Loss in '86 cruellest memory

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

BOSTON -- Like a lot of mother's in the 1980s, Sharon Murphy would return home after a hard day's work to find her son in front of the basement TV.

An elementary school teacher, Murphy didn't quite understand walking into her Pawtucket, R.I., home to see her young son, David, watching a tape of the Game 6 from Oct. 25 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets.

Over and over.

One of three things would happen when mom saw what her son was watching.

Sometimes she'd walk to the VCR and turn it off.

Other afternoons she'd ask, "Why? Why on earth are you watching that?" and leave the room.

And sometimes, even though she knew better, Sharon Murphy would sit down on the couch and watch.

"Eventually, mom would get choked up and leave the room," David Murphy said.

The ending was always the same. A 5-3 Sox lead gone ... in an instant.

Muprhy was four years old when the Sox lost.

"I was so young in 1986 that the loss didn't bother me emotionally, I was just happy to see the Sox play in the Series," Murphy said last night inside the bowels of Fenway before Game 4 of the American League championship series.

A year ago, he was a tour guide at Fenway.

Now, he is an administrator in club relations for Major League Baseball.

His parents have told and re-told him of that night.

"The talk on radio all day was, 'where do you want to be when the Sox finally win the World Series? Who do you want to be with?' " Murphy said.

Greg and Sharon Murphy invited their relatives, Gail and Kevin Mulligan, over, with the Sox holding a 3-2 series lead. Boston entered the bottom of the 10th with a 5-3 advantage.

Calvin Schiraldi made the first two outs and then ... then things started happening.

The adults awoke their children: David, four, Meghan two and their twin cousins, Caitlin and Elizabeth.

"They wanted everyone to be awake so we could say we saw the Sox win the World Series," David Murphy said. "They had the champagne ready and were undoing the cork..."

And then, Gary Carter singled, Kevin Mitchell had a pinch-hit single and Ray Knight singled to knock in a run sending Mitchell to third.

Manager John McNamara hooked Schiraldi for Bob Stanley, who threw a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score.

Mookie Wilson hit a dribbler down the first-base line where defensive replacement Dave Stapleton had been for every post-season Sox game. Except Bill Buckner and his bad knees were still at first. Buckner bent over like a man with an aching balk and the ball skidded into right as Knight scored the game winner to even the series 3-3.

That night, and Game 1 of the 1988 Series when Kirk Gibson hit a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-run homer off Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A's, are the only two nights in a press box we've heard 200 people curse at the same time. Stories about the Sox breaking the curse died, like the A's taking a 1-0 lead.

"The next day, no one my parents spoke to thought the Sox had a chance, except my father, after Game 7 was rained out and McNamara went to Bruce Hurst instead of Oil Can Boyd," Murphy said.

Hurst pitched five scoreless and had a 3-0 lead before the Mets won 8-5.

A year ago, when Aaron Boone homered in the 11th inning of Game 7, people told Murphy that Boone would be his generation's Bucky Dent or Buckner.

"I think the Yankees were a better team last year," Murphy said, "but in 1986, the Sox had it won and they gave it back."


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