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Thursday, October 28, 2004

New Morning

It's a new morning.

Some members of three generations of the Young and Henrickson clans lived their entire lives, from cradle to grave, in Massachusetts without ever living to see a day like this one. From this team, they knew only heartache and what it feels like to fall just short. Perhaps they were watching from another realm.

Perhaps the ghost of Babe Ruth was too.

Today, Bill Buckner, Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, Pete Schourek, Mike Torrez, and Johnny Pesky could walk down Boylston Street and hear not a single discouraging word.

Though I wrote in one blog entry after another that I thought this team was capable of going all the way, there was uncertainty until the final out.

I was in middle school when Bob Stanley uncorked a wild pitch that Worcester's own Rich Gedman couldn't handle. When the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs. That year, they had come back in the ALCS from being one strike away from elimination, down three games to one, but only so the cruel hands of fate could mock Red Sox Nation once more.

I was in high school when the Sox went down, with hardly a whimper, to the Oakland juggernaut in the ALCS 1988 and 1990.

I was in college, staying up until the wee hours of the morning on a crisp night in 1995 to watch Game 1 of the first Division Series against Cleveland; former Red Sock Tony Pena, of all people, delivered the death blow in extra innings. The other two games were like a mere formality.

I was in law school in 1998, when the Sox finally won a post-season game again after a streak of 13 consecutive losses, dating back to what will forever be known as the "Bill Buckner game." But they fell short again, as they couldn't get the run they needed across the board in Game 4, which will be known as the "Pete Schourek game."

I had just learned of my passing the bar exam in 1999, when the Red Sox first showed that maybe things were beginning to change, coming back from down 2-0 to best the Indians, the team that ended the Sox' hopes in 1995 and 1998, in the Division Series, 3-2. But then came the Yankees in the ALCS, and the result was utter humiliation, in the form of a five-game, one-sided affair, tempered only by a pasting of Roger Clemens at Fenway Park in Game 3.

In 2003, they got even closer. They made another dramatic comeback, including an extra-inning thriller, in the first round, from down 2-0, this time to the Athletics, who had helped make the two of my Octobers back in high school so miserable. And then came a roller-coaster ride of an ALCS, once again taking on the hated Yankees. Which you can read all about here, if you're really interested in revisiting it.

And, for all the world, it looked like we in Red Sox Nation were on its way to another disappointment. Down 3-0 to the Yankees, who've had so much good fortune shined down upon them. Traditionally, they got all the calls, all the breaks, and could always be counted on to win when it mattered.

But something changed on October 17. We'll never know what it was. It could have all been one big coincidence, a series of independent events. It could have been the clock on my wall that stopped working then. Or it could have been Bambino's Ghost, at last laying his weary bones to rest.

Wherever Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, and Bill Mueller end up, their names will forever live on in Red Sox lore. We are grateful to them, and to Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz, Keith Foulke, Mark Bellhorn, Tim Wakefield, and everyone else who made this historic and unprecedented triumph possible.

From the manicured lawns of tony Connecticut suburbs to the rocky shores of the Maritimes, from the high rises of the Financial District to the smallest Vermont hamlet, it's a new morning in Red Sox Nation. For those Red Sox fans born, and to those made, to those in the homeland, and to those in exile in Washington, or on the West Coast, or in New York, or somewhere in between...it's a new morning.


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