October 1, 1967
“May I suggest the best example of brotherhood is right down the street from here. There’s a team over there in Boston Garden made up of blacks, and whites, Catholics and Protestants, coached by a Jew, and they’ve been world champions for a long time now. Everyone’s running around looking for theories and searching into history for explanations. If you want a perfect example of what we’ve been talking about, just look at the Celtics.”
-Red Sox General manager Dick O’Connell, Red Sox Fellowship Breakfast, 1967
In the Red Sox scrapbook, I started at age 11, there’s a news clipping from the Worcester Telegram that contains a photograph I feel best captures the essence of the 1967 Impossible Dream season. It immediately encompasses the full spectrum of both what differentiated them from any of their predecessors as well as what endears them to fans to this day. It shows Reggie Smith, Carl Yastrzemski, George Scott, and Mike Ryan stripped to the waist in the visitors’ clubhouse at Comiskey Park holding up teammate Joe Foy’s number “1” jersey to proclaim the Red Sox perch atop the American League on August 25th, just a week following the near-fatal beaning of teammate Tony Conigliaro.
This one image contains nothing less than the DNA of a winner. Here is a picture that depicts the soul of a team that seemed to change before our eyes. In an era before political correctness formed the parameters of our social norms, the ’67 Red Sox fully embraced integration in the spirit of winning. The team, which in earlier years rejected Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays, now featured a lineup as diverse as any in baseball, showcasing such Black stars as Reggie Smith, George Scott, Joe Foy, John Wyatt, and former American League MVP Elston Howard.
In a manner identical to that of their Celtics counterparts, winning for these men broke down barriers and helped make the team a role model whose shining example rejuvenated the franchise competitively, financially, and spiritually while also saving Fenway Park.