Dwight Evans 1979 Hostess Card – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for April 28, 2017

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Remember Hostess baseball cards? On the bottom of the boxes of Twinkees and Cup Cakes and Big Wheels, there would be three baseball cards.

My brother and I would check the bottom of the boxes before my mother bought them to try and find a player we liked. Evidently sometime in 1979, we found a box with Dwight Evans.

After plowing through the Twinkees, we would bust out the scissors and cut out the card and add it to the pile.

Here “Dewey” is posing with his bat in an empty Oakland Coliseum. (It tended to be empty in 1978 and 1979.)

I remember once I was trying to trade baseball cards with some kids who lived near my grandparents in Connecticut. I enthusiastically told them I had a Thurman Munson card which they coveted. When I revealed it was a Hostess card, I was rebuffed.

“We mean a REAL baseball card” I was told. I was incredulous. Don’t tell me a Hostess card is not a real card!

Of course they are real.

It is still in this shoebox, so clearly it is real.

Dwight Evans had a wonderful career and one that might very well eventually get him into the Hall of Fame if a Veterans Committee looks at his numbers with a modern set of eyes.

The California native emerged with the Red Sox along with Carlton Fisk and just a few seasons before his teammates Jim Rice and Fred Lynn would join him in the greatest homegrown outfield in modern baseball history.

Lynn was the flashiest player and Rice was the more feared slugger. But it was Evans who had the most complete and consistent game year in and year out. The best defensive outfielder in the American League, Evans had a cannon that no base runner would dare challenge.

In the 1975 World Series he showed off his power, with a game tying 9th inning homer in Game 2 and his glove. In the top of the 11th with a runner on, Joe Morgan launched a shot to right field. It was clearly going to be at least a double and possibly a homer. Either way, the Reds were about to take the lead and be 3 outs away from a title.

But Evans made a leaping grab to snag the ball. And then for good measure threw back to the infield to double off Ken Griffey Senior who was trying to score.

Throughout the late 1970’s and all the 1980’s, Evans quietly was one of baseball’s most consistent sluggers. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he tied for the league lead in homers and had the highest OPS in the league. In 1982, his on base percentage led the AL and three times led the league in walks. He was a slugger getting 20 to 30 homers a year while driving in runs and walking at an eye popping rate and playing stellar defense.

He would have been one of the most coveted players in baseball today. In his day he was a solid, respected player but only sporadically thought of as elite.

4 times he did finish in the top 10 for the MVP vote. 8 times he was a Gold Glove winner. Twice he was the Silver Slugger. In 1986, he socked 3 post season homer and had a 1.015 OPS in the World Series.

After a few more stellar and somewhat under the radar seasons, he was unceremoniously dumped by the Red Sox to make room for Jack Clark after the 1990 ALCS. He played his final year with the Orioles in 1991.

A Red Sox Hall of Famer and to this day a fan favorite, Evans is part of an agonizing “What If.”

As it was, Evans appeared on three Cooperstown ballots. In 1997 he got 5.9% of the vote. In 1998 he peaked at 10.4%. In 1999 he got 3.6% and fell off the ballot.

Now let’s imagine something.

If the Red Sox got that final out in the 1986 World Series, a lot would have been different in Boston history. Jim Rice would have been elected on the first ballot instead of the 15th. The narrative would have been “They didn’t win with Yaz or Ted but they won with Jim.”

Evans would have been swept into the riptide as a valuable contributor to a Red Sox title. And maybe with a little more scrutiny to his career, he could have survived on the ballot long enough for the advanced metrics supporters to make a compelling case for his Hall of Fame inclusion.

I am not saying he would have been elected, but it would have been at least a prolonged debate.

He was one of my favorite players. He was also one of my brother’s favorite players, so I am posting this on his birthday.

I wonder which one of us cut out this card.

One thing I do know… it is a REAL card.



DICK DRAGO – Unsung Post Season Hero of October 21



OCTOBER 21, 1975 – World Series Game 6

It may seem like a stretch to call any aspect of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series “unsung.” The praises of that game have been sung more often than Springsteen at a New Jersey karaoke bar.

Carlton Fisk and Bernie Carbo’s homers are the stuff of legend. And the unfolding of the game piece by piece has been analyzed as if it was a work of great literature. But one player in the drama came up big (with some help from the defense) and helped set up the spectacular climax and yet still fails to see his name included in the narrative. That would be Red Sox bullpen closer, Dick Drago.

The 30 year old native of Toledo had been a solid starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals when the Red Sox picked up up in a deal for Marty Pattin before the 1974 season. By 1975, he became a fixture in the bullpen and closed out the three time defending champion Oakland A’s to clinch the ALCS.

But Drago’s first World Series appearance was not effective as he blew Bill Lee’s lead and lost Game 2. He did not appear in any of the three games in Cincinnati and after Game 6 was delayed for rainy weather, he was well rested and ready to go.

Luis Tiant, who threw complete game victories in Games 1 and 4 pitched for Boston but fell behind 6-3 in the 8th inning. Roger Moret came in to finish the 8th and with the Reds up by 3, the Cincinnati titles seemed all but certain.

But in the 8th with 2 on and 2 outs, Bernie Carbo batted for Moret and blasted his celebrated game tying homer. Now a pitcher needed to come in and keep the Reds from taking the lead back and set up a title clinching in the 9th.

Dick Drago got the call. His job with the World Series on the line was to retire Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. No problem! He retired them 1-2-3.

Now all the Red Sox had to do was score a run in the bottom of the 9th and Drago would get the win and there would be a Game 7. Despite the fact that the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 9th, they couldn’t score.

Onto the 10th. The task for Drago did not get much easier as he got George Foster out to start the inning. Dave Concepcion singled and stole second but was left stranded when Drago struck out Cesar Geronimo and got Dan Driessen to pop up.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Red Sox went down in order. Drago got the ball again for the 11th.

A questionable hit by pitch of Pete Rose led off the inning. Replay showed the ball probably never hit him. Rose was erased on a Ken Griffey bunt play that went wrong. Then up stepped Joe Morgan.

The future Hall of Famer and broadcaster hit a deep drive to right and Dwight Evans made his famous leaping catch that turned into an inning ending double play when Griffey was doubled off.

Drago was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 11th and in the 12th, Fisk hit his homer, making a winner out of Rick Wise.

Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson did not use Drago in the Game 7 finale, instead turning to rookie Jim Burton in the 9th inning of the last game. The Red Sox lost the World Series and their bullpen closer never got into the finale.

Drago’s legacy in Game 6 seems to be the guy who got lucky  when Evans made that catch. But his final line was impressive: 3 innings, 1 hit, no walks and no runs.

The list of heroes for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series may be long but it should include one more. At least I am honoring Dick Drago as the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 21,

Why 1978 and 1986 still sting, even after 3 Red Sox World Series titles


Time might not heal all wounds, but it can take care of a lot of them. As a Red Sox fan, I can attest there have been plenty of wounds inflicted on us in various Septembers and Octobers. And I can also say that the World Series titles of 2004, 2007 and 2013 have eased a whole lot of pain.

You would think there would be nothing painful left. After claiming to want to see just one World Series title before we die, Red Sox fans can rank the recent championships inGold, Silver and Bronze.

And many clips that have been painful to look at in the past no longer make me cringe.

Some failures seemed to set up a victory as a prelude. Seeing Grady Little leave Pedro in for too long and Aaron Boone homering in extra innings  no longer makes me queasy. The 2003 ALCS loss set up the celebration of 2004.

Someone linked me a video clip of Carl Crawford falling down and the winning run scoring during the season finale of 2011 with the caption “Something to make every Red Sox fan cry.” Nope. 2011 is just prologue for the Boston Strong title of 2013.

But despite three titles and Dombrowski putting together a new contender, there are still a pair of games that make me shudder.

Deep to left… Yastrzemski will not get it. It’s a home run! A three run home run by Bucky Dent and the Yankees now lead it by a score of three to two.

And of course…

A little roller along first… BEHIND THE BAG! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!


1978 and 1986 still hurt. Maybe not as badly as they did before Dave Roberts stole second. But they still sting.

Now before I continue, let me make something perfectly clear. I am simply showing the Buckner error as a shorthand of everything painful about 1986.

Please read the next sentence carefully.


In fact I believe the Buckner error is the single most overrated play in baseball history. If he had made the play, the Red Sox would not have won the World Series then. The game was already tied on the underrated wild pitch.

