View Full Version : "Afternoon Delight!"

01-12-2018, 06:49 PM
“Sky rockets in flight…afternoon delight!” Fireworks over Boston? The Fourth of July? No, it’s not night-time...it’s day-time. And, it’s not July, it’s late-May. May 23, 1957. I’m sitting in an unreserved grandstand seat at Fenway Park. On a week-day! During the school-year. Playing hooky? No. I’m legit.

It’s “Prize Drill” Day at my Boston high school. Seniors, Juniors and Sophomores (I’m a Freshman) dress up in khaki uniforms, complete with epaulets and patches. They carry Springfield Rifles. They paraded around our tarred schoolyard. It’s an annual event.

As I recall, that afternoon, the Red Sox were playing the Cleveland Indians. Fenway Park's nearly empty. The Red Sox, in the late-50s, are in “No Where Land". The Sox hurler that day was a righty named Tom Brewer. Indians manager, Kirby Farrell, countered with a southpaw named Bud Daley. The Sox jump out to a quick 3-0 lead (that would be but a prelude of things to come). Daley proved ineffective. He got “the hook”.

Daley was relieved in the 5th inning by the man with the longest name in Major League Baseball, an Andarko, OK native (50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City) named: Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish . McLish was of Native-American heritage (McLish’s father, John, was part-Choctaw; his mother, Lulu, part-Cherokee).

In 1944, during WW II, when he was just 18-years of age, McLish started his MLB career with the Brooklyn Dodgers (Joe Nauxhall, then a 15-year old, started pitching for the Cincinnati Reds).

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox led off with infielder Gene Mauch. Mauch homered into the left field net. The next batter, Ted Williams, went deep to right. Jackie Jensen followed; he walked. The next two batters, Dick Gernert and Frank Malzone, both homered over the left-field wall. The thunderous display of power exhibited by Red Sox batters was over in a flash, just ten minutes. It took only sixteen pitches.
The Red Sox went on from there to cruise to an 11-0 win.

Those four Red Sox homers in an inning had tied a then existent American League record. The record had been established by the 1940 Boston Red Sox. In those pre-WW II days, Philadelphia Athletics’ pitcher George Caster served up home runs to Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin and Jim Tabor. Years later, the Minnesota Twins would become the first American League team to hit five home runs in an inning.

On April 22, 2006, the then Milwaukee Brewers tied a NL record when they connected for five home runs in an inning against the Cincinnati Reds. Bill Hall, Damian Miller, Brady Clark, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder hit the round-trippers.

As I watched the Red Sox’s sixth inning "fireworks-display" on that late-May afternoon at Fenway, all I could think of were those Fourth of July fireworks celebrations that my parents would take me to see at Boston’s Franklin Field. Later, I would think about the lyrics to a song by the Starland Vocal Band: "Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon Delight. Ahh...Ahh... Afternoon Delight!"