Where are they now? Fred Lynn

Where are they now? Fred Lynn

BOSTON -- These days, Fred Lynn doesn't make it back to Fenway Park more than three series per year. Living in San Diego, the cross-country trek isn't easy to do any more often.

Lynn spaces his trips out -- one in April, another in July and one more in September. And when he comes back, he takes pleasure in seeing old teammates such as Jim Rice and Luis Tiant. All of the memories start coming back to them.

"When I'm out on the West Coast, I don't think about it much. But when I'm with the guys, we start talking about baseball," said Lynn, whose latest trip back to Fenway was in late July, when the Red Sox hosted the Yankees. "Jimmy [Rice] and I talk about golf; we're golfers. When we hook up, we take on all comers."

Take on all comers? Sounds a lot like Rice and Lynn during the 1975 season. The rookie duo, known as the "Gold Dust Twins," bolstered the heart of the Boston lineup and helped propel the team into the World Series, a heart-breaking seven-game defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.

Lynn's arrival into the big leagues that year was unlike anyone. He won both the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in 1975, with Rice coming in closely behind him in both categories. Only Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 can claim the same honor.

"I can't remember two rookies coming on the same team and having that type of impact," Lynn said. "Obviously we helped the club, and had Jimmy not gotten hit by Vern Ruhle [by a pitch that broke a bone in his wrist] in late September, we would've had him in the World Series. We might not have had to wait until 2004."

But unfortunate happenings like that were the norm for the 1970s Red Sox, and despite having strong seasons in '75 and '78, Lynn's Sox did not win a championship. Lynn, a nine-time All Star, played his final game for the Sox in 1980 before spending the remainder of his 17-year career with California, Baltimore, Detroit and San Diego.

ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman

Since then, Lynn has spent time broadcasting games on the West Coast for ESPN and CBS, as well as the College World Series. More recently, he's worked at the corporate level with Major League Baseball and helped to raise money for charities such as Cystic Fibrosis, breast cancer and Childhaven -- a facility for neglected kids between the ages of three and 18.

His allegiance to the Red Sox organization is still a strong one, and he takes part in charity golf outings with the club during his trips back to Boston. Lynn was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.

It's only second nature for Lynn to bask in the success the Red Sox have experienced in the past four years while thinking about how close his teams came three decades ago.

"In '78, we won 99 games and didn't make the playoffs," he said. "That's a lot of wins not to make the playoffs. But that's the way it was, we could never get over the hump. The Yankees were our nemesis in those days, and they were just one better than us.

"So, that made 2004 that much sweeter for the fans."

With that success comes an admitted change in Red Sox Nation, one that is visible and understandable to Lynn.

"It's different," he said. "If they lose a tough game, we'll get them tomorrow. It wasn't like that before. It was life or death every game. [Now] the people have already won, so they're relaxed. They're still intense, but they're relaxed."

So is Lynn, who just enjoys being back and joining the past with the present.

"When I see those guys," he said, "obviously a lot of things come back to us."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.