The 1972 Red Sox may have been manager Eddie Kasko’s finest hour. In that year he led a young, overachieving team into a division race. The squad, of which little was expected, entered June with a 15-19 record.
Late in the month, however, they suddenly caught fire, led by a resurgent Luis Tiant who, in the words of Glenn Stout in Red Sox Century “pitched his way out of the bullpen and soon anchored a staff that included Marty Pattin, Sonny Siebert, Bill Lee (not yet the Spaceman) and rookies John Curtis and Lynn McGlothen. From late June to late September, their record was 54-34 and the crowds suddenly returned to Fenway. The Sox, paced by a sensational rookie catcher named Carlton Fisk, were called “Kasko’s Kiddie Korps”.
On Monday October 2, they went into Tiger Stadium for a showdown series needing to win 2 of 3 games to clinch the division title. I will now quote from Stout’s book:
“In game one the Tigers jumped to a quick 1-0 lead over Curtis when Al Kaline homered. In the third the Sox rallied. With one out, Tommy Harper and Luis Aparicio singled, then Carl Yastrzemski ripped a Mickey Lolich fastball over center fielder Mickey Stanley’s head. The ball hit the top of the fence and bounced back over Stanley toward the infield.
Harper scored easily from third as Aparicio and Yaz tore around the bases. As Aparicio reached third, coach Eddie Popowski waved him home. He slipped on top of the third base bag and stumbled awkwardly into foul territory, falling to the ground. As he scrambled back to his feet Popowski yelled for him to return. As he did, Aparicio stumbled again before making it back. That image-Aparicio on all fours- has since been cast in the Red Sox cannon of decisive miscues that cost them championships.