Can The 2012 Royals Be The 1967 Red Sox?

The 1966 Boston Red Sox finished in ninth place in the American League with a 72-90 record. One year later they took the St. Louis Cardinals to the seventh game of the World Series. This is an extraordinary turnaround for any team, and the Red Sox had not won the AL pennant in 21 years before that. It’s not hard to draw a comparison between the 1966 Sox and the 2011 Royals; the question is, will the 2012 Royals resemble the 1967 Red Sox? Is it even reasonable to dream The Impossible Dream?

The 1966 Red Sox were in the midst of a youth movement. Longtime 3B Frank Malzone was shipped to the Angels, and the job was given to 23 year old Joe Foy. Felix Mantilla, a big hitting 2B, was shipped to Houston just in time before the start of the 1966 season. He played sporadically and was out of baseball the next season at age 31. He was replaced by George Smith, who flamed out miserably and was out of the league after the ’66 season.


Rico Petrocelli had played 103 games in ’65 with decent results for age 22, and he was officially handed the SS job for the ’66 season. In another prescient or lucky move, 1B Lee Thomas was traded for pitching and to make way for 22 year old George Scott. The 30 year old Thomas, who had just OPSed .826 in ’65, never was an effective hitter again. Offensive black hole Mike Ryan, age 24, did most of the catching.


The corner OF spots were set with Carl Yastrzemski, 25, and phenom Tony Coniglario, 20, playing almost every game. Yaz slumped a bit in ’66, posting a .799 OPS after putting up a .932 in ’65, but he was getting ready for a season for the ages in ’67. Don Demeter, Tony Green and Jose Tartabull all split time in CF, but a late season callup , 21 year old Reggie Smith, was ready to make his move in ’67.


The starting pitchers and their ages in ’66 were Jim Longborg, 24, Jose Santiago, 25, Lee Stange, 29, Earl Wilson, 31, Dennis Bennett, 26, Jerry Stephenson, 22, Bucky Brandon, 25, and Dick Stigman, 30. Only Longborg and Santiago made more than 20 starts.


Another good move was acquiring KC A’s fireman John Wyatt, 31, in the middle of the ’66 season, for scrubs. He would prove to be invaluable in the ’67 pennant run. Jose Tartabull was also acquired in the deal. Wyatt would essentially replace Dick Radatz, one of the most feared firemen in the league. Radatz was dealt mid-season for Don McMahon and Lee Stange. He was never effective again.


So thusly did the ’66 Red Sox post a very Royalesque 72-90 record. However, they had jettisoned some aging dead wood and acquired a few valuable pieces. They were starting to let the kids play, and they were not setting the world on fire except for Conigliaro, who was already an established star at 20. Fast forward to opening day 1967.



Opening Day lineup


José Tartabull



Joe Foy



Carl Yastrzemski  



Tony Conigliaro



George Scott



Reggie Smith



Rico Petrocelli



Mike Ryan



Jim Lonborg




Reggie Smith played all of 6 games at 2B before taking over CF from Tartabull, and 23 year old Mike Andrews moved into the 2B slot. This would remain the basic lineup until Conigliaro took a Jack Hamilton fastmall to the cheek, essentially ending his career. He would make a comeback in ’69, but he was never the same again. Ryan was so terrible at the plate that they brought in the remains of the once great Elston Howard to replace him. The 38 year old Howard was even worse, so the forgettable Russ Gibson wound up with more playing time than they had planned. They simply had no offense from the C spot.


Faced with replacing Conigliaro in RF, Jose Tartabull was thrown out there as a stopgap. Then Kansas City inexplicably released Ken Harrelson, who was OPSing .832, on 8-25-67. The Red Sox signed him on 8-28, and he stood in RF for for much of the rest of the season. He had a 1B arm and was slow, but someone had to be there. His offensive production fell off the table, too. He would, however, have a career year in ’68 at age 26, posting a .275/.356/.518/.874 with 35 HRs and 109 RBI.


The Starting Rotation:


                              W         L        ERA         GP        GS

Jim Longborg        22         9        3.16           39        39

Lee Stange              8        10       2.77           35         24

Gary Bell               12         8       3.16           29         24

Dennis Bennett        4         3       3.88           14         11

Bucky Brandon       5        11      4.17            39        19

Jose Santiago        12          4      3.59            50        11


A hodge-podge of veterans and kids started the rest of the games. John Wyatt, at 32, had a great if not career year, throwing 93.1 innings with a 2.60 ERA and a 10-7 record. Oh, and a 22 year old Sparky Lyle made his MLB debut, posting a 2.28 ERA in 43.1 innings.


So, this is not the entire story, but the biggest part of it. The ’67 Red Sox had a young ace in Longborg, a true stud in the middle of the order with Yaz, and a bunch of kids who were not yet peaking but on the way to it. Conigliaro would have been a huge factor if not for the beaning. Mix in a few veterans to plug some holes at replacement level, and voila, Plaza Parade. Well, almost.My question to you, members of Royals Review, is there a reasonable chance of the Royals mimicking the 1967 Red Sox’s success in 2012, or even 2013?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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