Most Brandeis undergraduates have known only a successful Red Sox team since they began following baseball. Over the past 15 years, the Red Sox have been a highly successful team — not quite in the rarefied air of New England’s beloved Patriots, but not far off. However, our parents and grandparents who followed Boston baseball prior to our lifetime have known some dark times. I will review some of the bad times, some of the ugly times and finish with some of the good times, staying consistent with chronology and ending the article on a pleasant note.

The Bad 

The Red Sox, needing money, sold the rights to Babe Ruth (The Bambino), to the New York Yankees in 1920 for $125,000. Ruth, considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time, had helped the Sox win the 1918 World Series. For the next 84 years (until 2004) after letting Ruth go, the Red Sox did not win another World Series. In that 84-year span, the Yankees won 26 World Series Championships. The “Curse of  the Bambino,” explained by, further explains the suffering of Red Sox fans during this time period.

The Ugly 

Three events stand out in the midst of the “Curse.” Ugly number one: On July 19, 1978, the Red Sox held a 14-game lead in the standings over their archrivals, the New York Yankees. The Red Sox blew the lead and had to play the Yankees in a one-game playoff to decide the winner of the division. On a sunny fall day at Fenway, Bucky Dent, not known as a power hitter, hit a home run late in the game to lead the Yankees to the win and ultimately to the World Series Championship. Ugly number two: In the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox held a 3–2 game lead in the best-of-seven series against the New York Mets. In the bottom of the 10th, the Red Sox held a two-run lead, and reaching the elusive World Series Championship seemed inevitable. However, a ground ball went through the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner, a mistake one would be more likely  to see on a Little League field, allowing the Mets to win the game and go on to the World Series Championship, as explained by a [Nov. 2016] foxsports  article. Ugly number three: In game seven of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, the Sox had a 5–2 lead in the eighth inning with their ace, pitcher Pedro Martinez, on the mound. Again, victory was a high likeleyhood for the Red Sox. Despite a high pitch count, manager Grady Little kept Martinez in the game, and the Yankees managed to tie the game. In the bottom of 11th, current Yankee manager and then Yankee third baseman Aaron Boone hit a game-winning home run, and loyal Sox fans must have thought the “Curse” would never end, according to a [2014] yanksgoyard  article.

The Good 

The “Curse” was finally and dramatically broken in the 2004 ALCS. The Yankees had a 3–0 lead in the series and had demolished the Sox 19–8 in game three. Trailing 4–3 in the bottom of the ninth inning at Fenway and facing pitcher Mariano “The Sandman” Rivera, the Yankees’ superstar “closer,” the Red Sox managed to tie the game and win in extra innings. They then went on to beat the hated Yankees three more times straight to win the ALCS and then the World Series. The Sox not only ended  the curse, but did it in a way no other Major League baseball team has ever done, overcoming a 3–0 deficit in the playoffs. This feat has given momentum to a 15-year period of good fortune for the Sox. Since 2004 the Sox have won four World Series, while the Yankees have won only once.


Take-Home Message 

After a World Series win in 2018 and a dominating 108–54 record, there is every reason to believe that good times for the Sox and their fans will be the norm for the foreseeable future.