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By Zach Giordano
| September 12, 2017
If one year can be pointed to when Boston became a ball cap-wearing city—morning, noon, and night—it has to be 1967. It was a time when Little League was exploding in popularity, when caps were replacing fedoras as the headgear of choice, and when the Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season turned anybody and everybody into baseball fans.
So big was the craze that even a small, 20-year old apparel company started by a couple of Italian immigrants was able to capitalize on the moment by opening a souvenir store right on Yawkey Way in the shadow of Fenway Park. “We made a few dollars—enough to buy this building,” Arthur D’Angelo, the founder of ’47, has said. “Otherwise, we’d have never had that kind of money.”
This year, fifty years after that landmark season, Sox fans have relived their most memorable games, players, and moments. In response to the first story in a Boston Globe series about that summer, fans found themselves recalling in vivid detail what life was like as the 1967 season unfolded, and they shared their greatest memories in comments that appeared with the article, and across social media. Here you can read, and listen to, a few of the best stories that fans had to tell.
Wanda Fischer, Weymouth
Listen to Wanda recount her memories of 1967:
I started following the Red Sox when I was not quite eight years old, in 1956. My father didn’t like baseball, my mother didn’t like baseball, my grandfather didn’t like baseball, but somehow I became hooked, which, for an eight-year-old girl in the 1950s was quite unusual.
In September 1965, when there were only about maybe 1,000 of us, I was in the bleachers. It cost $1, no reserved seats. It was 75 cents for right field grandstand seats if you were under 18, and $3 for box seats. We got to know the ushers, and if the park was empty, they would let
us sit in the empty boxes after the seventh inning. If we were there for batting practice, we often got to talk to players from the other teams. I had the opportunity to see Satchel Paige warm up in the bullpen, when Charlie Finley brought him up as a publicity stunt. He didn’t pitch in that game, but he did the next night, when he struck out Yaz!Curt Gowdy taught me how to score a baseball game. He was cruising around the stands one day during batting practice. I was filling out my scorecard, and he asked me if I knew how to do it “the way we do it in the booth.” I said I didn’t. He sat down with me and showed me, explaining the numbers that go with each position. I think I was 15. I still keep score at every game, the way Curt taught me.
In 1967, I remember going to the Patriots’ Day doubleheader, rainy and wet as it was. I had just finished my freshman year at Boston University; I graduated from Weymouth High School in 1966. We always bundled up so much that it was almost hard to fit into the Fenway seats. My cousin and I went just about every year. Seats were easy to get. When John Kiley played the organ, the sounds bounced off the park as if we were in the Grand Canyon.
I wanted to be a sportswriter back then. One night, I was walking by myself after a game toward Kenmore Square. I recognized Rick Reichardt of the Angels, who was also walking toward Kenmore. I struck up a conversation with him about baseball, and I told him that I wanted to be a sportswriter. He was very nice, but cautioned me that there would be many obstacles for me to overcome, due to the fact that I was a woman. I thanked him. I went home, wrote him a letter, and he responded something to the effect of, “You seem to be a very nice girl. Think twice about going into sportswriting as a career.”
Just today, prior to reading the Globe piece, I had pulled out some photos of old Fenway Park, along with pictures of Tony C., Dalton Jones, and Radatz. Back then, players from both teams would meet the fans after the games and would sign autographs for a while. The only team that wouldn’t accommodate Boston fans was the Yankees. My little autograph book (remember those?) wouldn’t mean anything to anyone except me. I have some great autographs from other teams as well (e.g., Al Kaline, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, etc.), but my favorites from the 1960s—Tony C., Dalton Jones, Radatz, Bill Monbouquette, Rico, Bob Tillman and more—they’re all in my little red autograph book. The players made eye contact with us then; they knew how much we loved them. They knew we weren’t going to sell their signatures.They were signing just for us.
And I still have my membership card to the Tony C. Fan Club.
When Red Sox “fans” get upset with losses these days, I tell them I’ve seen it all, and that they shouldn’t get upset by setbacks. Yes, I was overjoyed when they won the WS in 2004, and again in 2007 and 2013. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences as a young fan in the 1960s with my Red Sox for anything. Not for anything.
______________________________Wanda Fischer has recently written a novel about three baseball players trying to make it into the majors. More than fifty years after her conversation with Rick Reichardt, she has finally realized her dream of
being a sportswriter. The novel is due in November.
Globe commenter “long-gone-john”
The transistor radio was my tether to the ’67 Sox. From Opening Day, I had it strapped to the handlebar of my bicycle every game day, unless I was in school (I was merely 12 years old). Shortly before the season started, I told my dad the Sox were going to win the pennant, and he simply said, “Really?”
Part of my bravado was simply being 12, but I did sense the ’67 team was somehow different, from Williams’ bold proclamation to some glimmer of hope from watching the ’66 team, when young guys like Boomer and Joe Foy became starters, and Reggie Smith and Mike Andrews arrived as September call ups.
And then there was Yaz, already my baseball hero, mostly because he hit left handed. I’m a southpaw, too (Yes, I know Yaz threw righty, but I was willing to overlook that).
Bobby D’Angelo, co-owner of ’47,Listen to Bobby tell his own funny story about the 1967 season, involving a Cadillac license plate and one giant misunderstanding:
Globe commenter “honcho13”
I graduated from high school in June ’67 and was headed to Navy boot camp in November. One of my last “civilian acts” was to visit a few buddies who were freshmen at UMass Amherst. I thumbed out there on Friday, the first day of the last weekend of the ’67 baseball season.
