The Boston American League franchise has been one of the most successful over the years. However, the team has been unable to garner a championship since 1918. Some have blamed the Curse of the Bambino -- that is the regrettable sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. A more accurate reason has been the lack of Red Sox pitching and some poor luck.
Four times since sending Ruth to New York, the Sox have failed to win a Game Seven in the World Series. In 1948 and 1978 Boston lost the flag in a playoff, and on three other occasions they succumbed on the final day of the regular season, each time to the hated Yankees. Yet the Red Sox have boasted some of baseball's greatest hitters, many of them outfielders. The inviting short wall in left field has resulted in many sluggers piling up home run totals. Unfortunately the same has been true for Boston's opponents, and the Sox pitching staff has often been haunted by "The Green Monster."
The early Red Sox were known as the Americans and Somersets briefly before settling on Pilgrims. The Pilgrims appeared in the first "modern" World Series, in 1903. In that Series veteran hurler Cy Young (the greatest pitcher in Boston history) helped the team past Pittsburgh. Boston repeated as AL champs in 1904 but John McGraw's Giants refused to face them in a post-season playoff. By the early 1910s the Red Sox were known as the Red Sox, moving into Fenway Park in April, 1912. That first season in Fenway saw the Sox win the AL flag and win the World Series. In 1915, 1916, and 1918 the team repeated and won in the post-season each time.
After their 1918 World Series win over the Cubs, the Sox were on top of the baseball globe, having won four titles in seven seasons. But the future was not so bright, and when owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees and dismantled his ball club (often sending stars to New York), the team was destined for the lowest rung of the AL ladder. Starting in 1919 the BoSox began a 15-year string of losing seasons. During that span they dropped at least 100 games in a season five times, and at least 90 games five more times. They were the league doormat, finishing last on nine occasions.
In the late 1930s the team began to improve, under the leadership of shortstop/manager Joe Cronin and thanks to veterans Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove. Then the Sox added Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr and began to challenge the Yankees and Tigers for AL dominance in the 194's. From 1938 through 1951, Boston finished in third place or higher ten times. But the one pennant during that stretch (1946), ended in failure in the World Series -- a loss in seven games to the Cardinals. It would prove to be the lone chance for Williams, Doerr, and star outfielder Dom DiMaggio.
The Sox seemed to finish in fourth place a lot in the 1950s, which doesn't get any sort of award. In the early '60s Williams retired and Carl Yastrzemski took his place in left field beneath the "Green Monster." Yaz would win three batting titles and a triple crown in his 23 seasons with Boston. Before he retired he handed the legendary Red Sox left field torch off to Jim Rice, who in turn passed it to Mike Greenwell in the 1980s.
Yet for all the offensive firepower the Sox continued to unleash on AL pitchers (11 batting championships from 1962-1988), the club could not win the biggest games. In 1967 Yaz won his triple crown and led the team to the Series, where they were vanquished in seven games by St. Louis. In 1972 Detroit nipped Boston on the last day of the regular season, denying the Sox an AL East title. In 1975 Boston rode rookie sensations Rice and Fred Lynn to the pennant only to lose to Cincinnati in a thrilling seven-game World Series.
The ultimate slap in the face came in 1978 when that same Red Sox team built around Rice, Lynn, Yaz, Carlton Fisk, and Luis Tiant, squandered a huge lead and allowed the hated Yankees to catch them in the division race. In a one-game playoff, Bucky Dent did more than dent the Sox season -- he ended it with an unlikely three-run homer. The Red Sox Curse was firmly in place. The Sox should have gone into the 1980s with Rice, Lynn, Fisk, Dwight Evans, and Carney Lansford solidifying their lineup. Instead, Lynn, Fisk, and Lansford were all let go and the team aged slowly. In 1986 young flamethrower Roger Clemens carried the club to victory and after an exciting come-from-behind win in the ALCS over the Angels, it appeared the time was ripe for a Red Sox title. But in the World Series, just one strike from their first championship since 1918, the Sox saw the New York Mets rally to win Game Six. Of course Boston lost Game Seven -- by now it seemed like a law.
Boston made two playoff stops in 1988 and 1990, with batting champion Wade Boggs and Clemens at the lead. By the 1990s the team was in disarray, finishing last in '92 and going through managers Joe Morgan, Butch Hobson, Kevin Kennedy, and Jimy Williams. The team was also forced to watch Jeff Bagwell blossom into a superstar for Houston after the Red Sox had dealt him in a late-season trade. The arrival of Pedro Martinez in 1998 did wonders for the pitching staff and brought two immediate payoffs -- wild card berths in '98 and '99. But once again the Sox failed to capitalize, falling short due to a weak bench and inconsistent defense. In addition, beyond Martinez the team had little pitching.
In 2000 the BoSox were unable to catch the Yankees despite a late-season collapse by New York.
In 2001 Boston imploded by firing Williams as Manager and suspending star outfielder Carl Everett for several embarrassing incidents.
In 2004 the Boston Red Sox...won the World Series. The curse has ended. In an exciting series against the New York Yankees and down 3-0, the Red Sox won 4 straight games in a comeback and then advanced to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals where they won their first World Series in almost 100 years.
In 2006 the Boston Red Sox finished in 3rd place with a 86-76 record.