Today, Jason Varitek will announce he is retiring as a player with the Boston Red Sox. This will leave the 2012 version of the Red Sox with only two players who were associated with the 2004 World Championship team. That band of wonderful “Idiots” who chose to boldly go where no team had gone before!
There were so many aspects of that experience that it is sometimes difficult to comprehend. However, looking back to nearly a decade ago, the champagne tastes as sweet and the memories of joy linger like the scent of the finest bouquet.
Conjuring those delicious memories, I am hard-pressed to determine what was the most impressive aspect of the Boston Red Sox bringing the 2004 World Championship home to Fenway Park and the 14,000,000 people of New England.
Was it this guy?
David Ortiz hit .387 in the 2004 ALCS and had three home runs and 11 RBI. He had the game winning hits in games four and five and followed it up hitting .308 with a home run and four RBI in the World Series. His first inning homer in game one at Fenway set the tone for the completion of the Red Sox October miracle.
Or maybe this guy?
Curt Schilling whose effort in game six of the ALCS was one of the gutsiest performances in the history of sports. He was brave, courageous and bold; long will live his fame, and long will live his glory and long will his story be told!
Perhaps this one,
Johnny Damon scuffled along in the ALCS until he hit a grand slam in the second inning of game seven at Yankee Stadium and then a two run shot in the fourth giving the Sox and insurmountable 8-1 lead.
Or how about him,
Derek Lowe became the only pitcher in baseball history to win the clinching games in the Division Series, the ALCS and the World Series in the same season! His imprint is eternally embedded in the sidewalk of Fenway folklore!
Or maybe even him,
Keith Foulke pitched 14 post-season innings in 2004 and gave up only one run and four hits. He was on the mound when 86 years of anguish erupted into pure, unadulterated joy!
The 2004 post season was a microcosm of Fenway Park history. The dismissal of the Angels in three games in the ALDS was reminiscent of the early days of Fenway Park when the Red Sox ruled baseball. The drubbing they received in the first three games of the ALCS at the hands of the Yankees represented the post Ruth era when they were doormats. The next three games in which they evened that series was their return to respectability, representing all those “close but no cigar” years……
and ’86’ ugh!
And game seven belonged to them, this band of misfits and idiots who loved each other, loved the game, loved being Red Sox and loved their place in history! They, who ignored the naysayers and “curse” blatherers and on the sacred turf of Yankee Stadium, added a permanent chink in the armor of the Yankees.
For no matter how many World Championships they may add to their tremendously impressive number, they will also forever be known as the either the only or the first team to lose a three games to nothing lead in a post season series! And it came at the hands of the Boston Red Sox!
The World Series of 2004 represents this new era of the Boston Red Sox. The era of championships and winning. The era of a refurbished Fenway Park and high expectations. The era of new ownership and Red Sox Nation. The era of a new century, the era which is now in transition.
Jason Varitek will retire today and the captain of the ship New Red Sox Era will be gone. But never, never will those glorious memories fade! Thanks Tek!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, March 1, 2012.