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World Series tickets: priceless
By Ben Bulkeley
Monday, October 25, 2004
Media Credit: AP Photo
The hub of the universe, the Athens of North America, and last Saturday night, the undisputed sports capital of the country. Boston was abuzz last weekend, as the venerable old yard in the Fens hosted its first World Series in the hub since 1986. While Brooks Brothers nation held court at the Head of the Charles rowing regatta earlier in the afternoon, Red Sox Nation converged on Fenway park for the nightcap of what could only be described as a sports fans dream day. The Saturday evening date between the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals and the destiny defying Boston Red Sox was shaping up to be a battle for the ages, pitting two cities against each other that can't get enough of America's pastime. No need to be woken up New Englanders, you're not dreaming.
John Updike once described Fenway Park as "a little bandbox of a ballpark," and Saturday night his words proved prophetic. It took half an hour to move from the gates to the seats as the cavernous old structure seemed to be on its last legs. When Fenway opened in 1912, the architects surely did not envision its paying customers feeling like they were situated inside a tin of sardines, but unfortunately their nightmare came to fruition. Not to be outdone, Cardinal fans filled the yard as well, loyal to the core on a chilly and gray night, rooting for their beloved franchise. A franchise that trails only the New York Yankees in World Series championships. Once our seats became a reality, so did the magnitude of the moment. I was about to watch the team that I have rooted for since I was seven years old try to break the abominable "Curse of the Bambino."
Beloved Sox legend Carl Yaztremski, Yaz to all New Englanders who were alive in 1967, threw out the first pitch and fired a strike. Yaz's strike was unfortunately not a precursor to the game that soon followed. The Red Sox got off to a quick start as David Ortiz, known affectionately as "Big Papi," continued his October assault for the Red Sox with a three-run bomb that snaked around the Pesky pole like a rocket that exploded into the right field grandstand. The place was in delirium, and the weather could do nothing to cool down the red hot Sox batters and their wooden weapons.
Up five runs early, Red Sox Nation had visions of a World Series sweep dancing in their heads, but the Cardinals ended the notion with a spirited uprising that resulted in a tie game in the seventh inning. Always the adventure in right field, Manny Ramirez once again added to his myriad of Manny moments with a pair of errors after the Sox had taken back the lead. An eerie silence resonated over Fenway: the once raucous throngs reacting nervously to the transgressions of the home team's gloves. The weather had gotten worse; the temperature had dropped considerably, as had the hopes of Red Sox Nation.
Moments after the nervous nation belted out "Sweet Caroline," Mark Bellhorn ended the fretting with a clutch, two-run homer that clanged off the pesky pole in right. The throngs rejoiced; the Cardinals sulked and all was right with the world. Keith Foulke shut the door on the Redbirds in the ninth, and as "Dirty Water" blared out across the yard, Sox fans tried to come to grips with the surreal realization that their team was only three victories away from the unthinkable. Yawkey Way quickly turned into a giant red sea of exaltation as the ecstatic patrons filed out into the cold New England night. Even Updike could not have penned a more perfect scene.
The city remained awash in Red Sox fever early in the morning hours. Up and down Boylston Street, less fortunate Sox fans forced to watch their heroes on television, poured out of their customary watering holes to join in the mostly well mannered celebration. Kenmore Square soon became the hot spot for various college students, eager to get a taste of the action. Newbury Street crawled with tourists and fans alike, the cold weather failing to put a damper on the evening's festivities. The Red Sox sat on the verge of winning their first world series in 86 years, and the Olde Town, hard by the banks of the Charles river, was more than gracious in hosting the party. Even if the dream is not realized, the experience will forever remain priceless. On a crisp October night in the Back Bay, I had the opportunity to watch my beloved Boston Red Sox fight and claw to bring a tired nation its just reward. Go Sox, reverse the curse.
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