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Grad Joins Sox Hall Of Fame

Grad Joins Sox Hall Of FameCy Young winner and Tufts grad Jim Lonborg - who led the Red Sox to the World Series in 1967 - will be added to the team's Hall of Fame this fall.

Boston [08.12.02] The first Red Sox pitcher to earn the Cy Young award, Jim Lonborg will long be remembered by fans for his domination on the mound during Boston's 1967 "Impossible Dream" season. Last week, the Tufts graduate and Red Sox legend was given an official place in Boston sports lore, when the team announced that he will be among the newest additions to the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

"No player in the history of the World Series, before or since, did what Jim Lonborg did in 1967," reported The Boston Globe. "Lonborg still holds the record for the fewest hits given up in back-to-back starts, when he was simply brilliant in Games Two and Five in the great Series with the St. Louis Cardinals that year."

Last week, the Red Sox organization announced that Lonborg - who graduated from Tufts' Dental School after his major league baseball career ended - will join teammate Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Carleton Fisk, Johnny Pesky and other team legends in the Sox Hall of Fame.

A seven-season player for the Sox, Lonborg led the American League in 1967 with 22 wins, 39 starts and 246 strikeouts. That same year, he was named to the All Star Team and threw a complete game to clinch the pennant.

"Initially, it was what you would dream about in Little League," Lonborg said, describing the emotions he felt on the mound after winning the pennant in an article on the Major League Baseball website. "The winning pitcher, being on the mount to win the pennant, everyone congratulating me. But a few minutes later, you realize you're not going where you want to go. I was trying to get back in the dugout. Thank God for the Boston police, they were able to control the crowd. It was delirium."

But his biggest accomplishment came during the 1967 World Series against the heavily-favored St. Louis Cardinals.

"He threw a 5-0 one-hitter in Game Two of the World Series and a 3-1 three-hitter in Game Five on his way to 17 consecutive scoreless innings against the ... Cardinals," reported the Red Sox in an announcement about Lonborg's selection to the Hall of Fame.

Taking the field during the World Series, Lonborg told the Globe, was unforgettable.

"Pitching in the World Series is the greatest," he told the newspaper. "There is so much adrenaline flowing, you completely forget all of the aches and pains that have built up during the season, and you just go after it."

And go after it, he did.

In his first World Series start, Lonborg retired the first 19 batters he faced, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

"I remember feeling early on in that game that I was in what athletes describe as a zone," he told the Globe.

Unlike today's pitchers, the Red Sox legend didn't have much information about the batters he was facing.

"We didn't have scouting reports in those days like they do now. We might get a couple of lines on each hitter, like 'first-ball fastball hitter' or 'can't hit the breaking pitch,'" he told the Globe. "It was just the most basic information. So I decided that I was just going to go after them my way. They had a big reputation. The dominated the National League that year. They were supposed to have the best hitting club in the majors."

Held to just one hit, the Cardinals were baffled by Lonborg during Game Two. During his second start in Game Five, they could only muster three hits on their way to another loss.

But fate - or the Red Sox' legendary curse - stepped in.

Pitching on just two days of rest, Lonborg lost Game Seven and the Sox lost the Series. But that doesn't tarnish the Tufts graduate's memories.

"I was blessed to be a Major League ballplayer for 15 years," he said in a report on the Major League Baseball website.

Several years after a skiing accident, which helped bring his baseball career to an early end, Lonborg wanted a change of pace.

He decided to become a dentist.

"The life of a dentist is a little more realistic, a little more grounded," he told MLB.com. "I've enjoyed my patients and their families, providing service to them. A lot of people take it for granted but I take it very seriously."

After completing his degree at Tufts, Lonborg opened a practice in Hanover, Massachusetts.

While in the office, he puts his legendary status behind him.

"Ideally, I'm Dr. Lonborg," he told MLB.com. "Most people involved in healthcare, they don't care if you played baseball or were a radio announcer, they want to make sure you're taking care of their needs. That's how I approach my care to people. The fact many of them are baseball fans gives me an entrée to making them feel more comfortable."

Photos courtesy Major League Baseball and the Boston Herald.

 

 

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