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The State of the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry

May 5, 2023
Boston vs Yankees

There are passionate rivalries in all sports. Think Ohio State-Michigan in college football, the Bears-Packers in the NFL, and Toronto-Montreal in the NHL. In baseball, there are a few old rivalries but none that bring out the craziness that is the Yankees and the Red Sox.

From its very beginning, this rivalry has been heated. It all started with a brawl.


Red Sox Success

Boston was one of the charter franchises of the American League. From its very beginning, the team had success. From the beginning of the AL in 1901 through 1918, the Red Sox won five World Series titles. 

The Yankees didn’t have that kind of success early though they did manage to win their first World Series title in 1923. New York would win it all again in 1927 and ‘28 and then became the dominant franchise of the 1930s as the Red Sox wallowed in mediocrity.


The Curse of the Bambino

If you are unaware, Babe Ruth began his baseball career with the Red Sox. In 1919, he was sold to the Yankees. Boston would not win another World Series for 86 years. Ruth would go on to continue his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees and make New York the class of Major League Baseball.

Ruth would lead the Yankees to seven World Series titles and lead the AL in home runs 12 times. His career ended in 1934 and he held the MLB record for most homers at the time (714). Despite Ruth’s absence the Yankees would win four straight World Series titles from 1936 to 1939. It’s during that time frame that the rivalry really got started.


The Brawl

It was Memorial Day 1938 in front of a record crowd of over 83,000. The defending World Series champion Yankees were ahead 7-0 in the fourth inning of the first game of a doubleheader. 

Red Sox reliever Archie McKain promptly threw a heater at the head of Yankees OF Jake Powell. That pitch missed its target, but McKain’s next throw landed directly in Powell’s thigh. Since Boston starting pitcher Lefty Grove had already thrown at Powell, he ended up charging the mound starting a brawl of epic proportions.

New York would go on to win the game 10-0. The Yankees would also win the AL pennant and another World Series. But, Red Sox Jimmie Foxx won the AL MVP that year. Boston would win an AL pennant in 1946 as the roster was built around a guy named Ted Williams. 


Recent History

In 2003, Boston and New York would meet in the ALCS. The series went a full seven games and New York beat the favorite Red Sox to advance to the World Series. The two teams would meet again in 2004. Boston trailed 3-0 in the series and embarked on a monumental comeback. 

Down 4-3 in Game 4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox would go on to win in the bottom of the 12th on a homer by David Ortiz. Boston became the first team to win a best-of-seven series after being down 3-0 in MLB history. The Red Sox went on to break the Curse of the Bambino and win the World Series.

Boston would win titles again in 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2018. The Yankees won three straight from 1998 to 2000 under manager Joe Torre. New York won the World Series in 2009 and hasn’t been back to the postseason since. 


Series Stats

The Yankees and Red Sox, who have yet to play in 2023, have met 2,323 times in MLB history. New York holds the advantage with 1,259 wins and a record of 1,259-1,050-14. In the postseason, the teams are tied at 12 wins each. 

The longest winning streak in the series is held by Boston, which dominated early. The Red Sox won 17 straight in 1911 and 1912. The Yankees won 12 straight in 1936, again in 1952-53, and once more in 1952-53. Currently, New York has won the last six straight games in the series. 

Neither Boston nor New York has enjoyed much success in the first month-plus of the new season. The Red Sox are currently fourth in the AL East and New York is last in the division, though both teams are over .500. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry continues when the two teams meet for the first time in 2023 on June 9 at Yankee Stadium.