to 3rd. Mets fans are revving it up now. Schiraldi canít shut the
door. Iím back to being nervous. MacNamara is too, and he takes out Schiraldi and
brings in Stanley to hopefully punch out Mookie Wilson and give the Sox the victory.
Weíve still got it. Weíve still got a 1 run lead and 1 more out. Then it happens. Itís
a pitch too far inside. Looks like it could be handled, but it goes off of Gedmanís
glove. I come crashing down to earth. My head is in a vice grip from all of the noise
from the Mets fans. Mitchell lumbers in with the tying run. Our precious two run lead
is gone. Wild pitch, they call. Are you kidding? Gedman should have handled it. Now
weíll have to wait until the next inning. But I know we can score another run. Just get
this last out, and weíll try our luck against Mets relievers.
The moment that follows is one that will live in infamy. To me, it is just the logical
conclusion of a strange inning. The game was tied, so there was no longer victory in the
grasp. But history would prove this to be a moment that would bring Sox fans to a point
of oblivion known by no one else. I can still hear Vin Sculley ringing in my ears.
ďLittle roller, along 1st, BEHIND THE BAG, IT GETS BY BUCKNER! HERE COMES KNIGHT
AND THE METS WIN IT!!Ē
The noise is deafening. Every Met fan in the world must have flown in directly from New
York to this little bar to torture me at that moment. I scream in despair, but no one
can hear. I know no one. I have no one to console me. There is no one to pat me on the
back. There is no one to hug. Iím alone. I canít remember a lower point in my life
before or since.
I walk out of the bar, away from the still ringing noise of the celebrating Mets fans. I
walk 8 blocks in the wrong direction before I realize I have to pull it together. I have
to go back to the party where my friends are, Ďcause I have nowhere else to go. After
about an hour of wandering, I finally reach the party, where Californians are having a
nice little get together. They ask ďWhy so sad? The Sox lost a series game? Are you
from Boston? Sorry to hear it. Who is pitching in game 7?Ē I couldnít bear it. Iím
thinking, ďThis was no time to be mellow! This is a disaster of epic proportions. I was
on the brink, and I may never get there again!Ē
The rest is history. I didnít sleep that night. Most Sox fans fell sleepless that
night. I heard there was quite a bit of damaged furniture back east that night. Even
though a night of rain gives us a start for Bruce Hurst in game 7, itís a foregone
conclusion. The Red Sox had brought their fans to the edge of a mountaintop, and dropped
us off a cliff. Yes, Cub fans have gone longer. Cardinal fans were robbed by an
umpireís call. But fans of the Boston Red Sox know pain like no other fans. Nothing
short of a World Series win will ever be satisfying after coming so close. The one
saving grace for Sox fans is weíve got each other. Every Sox fan old enough can remember
exactly where they were when the ball went through Bucknerís legs. And every Sox fan
lives to see the day where we get that 3rd out and celebrate a World Series victory.