And the play did not clinch the World Series for the Mets. It tied the series at 3 and the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in Game 7, which they ultimately lost.

I covered all that in this video…

But why have the scars of 1978 and 1986 not completely healed?

For me, the cringe worthy factors for both years come from not only how close both teams came to becoming THE beloved team of Boston history, but who could have cemented their legacies with a Red Sox championship.

Look at the recent dismantling of the 2013 Champs. Sure there were a few beloved homegrown mainstays who departed, like Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester. But most of the outgoing champion Sox were short timers, like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew or David Ross.

Now take the 1978 team. Had they won the World Series that year, imagine the parade of all time beloved Red Sox who would have been crowned instantly.


Carlton Fisk? Check.


Carl Yastrzemski? The Captain has his title.


Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans… the best Red Sox outfield in history? Come get your rings.


A pair of future Red Sox broadcasters, Jerry Remy and Bob Montgomery, would be able to tell stories about their title.


Fan favorites like George Scott, Rick Burleson and my personal favorite Butch Hobson would be able to have their crowning achievements.


Luis Tiant and Bill Lee, the most unique pitching tandem in Red Sox history, would have the championship that eluded them in 1975 (and Lee, the last remaining Buffalo Head, would have his vindication.)

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And perhaps Dennis Eckersley’s Hall of Fame career would have kicked into full gear before his transformation in Oakland.

That is a galaxy of beloved Red Sox stars, whose legacy would stretch from the 1967 Impossible Dream to Eckersley being teammates with Pedro, Mo and Nomar in 1998. It would take the sting out of 1975 (and make that simply prologue for the glories of 1978) and give so many legends a chance to have their greatest moment.

Also it would have driven George Steinbrenner bananas.

Instead Don Zimmer managed the team like someone who was in mid panic, the Yankees pulled off the four game sweep and then there was the Bucky Dent game.

Remember, the Red Sox rallied and had the winning runs on base in the bottom of the 9th. Jim Rice hit a deep fly which if it went out, the Red Sox would head to the playoffs and probably win it all. Yaz of course popped out. And 1978, instead of being the team that becomes the unquestionably most beloved team in the history of Boston sports, became a crushing reminder of what was not to be.


The frustration over the 1986 squad is less about a beloved team and more about some legacies that were forever tainted by Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.

By all accounts, the 1986 squad was not a cute and cuddly bunch. They were the proverbial “24 players, 24 cabs” crew. But they also could pitch, hit and field and in the 1986 ALCS, they showed they had heart as well.

Down 3-1 in the series and trailing by 3 in the 9th inning of Game 5, the Red Sox looked like they were going to be a forgotten division winner to the Angels. But then Gene Mauch over managed, as only Gene Mauch could do. A Dave Henderson homer and some clutch pitching from Steve Crawford later, the Sox were alive. Then they blew out the Angels in Games 6 and 7. This Red Sox team was different. They stared down defeat and beat it.

Had the last out had been made in World Series Game 6 (if only Carter, Mitchell, Knight or Wilson had popped up, grounded out or something) the team that became synonymous with choking would represent the exact opposite.

If the Red Sox had won, Dave Henderson would have been the out of nowhere hero of the ALCS and World Series, taking the mantle now occupied by another reserve outfielder turned ALCS Red Sox hero named Dave (that would be Dave Roberts.)

But beyond the stigma of losing the series, a reversal of fortune in 1986 would have forever changed the legacy of 7 baseball figures.


Roger Clemens would have eclipsed Larry Bird as the biggest sports figure in Boston. Bird was a legend. But Clemens would have done the impossible. After years and years of seeing all hit, no pitch Red Sox teams fall short, Clemens would be seen as the great leader of the team, the man who delivered what so many other stars could not.

Maybe as a beloved Red Sox champion he does not leave bitter in 1996. Maybe he does not balloon up in the late 1990s. Maybe his legacy isn’t altered. Maybe 21 is retired and the debate of who was the biggest figure in Boston sports of the 1980s would be between Roger and Larry.

All wonderful maybes.


Wade Boggs would have cemented his legacy early as one of the greats in Red Sox history. He still became that, but his number isn’t retired at Fenway and there has been super tension between the best hitter of his generation and the team he came within a strike of leading to the promised land.


