1975 World Series

Cincinnati Reds 4, Boston Red Sox 3

The 1975 World Series was a battle between the National League’s Cincinnati Reds and their potent "Big Red Machine" that combined power, speed and defense against the Boston Red Sox, who also packed a punch with clutch hitting for future Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice as well as reigning American League Rookie of the Year and MVP Fred Lynn. The Reds were at the top of the list in nearly every major offensive category leading the National League in runs scored (840) – 105 more than the second place Philadelphia Phillies, runs batted in (779) – nearly 100 more than Philadelphia once again, and stolen bases (168). They also finished second in the NL in batting average and put up an extraordinary .984 fielding percentage as a team. Cincinnati trounced the Los Angeles Dodgers by 20 games to win the National League West and then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates three games-to-none in the National League Championship Series. They too had a lineup of future HOFers in Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and reigning NL MVP Joe Morgan, as well as all-time hits leader Pete Rose. The BoSox paced the American League in batting average (275), runs (796), hits (1,500), doubles (284), RBI (756), on-base percentage (.344) and slugging percentage (.417). Rookie Fred Lynn, who put up one of the greatest seasons for a rookie in baseball history, anchored Boston’s potent lineup. Not only did he capture the Rookie of the Year and MVP, but he led the team in runs (103), hits (175), RBI (105) and batting average (.331), but finished second in home runs (21), tied for stolen bases (10) and won the Gold Globe for his position in the field. With an offense that featured HOFers like Fisk, Yaz and Rice, as well as All-Stars Cecil Cooper, Dwight Evans and Rico Petrocelli, Boston seemed prime to finally win their first World Series since 1918. The battled the Baltimore Orioles during the seasons and finally topped the O’s by 4.5 games before dispatching the three-time reigning World Series champion Oakland Athletics with a three-game sweep on the ALCS.

Game 1 proved to be the beginning of what would shape up to be one of the greatest World Series in history as 19-game winner Luis Tiant took the mound against Don Gullett, who won 15 games of his own. The two locked in a duel into the seventh when Boston exploded with six in the bottom of the seventh and Tiant shut the door with a five-hit complete game shutout. Game 2 started with the Red Sox taking the early lead in the first, but Cincy tied it in the top of the fourth. Boston took back the lead with a run in the sixth, but the Reds tacked on two in the top of the ninth to win 3-2 and tie the Series. Game 3 proved to be a highlight of the Series as the BoSox got home runs Fisk, Bernie Carbo and Dwight Evans and the Reds matched them with dingers from Bench, Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo. Then, in the bottom of the tenth, deadlocked at 5 apiece, the Reds grabbed a 6-5 victory after an apparent interference play at the plate with Ed Armbrister apparently interfering with red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk as he attempted to throw to second for the force out.

An so it went, as the Red Sox and Reds fought hard, as Tiant went the distance in Game 4 against Fred Norman to claim a 5-4 victory and his second complete game of the Series. The Reds bounced back in Game 5 as Gullett struck out seven and got the better of Reggie Cleveland while first baseman Tony Perez provided the offense with two home runs, his first two hits of the Series. Game 6 was a barnburner as the Red Sox jumped out front in the first as Lynn blasted a three-run shot to deep right centerfield. The Reds responded with a two-run triple from Ken Griffey and then an RBI single from Bench to tie the game in the fifth. Cincinnati took the lead with two in the seventh and added another in the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth, with two men on, pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo took Rawly Eastwick’s 2-2 pitch over the centerfield wall to tie the game. In the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, Reds pitching quashed a potential threat that could have ended the game in regulation. However, the game went to extra innings. In the top of the eleventh, Dwight Evans made a tremendous catch near the Pesky pole off the bat of Joe Morgan and doubled up Ken Griffey help extend the game.

In the bottom of the twelfth, history was made with one of the greatest moments ever as Carlton Fisk took Pat Darcy’s 1-0 pitch down the left field line. The ball appeared to be hooking foul, but Fisk seemed to will it into fair territory waving at the ball as he side-stepped up the first base line as the ball caromed off the left field foul pole for a home run to tie the Series at three apiece. The video, which was inadvertently captured by the NBC cameraman, has become one of the most iconic moments in the history of Major League Baseball and is inevitably among any World Series highlight reel. Heading into Game 7 at Fenway, the Red Sox now had the momentum and had their first World Series title in 57 years at their fingertips. But the Reds had other plans. Boston’s Bill Lee gave them seven solid innings, shutting out the Reds through five innings and allowing the only three runs on seven hits, but Cincinnati’s Don Gullet also only allowed three runs on four hits in four innings while striking out five. In the sixth inning, with Tony Perez at the plate, Lee threw the famed Eephus pitch, a slow lobbing pitch, attempting to dupe the Reds first baseman, but Perez proceeded to hit it into the parking lot behind the Green Monster for a two-run homer. In the top of the ninth, with Griffey on third base, Joe Morgan hit a bloop single to centerfield to score Griffey from third and take the lead. Reds reliever Will McEnaney finished it off in the bottom of the ninth getting Yastrzemski to fly out to end the Series. ESPN ranked the 1975 World Series as the second greatest in history. This was the Cincinnati Reds third World Series title and first since 1940. With ten hits and five walks, batting .370 for the Series, Pete Rose was named the World Series MVP.