I decided to take the Greyhound bus back. One guy had a little portable radio and we were listening to the game on the trip to Park Square. When the Red Sox won, there was a lot of cheering and yelling! Then, we heard the Twins and Tigers had lost and the Sox were pennant champs! After getting off the bus, I walked to North Station. As I started to cross the Common, I could hear all this commotion. A large crowd was moving toward the State House chanting: “We’re number one!” and “Go, Sox, go!” So, I followed along.
Arriving at the capitol building, two guys got up on the wall and continued to lead the chants. After a half hour or so, someone said, “Let’s go to Kenmore Square!” We walked down to Commonwealth Ave and hung a right. By now we had a police escort and more and more people were joining all the time. There were probably 5,000 marchers with us by the time we hit Kenmore Square, which was packed with—I’m just guessing—100,000 people. Saying the atmosphere was electric doesn’t even begin to cover it. It was joyous beyond belief and one of the great memories of my youth!
Greg Ambrose, Lynn
In 1967, I had just finished my sophomore year at Northeastern. I was still 18 at the start of that school year and, like most kids that age, was pretty self absorbed, spending my time worrying about using my dad’s car (one car family back in those days) and how I was going to meet members of the opposite sex. However, going to school in Boston, despite being a commuter student from Lynn, I started to soak up some of the things I was exposed to both in the classroom and outside of it. I was a political science major and was inclined to follow current events anyway, but the continued quest for civil rights, combined with the escalation of the war in Vietnam increasingly made me question what we were doing as a country. My parents were never shrinking violets and neither was I. But when I started speaking out and, at the same time, add in the music I was listening too, well let’s say there was a bit of discord in the house.
Listen to Greg recount his memories of 1967:
As for the Sox in all this, they were in a parallel universe that summer and really contributed little, if anything, to how my world view was being shaped. However, the fact that my parents were fans and that, after several years of mediocrity, the Sox were doing unexpectedly well, it gave me and my parents something else to focus on besides the burning embers of my political awakening.
I was always a diehard fan of the Red Sox, going back to 1956 when I was eight years old. My dad used to take me to a few games every year. I saw Ted Williams several times, although my favorite player back then was Frank Malzone.
Baseball was my favorite sport so, of course, the Sox were my favorite team. But, boy, were they miserable when I was a kid. When you are eight and they get progressively worse ever year through junior high, high school, and into college, it’s tough to keep the faith. In ’67, when they started winning, they quickly got my attention. I’d say that like much of my generation, 1967 reawakened my love of the Sox and, frankly, it’s never left me since then. My wife Karen and I moved to Boston in the fall of 1972 and the bleachers of Fenway became the center of our summer social life.
I am fortunate that my wife Karen is as big a fan as I am. Her dad, who would take her to games a few times a year despite the fact that they lived in North Conway, NH, stoked her passion. You could say it was inevitable that our paths crossed, even though we didn’t meet until the fall of 1970. You see, my dad and I went to the next to last regular season game in ’67 while she and her dad were at the last game, the pennant winning game, the following day. What a weekend!
The ’67 roster had a lot of guys you could glom onto. Obviously Yaz because he was so other-worldly that year. Lonborg was such a tough dude on the mound. Rico lived in Lynn where the family babysitter was my sister’s best friend. But my favorite was Tony Conigliaro. Although he grew up in Revere (not Swampscott as many continue to write) he played his high school ball in Lynn at St. Mary’s high school, which was right across the street from my high school, Lynn Classical. He was three years older than me, but, like a lot of my friends, we had a kinship with him even though we didn’t know him. When he hit a homer in his first at bat in Fenway, the deal was sealed for me. The guy had it all: good looks, home runs, movie star dates, cutting records. Everything, that is, until he got beaned.
Tony C’s beaning by Jack Hamilton in August of that year has always stuck with me, mostly because it robbed the guy of a great career. Who knows for sure, but he was surely on his way. Of course there are other memories. Billy Rohr’s one-hitter against the Yanks, Jose Tartabull throwing out Ken Berry at the plate in Chicago, the 10 game road winning streak in July that resulted in 10,000 fans meeting the team plane at Logan and, of course, Yaz in total clutch mode the whole month of September.
But one of my lasting memories came in a twi-night doubleheader in June against the White Sox. Eddie Stanky was their manager and he was an old school, irascible son of a gun who, the day before the weekend series started, declared that Carl Yastrzemski was an “all star from the neck down,” implying that he may have physical talents but he wasn’t smart enough to be an all star. Well Sox fans didn’t take kindly to Stanky’s remark and, that night, they booed him every time he stuck his head out of the dugout. That is, until midway through the first game when he came out to take out his pitcher. As he returned to the dugout, boos raining down, he must have said something because the next thing you saw was trash being thrown at him as he started to walk down the dugout steps. My dad, who watched the scene on TV, didn’t think much of it. I thought it showed the passion of the fans.
I’ve talked to many about the Sox and ’67 and although most did not develop the lasting passion that I did, we agree that when you’re young as we were back then, the fact is that the Sox were part of the whole scene that summer, a great time to be young, alive, and in Boston!
Even after 50 years, the summer 1967 still brings about some of the most cherished memories from many of the most fervent Red Sox fans. The impact of this season kicked off an endearing baseball legacy that continues to this day, and will undoubtedly continue for years, and generations, to come.
Sponsored by '47
If these walls could talk: Favorite tales from Fenway Park’s legendary years
From a ballpark usher to the man who invented Wally the Green Monster to the mayor of Yawkey Way, inside stories from the field, the stands, and the sidewalks outside the venerable old ballpark.
The ’47 story: Episode 1
How the hustle of two young brothers outside of Fenway Park evolved into a sports lifestyle brand 70 years later.
The ’47 story: Episode 2
The next generation steps up to the plate as the D’Angelo brothers’ business continues to grow. Their strategy? Kick the competition to the curb.