The Red Sox haven’t won the World Series since 1918. Is a ghost to blame?

Usually by mid-October, the perennial “This is the year” cries from Red Sox Nation have already been packed away ’til next April. But, low and behold, as I write, Boston’s beloved baseball team is playing their biggest rivals, the hated New York Yankees, for a shot at the World Series. I know what you’re thinking: The Curse of the Bambino will once again rear its ugly head.

For the uninitiated, the alleged Curse is a myth that attributes 85 years of tragic Red Sox losses to the ghost of Babe Ruth, who is apparently still sore about being sold to the Yankees in 1920. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. And Red Sox fans, often referred to as the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in baseball, don’t actually believe their team is cursed. Truth be told, most in Red Sox Nation hadn’t even heard of this Curse business before Boston Globe scribe Dan Shaughnessy wrote a book about it in 1988. Since then, the catchy phrase has been an easy way for media types to fan the flames the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, arguably the fiercest in sports.

As if any flame-fanning were necessary. Bostonians may not believe in The Curse, but their hatred of the Yankees is very real, indeed, and in many ways dates back to 1918, the last time the Red Sox won a World Series. Ruth was still wearing a Sox uniform in those days, but as soon as he put on those Yankees pinstripes it seems our luck turned. The Bronx Bombers, who had never won before acquiring Ruth, would go on to win 26 World Series titles (four with the Babe). Countless Yankees have since been known to make our blood boil (former Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, Bucky [expletive] Dent and the evil Yankee boss, George Steinbrenner spring to mind). So Sox fans would love nothing more than to annihilate that team from New York on our way to the World Series. But only because we want what they have, and that’s not Babe Ruth—that’s a championship ring.

—Christine Celli

the wins that got away
1946 World Series: The Cardinals force Game 7, in which the Sox take the lead into the bottom of the 8th. It disappears for good when Johnny Pesky “holds the ball,” allowing the winning run to score. 1967 World Series, “The Impossible Dream” Team: Things are looking good when the Sox go into Game 7 behind Cy Young-winner Jim Lonborg, but Cards pitcher Bob Gibson takes advantage of an extra days rest and wins the game. 1975 World Series: The Sox go into Game 7 against the Reds behind Bill Lee (17–9 on the year), but the Reds win in the 9th inning, 4–3. 1978 One-Game Playoff: The Sox led the Yankees by 14-1/2 games at mid-season, but injuries helped the Yanks close the gap. In a one-game playoff, a three-run homer by scrappy hitter Bucky Dent sends the Yankees to the American League Championship. 1986 World Series: It’s Game 6 and the Sox are one strike away from a championship when the ball rolls through Bill Bucker’s legs on a simple grounder, allowing the Mets to pull ahead. The Sox go into Game 7 behind lefty ace Bruce Hurst, but suffer a heartbreaking 8–5 loss. Red Sox Nation mourns.