Acquired over the previous offseason, right-hander Pedro Martinez electrified the Fenway Park crowd like few others before him. With Martinez dominating every fifth day, the Red Sox earned a Wild Card berth but were bounced once again by the Indians in the ALDS.
Record: 92-70, 2nd in American League East (Wild Card)
Manager: James F. Williams
Postseason: Played in American League Division Series
In Fenway Park's 1998 home opener, Seattle's Randy Johnson struck out 15 Boston hitters through eight innings and left with a 7-2 lead. Undeterred, the Red Sox staged a furious comeback against Seattle closer and former teammate Heathcliff Slocumb in the bottom of the ninth and ended the game on a Mo Vaughn walk-off grand slam. Vaughn had endured a tumultuous offseason after his involvement in a January auto accident but all was forgotten when the first baseman hit the slam. As Vaughn circled the bases, the Fenway PA system began playing The Standells' "Dirty Water," which quickly became a Fenway Park tradition. The song is still played after every Red Sox home win.
Pedro Martinez pitched his first game in Fenway Park the following afternoon and struck out 12 in a two-hit, complete game shut out. As the year progressed, more and more Dominican flags appeared at Fenway Park. Martinez went 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts in first season with the Red Sox.
A fully-healthy Bret Saberhagen contributed a 15-8 season and Tim Wakefield went 17-8. Tom Gordon became the closer and saved 46 games in 1998.
The Red Sox finished well behind the 114-win Yankees in the AL East but the team qualified for the Wild Card and earned an American League Division Series matchup with the Indians.
After losing 13 consecutive postseason games, the Red Sox finally broke the streak with an 11-3 victory over Cleveland in Game One. However they promptly lost the next three games and were eliminated from playoff competition.
Due to uncooperative weather, the 1998 Baseball Beanpot didn't have a tournament winner. Harvard and the University of Massachusetts won their semi-final games and were ready to meet up in the championship on April 23, but rain forced a postponement and the game was eventually cancelled. In late June, a team of Massachusetts High School All-Stars beat a collection of Connecticut High School All-Stars, 2-1.
|1998 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|April 21||Harvard 11, Northeastern 0 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*|
|April 21||University of Massachusetts 7, Boston College 2 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*|
|April 23||Boston College 9, Northeastern 8 (7 innings) (Beanpot Consolation)*|
|June 24||Massachusetts High School All-Stars 2, Connecticut High School All-Stars 1|
*Starting in 1990, Fenway Park has hosted the annual Baseball Beanpot, baseball's version of the longstanding Boston hockey tradition. Originally, the competition featured the same schools that battle for Hockey Beanpot: Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University. However, when BU dropped their baseball program after the 1995 season, the University of Massachusetts took their place. The Baseball Beanpot has been held at Fenway Park every year since its inception except for in 2004 and 2010, when the tournament was played at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA.