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Slightly OT....1967 Red Sox video


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DVD captures color of that glorious season

By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist | June 21, 2007

You probably think you're all 1967'd out already.

The Red Sox organization is doing right by those 1967 guys, honoring them in every way possible. You can't say it enough: Those guys revived baseball interest in Boston and New England. That year is the dividing line in Red Sox history. The current state of Red Sox fiscal affairs is the direct result of what happened during that glorious summer of 1967.

But before you cry, "No mas," be prepared to dig into the wallet one more time. Whether you lived through it or didn't, if you profess to be a baseball fan in these here parts, you owe it to yourself to acquire the indispensable DVD entitled "Impossible To Forget. The Story of the '67 Boston Red Sox."

The DVD is produced by the Sports Museum of New England, in conjunction with NESN, and for your money you get the complete original "Impossible Dream" documentary; 28 vignettes from the 1967 season; great footage from the 1967 World Series; and a 24-page commemorative booklet. But that's not all.

The highlight of this great piece of work is the complete game telecast of the penultimate game of the season, the must-win Saturday afternoon game of Sept. 30, when the Red Sox beat the Twins, 6-4. It is the oldest regular-season color telecast of any game to be found anywhere. It was originally telecast by WHDH-TV, the old Channel 5, and it has passed through the hands of Channel 38 into the custody of the Sports Museum, where executive director Rusty Sullivan and curator Dick Johnson treated it as would an archaeologist an artifact from ancient Egypt. It is in spectacular condition.

Beginning with the pregame entrance of Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Ted Kennedy and ending with a fine Jerry Adair play on a Tony Oliva line drive, it is an eerie, almost voyeuristic look into a baseball time past.

Fenway Park is pristine. No electronic scoreboard. No advertising anywhere. And off in the distance, it is not yet the "Citgo" sign. It is, of course, the "Cities Service" sign.

We are past the point where all the men are wearing hats, but you do see an occasional coat and tie, even on a Saturday afternoon. There is, by the way, no Jerry Kapstein behind the plate. No Dennis Drinkwater, either. It does seem strange.

The greatest thing of all is that no exhibitionist is jumping up, cellphone attached to ear, waving at the camera.

There is a center-field camera, but many of the at-bats are shot from behind the plate. With a man on first, the director favors that old wide-screen look that includes the pitcher's mound and first base. I rather liked seeing it again. By the way, you'd better be paying attention. There are no replays. There are no graphics. At the end of each half-inning, the scoreboard is panned. That's it.

To explain just how big a game it is, Ken Coleman points out during the top of the first that "there are 125 newspapermen from all over the country" in attendance, and that many will be using the auxiliary football press box.

The players all show perfect sock, stirrups and all. The umpires are still outfitted in dark suits, white shirt, black tie, and those cute little caps.

Every pitcher has a windup, even the relievers. Minnesota starter Jim Kaat has one of those complex swinging gate deals. Gotta love it. Everyone works fast. Since no one wears a batting glove (bat glove pioneer Ken Harrelson is in the game but he has not yet done his bit to alter baseball), no one is fidgeting with one of those. People get in the batter's box and stay there. The Mike Hargroves, Bernie Williamses, and Nomar Garciaparras are far in the future.

Sox skipper Dick Williams is in no-fool-around mode. With the Twins leading, 1-0, the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, he gets Gary Bell up in the bullpen. Starter Jose Santiago gets the message. He gets out of the jam and goes seven full. He will get the win.

Coleman always had one annoying habit, and he indulges in it here. George Scott, he informs us at one point, "is hitting three hundred and two." Aaarggh! Ken, Ken, Ken! It's three oh two. He did it constantly. Did anyone ever tell him?

But Ken is a good TV announcer who knows that less is more. A typical 5-3, for example, is "Rich Rollins . . . one away." His call of Scott's tiebreaking leadoff homer in the sixth: "Long drive, deep to center, it's gone." And then he says not another word as Scott rounds the bases. Perfect. The camera cuts to a beaming Kennedy.

His call on Yaz's clinching three-run homer off Jim Merritt (who has been brought in to face him): "Deep to right field . . . No. 44."

Again, perfect. Again, not another word as Yaz makes his way around the bases.

Time and again throughout the video, players hit home runs and practically sprint around the bases. Yaz, Tony C, Mike Andrews, Scott -- all of them. Time and again they hit the ball, run around the bases, and run hard. "Styling" is an unknown concept.

It's just plain spontaneous baseball, not theme-park stuff, the way it so often is now. There is one funny precursor of bad things to come, however. In an almost apologetic tone, Coleman confesses at one juncture that there is an "unintentional roar" due to the presence of a balloon on the playing field.

And with two away in the Minnesota ninth, no one is standing in that idiotic grandstandy way everyone does now. Good thing, too. For Cesar Tovar doubles into the corner and Harmon Killebrew hits one into the nets in left-center, tying Yaz for the league lead in homers. Coleman: "Well-stroked to left field, and this one is going to be gone."

The menacing Oliva lines one past the third base bag, but Adair snags it to save a double. Game over. The Sox are now tied for first with one game to play.

One more thing. Actually, two. No Wave. And no "Sweet Caroline." But we do get John Kiley playing "Everything's Coming Up Roses."

You don't have to have been there to want this DVD. Nine or 90, all you need is a baseball soul.

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