Marty Barrett remembers the Sox' last streak and talks Vegas golf
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- In Las Vegas, there's no better feeling than being on a roll, whether it's getting on a hot streak at the craps or card tables, or lighting up the links with a string of birdies on one of the valley's myriad golf courses.
Marty Barrett, one of Sin City's favorite sons -- he grew up in Las Vegas and now resides in Summerlin with his family -- knows all about being in the zone, previously in baseball and now on the courses of Nevada.
The former big-league ballplayer, who played in parts of 10 Major League Baseball seasons -- all but a dozen games with the Boston Red Sox -- rode an incredible hot streak during the 1986 postseason, when Boston won the American League pennant but lost the World Series, both in dramatic fashion.
A lifetime .278 hitter and a stellar second baseman, Barrett earned a spot in baseball lore by hitting .400 in the playoffs, cracking a major-league record 24 hits in 14 postseason games.
Barrett, now an avid golfer and a member at Red Rock Country Club, hit .367 (11-for-30) with five RBIs against the then-California Angels en route to American League Championship Series MVP honors. The Red Sox rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the pennant.
Barrett was even better in the World Series, hitting .433 (13-30) with four RBIs against the New York Mets, tying baseball's all-time record for hits in a seven-game World Series with Lou Brock and Bobby Richardson.
Had Boston not blown the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, in which it squandered a 5-3, 10th-inning lead -- capped off by the infamous error by Bill Buckner on a grounder through his legs at first base -- Barrett may have been named World Series MVP as well.
Despite the painful end to that year's playoffs, Barrett -- who, at 45, still looks like he could play for the Sox -- said it remains the highlight of his career.
"There's no question. It doesn't compare to anything else," he said. "I was on fire in the ALCS and the World Series. I couldn't have picked a more perfect time. I broke Thurman Munson's record (for postseason hits).
"I was in a groove. To be able to time it at that part of the year was amazing. I never thought I could achieve those heights when I was younger. I was very fortunate."
Barrett, who still roots for the Red Sox, came up big in the ill-fated sixth game. He drove in a run to give Boston a 2-0 lead early on, scored a run to put the Red Sox ahead, 3-2, and then drove in another run to give Boston a 5-3 lead in the 10th.
"When we scored those two runs, I thought we had it," he said. "I thought we were going to win it."
Boston recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the 10th, before giving up a string of bloop hits, and then reliever Bob Stanley threw a wild pitch, with two strikes, to let the tying run score. Buckner then booted a routine ground ball to first to let the winning run score in a play that will live in infamy.
The Red Sox also blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh game.
"When I see that (Buckner) highlight, I mostly think back to 'We had that Series and we let it get away,'" Barrett said. "All I know is I was so bummed out they had tied it. I thought the wild pitch was the biggest key to that inning.
"It happens in baseball all the time, where a team scores three runs with two outs, but this was the World Series."
Barrett, who led Rancho High School in North Las Vegas, to its last state baseball title, in his senior year of 1976, played a few more seasons after '86, but tore the ACL in his right knee in 1989 and never regained his prior form.
Barrett played a dozen games for the San Diego Padres in 1991 before retiring.
"I hung out another two years (after the knee injury), but I never really got back to where I was," he said.
Barrett, who has been married for 23 years to his high school sweetheart, Robin, and has three children, aspired to be a baseball manager -- and served in that role with the Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Quakes for a season, in 1995 -- but quickly realized he'd rather watch his kids grow up.
His daughter Katy, a senior at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas, is now one of the top girl golfers in the state, but Barrett himself didn't pick up the game of golf until his baseball playing days were done. Barrett, who said he still keeps in touch with former Red Sox teammates Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans and Bruce Hurst, among others -- all of whom he's hit the links with in Las Vegas -- said golf keeps his competitive juices flowing.
He usually plays four times a week, often with fellow Las Vegans Mike and Greg Maddux, the four-time Cy Young Award winner from the Atlanta Braves, and he has a 3-handicap.
"I started as an 18-handicap and knocked a couple strokes off a year, until I'm where I am now," Barrett said. "I've been stuck at a three for the last three years. Every now and then, I shoot a round in the 60s, but not too often.
"I'm pretty consistent in all facets of the game. I'm just kind of a working-man, 3-handicapper."
Barrett has played virtually every golf course in Southern Nevada and has also teed it up in the pro-am portion of the Las Vegas Invitational many times. He said his home course, the Red Rock Country Club, is one of his many favorites.
"It's a great course. There are 36 holes right in the Red Rock foothills, and it's a little cooler there, and the pro shop staff and restaurant staff and management are really incredible," he said. "I also like Bear's Best and Shadow Creek -- that's my favorite -- and South Shore and Southern Highlands.
"They're just nice. They have good layouts and good competition. They're always in really great shape and they have great clubhouse facilities."
While Red Rock recently started offering public play, Bear's Best is the only other public track in the aforementioned list. For tourists, Barrett said he'd also recommend TPC at the Canyons and the Bali Hai Golf Club.
Barrett is very active in the community. After the 1986 World Series, he lent his name to the Marty Barrett Little League to help revive youth baseball in North Las Vegas, and he also donated the van he won as ALCS MVP to the Candlelighters for Childhood Cancer of Southern Nevada.
He also helped find a golf course, Palm Valley in Sun City Summerlin, to support local Faith Lutheran Junior/Senior High School's golf teams, and he still raises money for area youth through his non-profit organization, Baseball Big and Little.
"I like to give back," he said.
Barrett, whose future might include managing in the big leagues and a possible foray into local politics, gets his biggest satisfaction watching his daughter Katy, a 4-handicap, grow as a golfer and a person.
"It makes me so proud to see what she's doing. She dedicated herself to the game," he said. "It's a good learning lesson for life. If you put in the work, you're going to be a success."
Martin Glenn Barrett at a glance
Height and weight: 5-10, 170 pounds as player, now 190
Born: 6-23-58 Arcadia, Calif.
Children: Eric, Katy, Kyle
Best golfer ever played with: Fred Couples (at LVI)
Best baseball player/golfer he knows: Jim Rice
Barrett's dream foursome: Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Barrett
October 12, 2003