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Rico Petrocelli Remembers Red Sox Legend Dick Williams08:29
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Boston Red Sox manager Dick Williams, right, and Roger Maris, of the St. Louis Cardinals, chat before Game 2 of the 1967 World Series in Boston. (AP)
Boston Red Sox manager Dick Williams, right, and Roger Maris, of the St. Louis Cardinals, chat before Game 2 of the 1967 World Series in Boston. (AP)

So it's summer, and the Red Sox are in first place, a half game ahead of the New York Yankees. And with one of the highest payrolls in baseball, and names like Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Josh Beckett on the roster, Sox fans have lots of reasons to believe that their team could be on its way back to the World Series ... again.

Of course, such optimism is a relatively recent phenomenon in this part of the world, and that's what makes the death on Thursday of Dick Williams so worth noting.

Williams was the manager of the 1967 Red Sox, better known as the "Impossible Dream" team. It was when I was infected by the Red Sox bug. When I was a kid growing up in Cambridge, the Sox were perennial losers. The team hadn't won a pennant since 1946. And they'd gone from 1959 to 1966 without a winning season. And in 1966, they finished dead last in the American League. But in 1967, when I was a 10-year-old little leaguer and a diehard Sox fan, a tough, young guy with a crew cut named Dick Williams took over as manager.

Williams promised the Sox would win more than they'd lose, which back then seemed impossible. Fewer than 9,000 people were in the stands at Fenway Park on Opening Day. But the Sox became contenders that year, and moved from worst to first in the American League. And on the last game of the season, they played a decisive game against the Minnesota Twins, which I remember watching on a grainy black and white TV.

That was the first time I saw fans swarm the field. And it was thrilling. When the Sox won that game — and the pennant — it spawned a new generation of fans. Even though they went on to lose the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, the 1967 Red Sox, and their manager, Dick Williams, took their place in baseball history.

Red Sox great Rico Petrocelli and Radio Boston's Anthony Brooks remember Dick Williams and the "Impossible Dream" team.

Guest:

  • Rico Petrocelli, shortstop for the 1967 Boston Red Sox

This segment aired on July 8, 2011.

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