Game Six of '75 WS named 'Greatest Game'

Game Six of '75 WS named 'Greatest Game'

Published May. 22, 2011 12:38 p.m. ET


Game Six of the 1975 World Series between the Reds and Boston Red Sox has been chosen as the Major League Baseball Network's "Greatest Game" of the past 50 years.

The game is known in the shorthand as "The Carlton Fisk Game" (12th inning home run by Red Sox catcher).

Viewers of the final episode of "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" will get to see Game Six celebrated from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday on MLBN. A one-hour recap of the greatest games' series will air on MLBN at 7 p.m., leading into "Game Six."

The show features interviews, video highlights and a variety of "in the moment" analyses and commentaries by several players, including Johnny Bench, interviewed on the set by Bob Costas and Tom Verducci.

In the "Game Six" show, Bench tells a story about former Reds pitcher Clay Kirby, who was warming up in the bullpen late in the game at Boston's Fenway Park.

There won't be any giving away of secrets here, but suffice to say that Bench's vignette is one that hardly anybody has ever heard before. And if he's ever before shared it publicly, it has escaped attention. Not even the acclaimed book, "Game Six," by Mark Frost, gives it anything but the scantest of mentions. And yet it was something that could have change the entire direction of Game Six.

So, how did the taping go?

"Beyond well," Costas told the Enquirer only a few hours after the taping.

"Bench ... is a natural performer with tremendous insight, and he peppered (his analysis) with anecdotes and entertaining asides," Costas said. "Lynn was also tremendously perceptive…What's true of them has held true throughout the series: Most of the guys haven't seen the game in question except in highlight form since they played in it. We get to take them through it as they're watching it (for the first time)…

"They're riveted on the action, watching every pitch intently, almost as if they're re-living it…And even if you're someone who follows the game closely, you think you remember more than you do. You forget all the options…that could have changed the direction and outcome of the game."

Costas said he believes the Game Six show is the best of the 20 episodes in the "Greatest Games" series, which befits Game Six's status as an iconic matchup, one that occurred just before the advent of free agency. It was also part of a terrific seven-game World Series (five of the seven games were decided by one run) with all sorts of twists and turns.

"(Game Six is) like casting a group of Hollywood all-stars to do a movie, and they all give their best performances ever and then they say, ‘That's it, we're not doing any movies together ever again,' '' said senior producer Bruce Cornblatt. "How big of a classic would that be?"

That is the quality which adds to Game Six's uniqueness, Costas said.

"You have all these (future) Hall of Famers and near Hall of Famers involved in that game," he said.

Among the Reds superstars were Bench, Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, future Most Valuable Player George Foster, and Davey Concepcion, one of the greatest shortstops of all-time. On the other side were Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Lynn (1975 American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player), Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans, who makes one of the greatest catches ever in Game Six, off Morgan. (Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice, another future Hall of Famer, was injured and couldn't play in the World Series.)

Also, some time just for the heck of it, go through the highlights of that World Series (and the 1976 World Series, too, for that matter) and see how many times Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Sr. is in the middle of the action. Morgan has often said that the most difficult Red for opposing pitchers to handle was Griffey, because he had no weaknesses as a hitter.

Costas recalls watching Game Six as a young man 36 years ago when he was a play-by-play announcer in the last year of the Spirits of St. Louis of the soon-to-be defunct American Basketball Association.

Asked if he recognized at the time that Game Six would go down in history as of the greatest ever, Costas said:

"Are you kidding me? It had everything."

Bench put it into perspective during the taping of the "Game Six" show.

"That's what the worst part of that whole sixth game was -- the fear that we wouldn't win the seventh game," Bench said.

When one lets a game like that "get away" – already the Big Red Machine had lost World Series in 1970 and 1972 and could easily have lost Game Seven in 1975 – "it's really going to be devastating," Bench said.

Game Six went past 12:30 in the morning, Bench said, "and still nobody (had) gone to bed. I mean, everybody in America saw that game and all of the sudden baseball was great again.