Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Gigantic sky rockets burst in the sky behind Fenway Park. A roman candle was launched above the right field bleachers. Firecrackers exploded in the outfield grass.
The Boston Red Sox and their fans were celebrating their independence from the New York Yankees Monday night.
This hitter's heaven was streaked with tracers and baseball bullets all night as the Bosox crashed eight extra-base hits in their 9-5 victory over the Bronx world champs.
The Yankees had the home run superiority as Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent and Gary Thomasson all went over the wall against winner Dennis Eckersley, who struggled through eight innings for his third win over the Yankees in 13 days.
However, it was the Red Sox who circled the bases continually with seven doubles and a triple. In all, 11 balls were hit over or against the left field wall. Fitting fireworks for the Fourth, indeed.
If this Bosox celebration was slightly premature, so may be their fans hasty assumption that the Yanks have died.
"Lotta road to travel," said Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, who along with Carl Yastrzemski had three RBI. "But now we can't get hurt in these 16 days we keep hearing about."
The Sox are now 8-4 in their 16 Days War with their pursuers - New York and Baltimore. Only one game, which holds no terror, remains.
"We lost three great games in extra innings this week," said Fred Lynn. "It's more fun to win a slugfest."
This was a fan's game from the third pitch of the night when Nettles conked his 15th homer in the screen.
"I wasn't too impressive tonight, was I," asked Eckersley, who, after never beating New York in three years, has become a Yankee-killer in two weeks. "Man, they took me waaaay back three times. I been throwin' a lot of way-backers this year.
"But I'm also learning to pitch," said the righty, now 9-2.
Eckersley faced four crucial junctures in this game and came up with four strikeouts - all on junk.
"I got Reggie (Jackson) twice to end early innings when the game was till close." said Eckersley. "When they got two on in the sixth, I struck out (Jay) Johnstone and (Jim) Spencer on four changeups and two offspeed sliders.
"Lou Piniella ran past me after he grounded out to me and said, 'Just throw the ball hard, will ya'"
That is how the Yanks used to demolish Eckersley. "He'd challenge 'em, throw 99 percent heat, and get tired," said Fisk. "That's the only possible explanation. Now. I'm callin' it the other way and they don't like it so much."
While Eckersley won on a bad night ("that's the key to getting those 20 wins," he said), Ed Figueroa was shelled for six quick runs in the first four innings.
"Figgy usually throws me that good slow curve," said Lynn, "but you can see his elbow's bothering him. He can't pull the string. And his heater's not that good."
Figueroa, who has argued with Manager Billy Martin and other Yank officials, saying that he is in too much discomfort to pitch, was caught between Yastrzemski and Fisk all game long.
In the first, Yastrzemski singled home Jerry Remy, who had doubled. In third, after an error, Yastrzemski doubled off the center field wall for one and Fisk singled him home.
By the fourth - and final - Figueroa inning, the righty was seeing those two everywhere he looked.
A walk to Dwight Evans and ninth-hitter Jack Brohamer's double to left put Boston ahead to stay, 4-3. With men on second and third and two out, Martin told Figueroa to walk Yaz to load the bases.
Great. Who's up next? Fisk.
The catcher's rising liner off a misplaced 1-2 fast ball that found the pipe hit a foot from the top of the wall for a two-run double.
"In any other park that's a grand slam," said Fisk. "Don't say Fenway never robs you of anything."
Figueroa's successors were similarly mistreated. Sparky Lyle, desultory as usual when called on to protect a middle-inning deficit, gave up two quick runs on back-to-back Evans and George Scott doubles, plus a Rick Burleson sacrifice fly.
The Yanks, searching for warm arms, turned to rookie Bob Kammeyer fresh from the Pacific Coast League, who began his big-league career by facing Jim Rice and Yastrzemski.
Crack: triple to right, Zing: single to right.
Dear Ma and Pa, Tacoma was never like this.