RED SOX 11, YANKEES 10
Two days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the Sox and New York Yankees stage a game that features 27 hits, nine relief pitchers, four errors, and a photo-op for the ages when Jason Varitek smashes his catcher’s mitt into the face of Alex Rodriguez, triggering a bench-clearing brawl. The Sox win in the bottom of the ninth on a one-out, two-run homer by Bill Mueller. One of five individuals ejected earlier in the day, Terry Francona is in the Sox clubhouse when Mueller hits the walkoff blast.
(GAME 4, AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES)
RED SOX 6, YANKEES 4
With the Sox about to be swept, four straight, Francona winks at pinch runner Dave Roberts in the bottom of the ninth, signaling the speedy outfielder to steal second. Roberts’s successful steal sets up the tying run, and the Sox stave off elimination when David Ortiz hits a two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning at 1:22 a.m. The Sox go on to win three more games against the Yankees and are still the only team in baseball history to win a series after trailing three games to none.
BUSCH STADIUM IN ST. LOUIS
(GAME 4, WORLD SERIES)
RED SOX 3, CARDINALS 0
Edgar Renteria grounds to Keith Foulke with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the Red Sox are world champions for the first time in 86 years. Foulke hugs Varitek on the field; in the clubhouse, Francona embraces his dad, former major league outfielder Tito Francona. The Sox arrive back at Logan just after 6:30 a.m. on October 28 and spend the winter writing books, delivering speeches, and telling tales of drinking Jack Daniel’s in the clubhouse before cold playoff games in New York and St. Louis.
COORS FIELD IN DENVER
(GAME 4, WORLD SERIES)
RED SOX 4, ROCKIES 3
Jonathan Papelbon strikes out Seth Smith, and the Sox win the World Series for the second time in four seasons. Boston outscores the Colorado Rockies, 29-10, over the four games, and Francona becomes the first manager in baseball history to win his first eight World Series games. In the winners’ locker room, the Sox manager is gently nudged off the presentation platform as the Sox owners line up to receive the trophy on national television.
CAMDEN YARDS IN BALTIMORE
ORIOLES 4, RED SOX 3
On his final night as manager of the Sox, Francona watches Papelbon blow a one-run lead with two outs and nobody aboard in the bottom of the ninth against the last-place Baltimore Orioles. The Sox suffer a walkoff defeat and, minutes later, are eliminated from playoff contention as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Yankees, 8-7, after trailing, 7-0, in the eighth inning. It marks the first time in baseball history that a team failed to make the playoffs after holding a 9½-game lead for a playoff spot in September. Francona is fired two days after the finale in Baltimore.