The 1986 season started off on the right foot when Roger Clemens struck out a major-league record 20 batters in an April game at Fenway Park. On May 17, the club held an Old-Timers game that paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Red Sox pennant-winning 1946 squad and invited back non-Red Sox alumni to participate as well, including Joe and Vince DiMaggio who joined their brother Dom on the Fenway Park field. In the fall, the 1986 Red Sox celebrated their own AL Pennant, rallying to defeat the California Angels in the ALCS before advancing to a heartbreaking World Series reminiscent of 1946.

The Red Sox

Record: 95-66, 1st in American League East
Manager: John F. McNamara
Attendance: 2,147,641
Postseason: Played in World Series

Roger Clemens made history during the first month of the 1986 season, when he struck out a major-league record 20 Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on April 29. When Clemens moved his record to 6-0 on May 14, the Red Sox eased into first place and never left. The Rocket ran his unbeaten streak all the way to 14-0 by the middle of the summer, en route to both Most Valuable Player and Cy Young honors that year. Clemens even won the All-Star Game in Houston, the only Red Sox pitcher to ever record the win in the Midsummer Classic.

The Red Sox bolstered their lineup with a late March trade that brought Don Baylor from the Yankees in exchange for Mike Easler. Baylor hit a team-leading 31 home runs and was one of four Red Sox players with 94 or more RBIs. In addition, Wade Boggs won his second straight batting title with a .357 average.

Though the Red Sox sat in first place for most of the season, the team's front office didn't rest on its laurels and on August 19, the club traded with Seattle to get Dave Henderson and Spike Owen.

Clemens finished the season with a 24-4 record and 2.48 ERA, complemented by Bruce Hurst (13-8, 2.99 ERA) and Oil Can Boyd (16-10, 3.78 ERA). When the Red Sox clinched the division behind the Can's 12-3 win over the Blue Jays on September 28, Clemens rode around the field on a police horse in the midst of the celebration.

The Red Sox fell behind three games to one in the American League Championship Series against the California Angels, but staged a dramatic comeback in Game Five thanks to a clutch two-run, ninth inning home run by Henderson that staved off elimination. Hendu's sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th then plated the go-ahead run and the ALCS returned to Boston. Back home, the Red Sox closed out the Halos with a pair of blow-outs in Games Six and Seven, 10-4 and 8-1 victories.

Boston entered the World Series as a 2-1 underdog versus the New York Mets but they had chances to win throughout the series. Ultimately, the Red Sox lost Games Six and Seven despite leading both games and Bill Buckner's error in Game Six went out to haunt Red Sox fans for years to come.


The 1986 World Series

The 1986 World Series pegged the Red Sox as 2-1 underdogs against the New York Mets, who had won 108 games during the regular season. In Game One at Shea Stadium, Boston sent lefty Bruce Hurst to the mound against New York's Ron Darling. The game remained scoreless going into the seventh inning before Red Sox slugger Jim Rice drew a walk, moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored on an error by Mets' second baseman Tim Teufel. This miscue proved to be the difference-maker as Boston emerged with a 1-0 victory in Game One behind Hurst's four-hit effort.

Game Two starred pitching phenoms Roger Clemens and Doc Gooden, who had amassed regular season records of 24-4 and 17-6, respectively. However, the anticipated pitching duel never materialized and Boston's offense built a 6-2 advantage in support of Clemens, who was pulled after he put on the first two runners in the fifth inning. Still, the Red Sox bullpen minimized the damage and the team's offense padded the cushion in the late innings, sending the club to a 9-3 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series as the teams headed to Fenway Park.

Boston gave 16-game winner Oil Can Boyd the nod in Game Three but New York leadoff hitter Lenny Dykstra started the game with a home run and set the tone for a 7-1 Mets victory. Former Red Sox pitcher Bobby Ojeda picked up the win with a strong effort for New York.

Many expected the Red Sox to turn back to Bruce Hurst in Game Four but Boston skipper John McNamara chose Al Nipper instead. Nipper lasted six innings and yielded three runs, which proved to be enough for the Mets and starter Ron Darling, who prevailed 6-2 to even the series at two games apiece. Though it seemed like the home team couldn't win a game, Hurst reversed the trend in Game Five and dominated New York in a complete game 4-2 victory that put Boston one victory away from their first title in 68 years.

Game Six in New York began on a peculiar note when a parachutist landed on the mound in the top of the first inning with Boston's Bill Buckner standing at the plate. Boston starter Roger Clemens pitched no-hit ball through his first four frames and was leading 3-2 when he was removed for a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth. Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi entered the game in Clemens' place but allowed the Mets to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the 10th, a Dave Henderson leadoff home run, a Wade Boggs double and a Marty Barrett single put Boston ahead 5-3 with just three outs to go. After retiring the first two Mets hitters in the bottom half of the frame, Schiraldi, who had a 1.41 ERA in the regular season, surrendered three straight singles, cutting the Boston lead to a solitary run. Bob Stanley was brought in to preserve the win but the tying run scored on a wild pitch. What happened next has lived on in Red Sox infamy ever since: New York's Mookie Wilson hit a slow roller that scooted between first baseman Bill Buckner's legs, pushing across the Game Six-winning, World Series-tying run.

A day of rain after Game Six made it possible for Hurst to pitch on three days' rest in Game Seven and the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead through six innings. However, the Mets roared back with six unanswered runs against the Boston pitching staff, three off Hurst and three off Schiraldi. Though a Dwight Evans double in the eighth inning cut the lead to 6-5, the Mets countered with two insurance runs and held on for an 8-5, World Series-clinching victory. Red Sox fans were left in shock and bewilderment; their club had just dropped its fourth consecutive World Series Game Seven.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

The 1986 Old-Timers game at Fenway Park paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Red Sox pennant-winning 1946 squad. The club also invited non-Red Sox alumni to participate for the first time. All three DiMaggio brothers - Red Sox legend Dominic, New York Yankee Hall of Famer Joe, and former Boston Brave Vince - showed up, as did Dom's longtime teammates and friends Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams. The quartet was among 19 players from the mighty 1946 Boston team to return to Boston for the occasion.

1986 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
May 17Old-Timers Game

Fenway Park In 1982 (Credit: Boston Red Sox)