why this team?: in 1986, the red sox returned to the world series for the fourth time since their last title. and, for the fourth time, they lost the series in seven games. before that, however, they won 95 games and orchestrated one of the greatest postseason comebacks in the alcs against the california angels.
which players are featured?: bill buckner, bruce hurst, dave henderson, dwight evans, jim rice, tom seaver, and wade boggs.
why these players?: well, we have three red sox legends, a couple of guys remembered for their 1986 postseason play, a hall of famer on his last legs, and bruce hurst. let's break it down.
bill buckner joined the red sox during the 1984 season, and so missed out on the cubs' return to the postseason that year. two years later, he was still with the red sox as thier primary first baseman, and helped them get back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons. he hit .267 with 18 homers and 102 rbi during the course of the regular season, and then hit just .214 and .188 in the alcs and world series, respectively. the memorable moments card, of course, highlights the error in the bottom of the 10th of game 6 of the world series in which mookie wilson's ground ball went through buckner's legs to allow ray knight to, in the words of vin scully, 'come around to score and the mets win it!' never mind that it was calvin schiraldi who gave up three straight singles and failed to get the third out after retiring the first two batters, and bob stanley whose wild pitch allowed the tying run to score and knight to move into scoring position during wilson's at bat that were the real goats of the inning, not buckner. in my opinion, anyway.
bruce hurst was 13-8 with a 2.99 era over 31 starts (and four relief appearances) for the red sox in 1986. he made two starts against the angels in the alcs, winning game 2 with a complete game and then holding the angels to three runs over 6 innings in the big game 5. he started games 1, 5, and 7 in the world series, winning the first two before getting a no-decision in the red sox's game 7 loss.
dave henderson was acquired by the red sox during august of 1986 in a trade with the mariners. he played center field for the red sox down the stretch, but hit just .196 with 1 home run in his 36 regular season games. in the alcs, henderson was held out of the starting lineup for the first 5 games, getting just one at bat in game 4 before he entered game 5 as a defensive replacement for tony armas in the 5th inning. hendu struck out in the 7th inning, but then hit a two-out, two-run, go-ahead home run off of donnie moore in the top of the 9th inning to save the red sox's season. after the angels tied the game in the bottom of the 9th, henderson's sacrifice fly in the 11th plated the winning run, and the red sox lived to play another day. although henderson did not get another hit in the series (he was 1 for 11 overall), his home run was enough to propel the red sox into the world series. in the fall classic, henderson was reinstated to the starting lineup and hit .400 with 2 home runs and 5 rbi in the seven games.
dwight evans was boston's everyday right fielder for the last time in 1986. he played all 149 of his games that year in right, before splitting his time between right and first base and eventually designated hitter for the sox in future years. overall, he hit .259 with 26 home runs and 97 rbi during the regular season, and then hit .308 with two homers and 9 rbi in the world series.
jim rice was once again manning left field for the red sox in 1986. he played in 157 games (only one of which saw him not in left) and hit .324 with 20 homers and 110 rbi. he finished third in the league mvp voting, and was named to the all-star team for the 8th time in his career. in his first taste of postseason action, rice hit .161 against the angels in the alcs, although he had 2 homers and 6 rbi, and then hit .333 against the mets, although he was without a home run or rbi in the world series.
tom seaver finished up his hall of fame career by spending the last part of the 1986 season in boston. acquired by trade from the white sox in late june, tom terrific was 5-7 with a 3.80 era in 16 starts for the bosox. seaver suffered a knee injury late in the season and did not appear in any games for the red sox during the postseason.
wade boggs won his third batting title in four years in 1986, although his league leading .357 clip was the lowest of his five total career titles. he had over 200 hits for the fourth straight year (he would have three more of those to follow), and led the league in walks and obp as well. the angels held him to a .233 average in the alcs, and even the mets kept him below .300 (.290) in the world series.
the stadium on the back is...?: fenway park, home of the red sox since 1912
did upper deck get it right?: the elephant in the room as far as player selection goes is tom seaver. he was not a big part of this team's legacy, but he was already on the set checklist thanks to the 1969 miracle mets. roger clemens, the team's ace, was still active in 2004 and so was not a candidate for the set which is comprised solely of retired players. with that, the biggest absence then is don baylor. baylor could have been a part of the 1979 angels subset, as well as the upcoming 1987 twins subset. not sure whether upper deck tried to get him for the set or not.
the photos all look good for 1986 (it's tough to tell with the red sox unis). the henderson and rice photos both come from the 1986 world series, and the seaver is definitely from 1986 since that is the only season in which he wore the red sox uniform.
is this team timeless?: yes, but not for the right reason. timeless in an 'oh so close' way - a cautionary tale of sorts.