Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The outward and visible symbol of the New York Yankees' hatred for the Boston Red Sox sat in the first row of the box seats tonight.
His name was Boot Buttrey - designated heckler. The Yankees flew all 329 pounds of him in on air express today from Canton, Ohio, and gave him the best seat in the house.
Buttrey had a wonderful evening - biting the tops off beer cans, setting off firecrackers in his mouth, eating an entire pizza in 17 seconds and generally making a spectacle of himself as the Yanks beat Boston, 4-2, in this opening game of a three-game series.
"You guys ain't in Fenway Park any more," Buttrey shouted as the Bosox' best drives in batting practice landed harmlessly in the green acres of Death Valley in left-center.
When Carlton Fisk kicked the dirt, then slammed his bat against the cage after his best poke landed short of the fence, Buttrey celebrated with his first of 14 beers.
"I just bite the tops off 'em then chug 'em down," Buttrey explained. "Thurman Munson loves to see me do that. He's my best buddy you know. We've known each other since we were 8 years old. Thurm told Mr. (owner George) Steinbrenner that getting me here was what the team needed. The Yanks are picking up my whole tab."
When Fisk hit a blast 415 feet to left-center in the ninth with a man on - the Sox' best shot at a tie score - center fielder Mickey Rivers ran the ball down with ease. Buttrey celebrated by lighting one more small firecracker and letting it explode between his lips.
"This ball park has been beating teams for 50 years," explained Yank manager Billy Martin, "The Dodgers used to come here and hit those 400-foot fly outs and now its the Red Sox. It makes a big difference whether you get to first base and turn left (home run) or right (out)."
Tonight the Bosox spent the evening turning right at first base - when they got that far.
From the first pitch - when 55,269 fans started a roar they rarely ceased - the Yanks' lefty, Ron Guidry, was serving smoke the Bosox swung through vainly. He finished the evening with a five-hitter, eight strike-outs and a 14-6 record.
This was an evening when the Yanks won every trick. Boston took a 2-0 lead, only to see Rivers blast a two-run homer in the fifth to give the hostile hosts a 3-2 lead that Guidry protected like a german shepherd.
For the Red Sox, now 2 1/2 games out of first, the story seemed like a stuck record. Players with Boston written on their chests have been coming here in September for generations and their knees always seem to turn to mush and their bats to spaghetti.
Perhaps Bernie Carbo inadvertantly summed it up best before the game tacking the top of a beer can. "Who is that?" said Carbo, shaking his head at the hulking figure in a "Billy Martin's Running Circus" T-shirt and Yankee batting helmet, "That's way I hate to come to Yankee Stadium in September. The people aren't just hostile. They're dangerous. You keep one eye on them."
The Red Sox needed three eyes each to draw a bead on Guidry's stuff. Their only two runs were tainted. In the second Carl Yastrzemski tripled, the ball almost hitting Rivers in the ear as he tried to climb the wall, thinking the drive was far over his head.
A run-scoring wild pitch, two walks and a Butch Hobson ground single (for his 100th RBI) closed the Boston scoring. In no other inning did they get a man past first base.
For the Yanks, however, the game was like a ticking bomb as they waited for the right moment to ambush the Red Sox' shakey young starter, Mike Paxton.
In the fourth singles by Munson, Graig Nettles and Lou Piniella out the Sox lead to 2-1. A sparkling pickup and head-first drive to base for a force out by thirdsack Hobson ended the threat.
But Paxton, a sawed-off righty with control, poise and little stuff, was out of gas. When Bucky Dent started the fifth with a bloop single, Paxton's luck ran out.
Rivers, embarrassed by his blunder on Yastrzemski's sailing drive, atoned by rifling the next pitch over the right-field fence.
Paxton allowed another Munson single, then departed. The Sox might have escaped the inning without more damage, but Denny Doyle bobbled a potential inning-ending double-play grounder, getting only the front runner, and Chris Chambliss followed with an RBI double to finish the scoring.
After this victory, that Guidry made seem almost simple, the Yankees basked in glory. "At the beginning of the year Guidry was the last man on my staff, the long relief (mop up) man," said Martin. "But I knew if he got his feet on the ground, got his confidence found his control, he'd be a fine pitcher."
"There was a time this spring when I wondered if I'd ever get anybody out again," said the rail-thin, bowlegged Guidry, who may be the most unlikely looking power pitcher in baseball. "When I won my first game, I said, 'That's more than I won all last year.' Whatever they've asked me to do, I've done more."