Ellsbury Returns To Fenway

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

The evening of May 20, 1986 was a very historic night in my life. It was the very first time I walked into the hallowed ground that is Fenway Park. I took Amtrak from New York to Boston and went to that night's game, which pitted the Red Sox against the visiting Minnesota Twins. I'll never forget walking down the ramp and into the park and seeing the green grass of the field and The Green Monster up close for the very first time. It was a beautiful night and I sat in the upper level seats between home and first base. There was a great pitching matchup that night, as Roger Clemens, who had his historic 20 strikeout game just three weeks earlier, was facing Frank Viola.

That sounds like it would be a low-scoring game right? Wrong.

The first hitter I ever saw bat at Fenway was none other than a future Hall of Famer: Kirby Puckett. (He was the Twins leadoff hitter back then, just his third season.) He flied out to right. The Red Sox came up in the bottom of the inning and the first six men who faced Viola all scored, and he was pulled without getting even one out. The Red Sox led 9-2 after three innings, but Clemens labored, giving up homers to Gary Gaetti and Greg Gagne, and he gave up five runs in seven innings.

My most everlasting memories of the game were the booing the Red Sox fans gave to Bob Stanley in the eighth, as he was really struggling as a closer then. He promptly gave up another homer to Gaetti, and the crowd REALLY let him have it. The score was 15-7 in the bottom of the eighth when Wade Boggs came up with the bases loaded and two outs. He was 5-for-5 and need another hit to tie the record for hits in a nine-inning game. He promptly hit a ball right through first baseman Mickey Hatcher's legs that scored two runs, and the official scorer ruled it an error (as he should have). The Fenway faithful booed loudly, but the Red Sox went on to win, 17-7.

(Bob Stanley and a ball going through the first baseman's legs. They would be featured prominently in a game later that October.)

A few other interesting notes: Kirby Puckett left the game in the eighth, and was replaced by none other than future Oakland A's GM and supergenius Billy Beane. Bill Buckner did not play, and Dave Stapleton played the whole game at first, and future Fox analyst and resident knucklehead Steve "Psycho" Lyons played center for the Red Sox.

When I got back to my hotel after the game, I called my dad back in Brooklyn to tell him all about the night. I had to start off this way: "I think I now have some idea what it was like to see a game at Ebbets Field."

I can't believe it's been twenty years since my visit to Fenway Park. I honestly don't know where the time has gone.

Here is the complete boxscore of that historic night, courtesy of Retrosheet:

Boston Red Sox 17, Minnesota Twins 7
Game Played on Tuesday, May 20, 1986 (N) at Fenway Park

MIN A 0 0 2 1 0 1 1 2 0 - 7 11 5
BOS A 6 1 2 0 0 4 4 0 x - 17 20 1

BATTING
Minnesota Twins
AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Puckett cf 4 0 1 2 0 0 0 0
Beane cf 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bush lf 5 0 0 0 0 2 2 0
Hrbek1b 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
Hatcher 1b 3 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Brunansky rf 4 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
Smalley dh 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Woods ph,dh 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gaetti 3b 4 3 3 2 0 0 1 2
Lombardozzi 2b 4 1 1 0 0 2 1 2
Salas c 3 1 2 2 0 0 5 0
Laudner c 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gagne ss 4 2 3 1 0 0 0 3
Totals 38 7 11 7 0 4 24 9

FIELDING -
E: Puckett (1), Bush (1), Hatcher (2), Gaetti (7), Salas (4).
PB: Salas (3).
BATTING -
2B: Hrbek (11,off Clemens); Gaetti (8,off Clemens).
3B: Lombardozzi (1,off Stanley).
HR: Gaetti 2 (11,6th inning off Clemens 0 on 1 out,8th inning off Stanley 0
on 1 out); Gagne (3,7th inning off Clemens 0 on 0 out).
SF: Salas (2,off Stanley).
Team LOB: 5.

Boston Red Sox

AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Barrett 2b 5 1 2 1 1 0 1 5
Boggs 3b 6 3 5 3 0 0 1 0
Romero pr,3b 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Stapleton 1b 5 1 1 0 1 3 11 1
Rice lf 5 2 2 1 0 1 1 0
Stenhouse lf 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Baylor dh 5 3 2 3 1 0 0 0
Armas rf 6 2 4 2 0 1 2 0
Quinones ss 4 1 0 1 1 0 2 4
Lyons cf 5 1 1 1 0 1 4 0
Sullivan c 4 3 3 2 0 0 4 0
Totals 46 17 20 14 4 6 27 11
FIELDING -
E: Quinones (1).
BATTING -
2B: Barrett (11,off Viola); Baylor (4,off Viola); Armas (4,off Viola); Stapleton
(1,off Jackson); Boggs (15,off Jackson).
HBP: Sullivan (2,by Agosto).
Team LOB: 10.

PITCHING
Minnesota Twins
IP H R ER BB SO HR
Viola L(4-4) 0 5 6 6 1 0 0
Jackson 2.2 6 3 2 0 2 0
Atherton 3 2 2 2 2 3 0
Agosto 1 6 6 5 1 0 0
Davis 1.1 1 0 0 0 1 0
Totals 8 20 17 15 4 6 0

Boston Red Sox
IP H R ER BB SO HR
Clemens W(7-0) 7 9 5 5 0 4 2
Stanley 2 2 2 2 0 0 1
Totals 9 11 7 7 0 4 3

Viola faced 6 batters in the 1st inning
WP: Clemens (5).
HBP: Agosto (2,Sullivan).
Umpires: Jim McKean, Al Clark, John Shulock, Dan Morrison
Time of Game: 3:16 Attendance: 20880

5 comments:

Michael Leggett said...

No sellouts then!

& NO "FOX Saturday Baseball";

ONLY 20K @ Fenway?

Michael Leggett said...

The 40th Anniversary of My 1st MLB Game will be @ Fenway on 9/2/06.

That'll be 217.4 Miles from Shea Stadium.

I got the ticket 4 Months ahead, as that Game with Toronto is already sold out.

Fascinating what has taken place in 20 Years!

Michael Leggett said...

20880!

Even in the Era Of The Rocket, one could still get a game day ticket.

The Omnipotent Q said...

That was back in the days when you could walk up to the box office before the game and still get a good seat. I bought my tickets through Ticketron at Tower Records a few days in advance.

When Clemens struck out 20 only three weeks earlier, only 13,000 were in the park that night....

Michael Leggett said...

Someone hacked your message about Bonds on Bornintoit.

I was tacken back by the hacked in message.