Jim Rice ultimately would make it to the Hall of Fame and have his number retired. But only after 15 years of haggling over his numbers and controversy. Had that last out been made, Rice would not have waited until 2009 for his induction. He would have been in in 1995, on the first ballot (and before Sabermetric arguments could even be made.)

Why? Because the narrative would have been simple: Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski had better numbers. But they WON with Jim Rice. (And with Rice’s injury keeping him out of the 1975 World Series, the narrative would have extended back to then. They would have won TWO had Rice not broken his hand!)


Dwight Evans, the lone active player who appeared in both the 1975 and 1986 World Series, would be more than just a beloved former Red Sox. With a World Series title, people might examine his career a little more closely and see his Cooperstown case is actually compelling.

His Hall of Fame candidacy was 3 years and out and never made much of a dent. With a World Series title, he might have stuck around on the ballot for a few more years, maybe long enough for the advanced metrics voters to see his combination of power, on base and defense made him more valuable than people may have realized.

Who knows? If Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, Ray Knight or Mookie Wilson popped up, Dwight Evans might be in the Hall of Fame.


Bob Stanley threw the wild pitch that tied the game and served up the Mookie Wilson grounder. He had 2 strikes on Mookie before the wild pitch and saw what seemed like 47,000 pitches fouled off.

If one pitch was tipped into the glove or he just missed, Bob Stanley would be the man on the mound when the Red Sox won it all. There would be no memory of Stanley gaining weight and losing his effectiveness after signing a big contract. Stanley would not be thought of as a symbol for Red Sox loserdom, as he was called in Curse of the Bambino (not by me.)

The image on everyone’s wall, locker and poster in every kid’s bedroom would be Bob Stanley jumping in the air, a Red Sox champion. The two time All Star would be a beloved figure, his stockiness adding to his charm instead of fueling people’s frustration.



John McNamara’s legacy in Boston is Grady Little-esque. He is thought of as a manager who dozed off during spring training games and made some boneheaded decisions in big moments. Not replacing Bill Buckner for Dave Stapleton defensively in Game 6 (as he had in every other post season victory) did not crack the the top 10 of strange decisions he made.

Many people, including the author of this post, blamed him more than any player for the World Series loss.

But had that last out been made, it would have been the defining achievement of a baseball lifer who was beloved by many of his players. Reggie Jackson called him his favorite manager after his turns in both Oakland and California. Tom Seaver, who played under McNamara in Cincinnati, swore by him. Mike LaCoss, a guest on my podcast, described him as a calm father figure.

Imagine if a nice Irish Catholic man who spent his life in baseball had won the title in Boston. He would be asked to speak at every Knights of Columbus meeting in New England from now to the end of time.


Even casual fans know who Bill Buckner is. No name ever became a quicker short hand for Red Sox ineptitude than Buckner. And as the years went by, the significance of his error grew with a false narrative.

“If Bill Buckner had made that play, the Red Sox would have won the World Series!” Untrue.

“With that error, the Mets won the World Series!” Untrue.

For years, anyone who saw I was a Red Sox fan felt they could get my goat simply by saying “BUCK-NAH!” Even Red Sox fans, who initially blamed Schraldi and McNamara and Stanley, turned on him. Fenway gave Buckner a standing ovation in 1990 when he returned to the club after stints with the Angels and Royals. But as the memories of 1986 became fuzzier and his blame was erroneously increased, Buckner moved away from New England.

It wasn’t until after the 2007 title that Buckner was brought back to Fenway to a thunderous ovation. (It also resulted in a memorable episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I digress.)

But if that last out was made, what would be Bill Buckner’s legacy?

He would have collected 2,714 hits over his 20 seasons in the majors. Buckner was an All Star and a batting champion. Twice he led the league in doubles. He drove in 102 runs for the Red Sox in 1986 and joined Wade Boggs and Rich Gedman in giving left handed balance to the lineup with the right handed Marty Barrett, Don Baylor, Tony Armas and Jim Rice.

Yes, his ankles were hurt and he was hobbled, but the sight of him playing through the pain would have made him a hero.

With the last out, Bill Buckner would have represented everything great and worth admiring about the 1986 Red Sox.

Bill Buckner would represent heart and being a winner.

Alas, the fan base moves on, hoping to see a fourth World Series title in our lifetimes.

It would have been nice if some of these great names could have been part of a World Series celebration.