BOSTON -- Long before the Red Sox won three championships in the span of a decade, before they snapped the infamous 86-year title drought and the oft-heartbroken fan base could collectively sigh in relief, there was the the 1975 squad that lost one of the greatest World Series ever played.
Celebrating the 40-year anniversary of that historic season, the Red Sox honored several members of the team before Tuesday's game at Fenway Park, introducing players to enthusiastic fan applause before they took the field at their respective positions.
The impressive pregame ceremony was capped off by former Red Sox starter Luis Tiant throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, who stood in between the so-called "gold dust twins," outfielders Jim Rice and Fred Lynn.
"I didn't know I had to throw that first pitch," a smiling Tiant said afterward. "You go out there, do what you have to do. I don't want to fall down. It's kind of slippery. But I don't mind. You feel good being back here."
The '75 Red Sox captured the hearts of many in the region with their heroics. Though they would ultimately lose Game 7 of the World Series to the vaunted Cincinnati Reds, their legacy lives on through images of the team's dramatic Game 6 victory, which was sealed on Fisk's 12th-inning walk-off homer.
Lynn, well-known for becoming the first player to capture Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season, still feels the sting of that season's shortcomings 40 years later.
"We remember the things that didn't go our way," said Lynn. "A lot of things that went right for us, but the key thing didn't. That always stuck in my craw, Game 7. We kind of micromanaged what happened. 'We could have done this, we could have done that.' Just like a fan. Forty years later, we live in these moments. And then we're saying 'Jeez, I wish we could've changed this or that.' But overall it's been a great experience."
Nevertheless, the players cherish several moments from that season, as well. One of the more notable ones came in a July 27 doubleheader, when the Red Sox effectively knocked the rival Yankees out of contention with a pair of shutout victories.
Starting pitcher Bill Lee still claims it as his favorite memory from that season.
"I beat them 1-0, [Roger] Moret beat them 6-0, they fired their manager and we kind of put the Yankees on the backburner," Lee said. "We had nobody to catch us and took off from there."
Current members of the Red Sox joined in the celebration by donning white 1975 throwback jerseys, complete with high socks.
"Obviously a special year for all they really accomplished," Boston manager John Farrell said. "It stands for us to recognize that group. We've been fortunate to get to know some of the individuals personally that were on that team. Some colorful, some maybe not as much. I think it's one of the benefits of playing for and working for such a historic franchise. You've got markers over a long period time you can highlight."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.