Author brings '75 Series classic to life

Author brings '75 Series classic to life

CINCINNATI -- It was arguably the greatest game of what many consider the greatest World Series ever played.

Author Mark Frost discovered that there was even more to the drama that made Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Reds and Red Sox so memorable. The game concluded with one of baseball's all-time greatest moments, seemingly still frozen in time -- Carlton Fisk's game-winning home run in the 12th inning that sent the series to a decisive seventh game.

As the sixth game played on Oct. 21, 1975, Frost was a television writer of two episodes of "The Six Million Dollar Man" who would eventually work on acclaimed shows like "Hill Street Blues" and "Twin Peaks." He was watching the epic game on TV at home in Los Angeles, and although a Dodgers fan, was entirely transfixed by every twist and turn in Game 6.

Thirty-four years later, Frost and publisher Hyperion released his book about that night, "Game Six: Cincinnati, Boston and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America's Pastime."

"I just felt watching that series -- and the game in particular -- that it was the most exciting and most thrilling sporting event I had ever seen, let alone baseball game," said Frost, also the author of best sellers "The Match" and "The Greatest Game Ever Played".

"It just seemed laden with all sorts of significance above and beyond the game itself. That feeling stuck with me over time. I knew I wanted to write something about baseball, and why not try to pick the game that meant the most to me?"

Through the book's 378 pages, there are few moments before, after and during Game 6 that were beneath description.

"I wanted to really create for readers a time machine of what it was like to be in Fenway Park that night," Frost said.

Through research and interviews, Frost vividly detailed nearly every pitch and at-bat, but with the use of frequent flashbacks. He also placed every moment into context with background about the players, managers, umpires executives, media, fans and Fenway Park itself.

Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn and Joe Morgan were among the superstars of the time who are featured in detail. But so are lesser-known players like Bernie Carbo, Ed Armbrister, Denny Doyle, Jack Billingham, Rico Petrocelli, umpire Larry Barnett and others.

Mixed throughout the book are anecdotes about the founding of both the Reds and Red Sox, the events that led to the first World Series in 1903, how Tom Yawkey became owner of the Red Sox, and more. It recalls a time when baseball was suffering dwindling attendance and television ratings, and a country that was still in the wake of the Watergate scandal and mired in a troubled economy.

"I wanted to find a way to weave all of it together," Frost said of the use of flashback storytelling. "Telling the story as the game progressed seemed to be the best way to do that."

Of all the people detailed in the book, no two had more pages dedicated than Reds manager Sparky Anderson and Red Sox ace starting pitcher Luis Tiant.

Frost, who watched a tape of Game 6 at the home of the Hall of Fame skipper, detailed Anderson's youth with humble beginnings as a batboy at the University of Southern California, his time as a Minor League player, and how he got his famous nickname.

"I actually got to sit down and watch the game with Sparky and talk through it with him and see it through his eyes," Frost said. "The more I appreciated his point of view and the way he pulled together a very talented -- but by no means united -- team when he took over and built them into a cohesive unit."

For Tiant, Frost traced his childhood growing up in Cuba as the son of a Negro League pitcher and his struggles to reach the Mexican League and big leagues. Also described was a tearful reunion with Tiant's parents, who were unable to leave Fidel Castro's Cuba for over a decade until the middle of the 1975 season.

"Once I started to talk with the guys on that team, I got a rounded picture of what it was like in that clubhouse," Frost said. "It seemed pretty clear that when Luis Tiant arrived in Boston, that's when that team pulled together. He was the guy that made it all work. "

Of course, everyone knows the outcome of the 1975 World Series. Despite Fisk's dramatic homer over the Green Monster, the Reds won Game 7 for the first of two straight World Series that solidified the Big Red Machine as one of the best teams ever.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox and their fans enhanced a reputation as long-suffering fatalists that wasn't erased until Boston won two World Series titles in the first decade of the 21st century.

What made the game, and the series, transcendent through the years?

"It was a turbulent time in the country's history. America, like America's pastime, was going through a really rough patch," Frost said. "All of a sudden this series and these two teams sort of pulled the game out of its doldrums with these remarkable contests.

"It was an extraordinary moment where baseball pulled itself together and I think lived up to the heart of its relationship and what it meant to the country. It thrilled people like it hadn't for an awfully long time."

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