They were the hardball heroes in the middle of the rolling rally. Then they were rolling on the river, the very same muddy water that inspired the theme song played after every Fenway Park victory in 2004.
And if you listened carefully, the 2004 World Series championship trophy could be heard above the din singing, “Boston, you’re my home!”
These Red Sox will ride forever not on the streets of Boston, nor in the calm of the Charles but in the hearts of New Englanders who waited 86 years for a day like yesterday.
We always wondered what it would be like if the Red Sox won the World Series. Now we know. People are happy, almost delirious. And it turns out there’s been no spike in the obituary sections the last few days. Folks who waited so long apparently decided that just because the Sox finally won, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for which to live.
Life’s been pretty good in the hours since Wednesday’s final win under the post-eclipse, blood-red, full moon. Today is Halloween and the ghosts that haunted the Red Sox have been forever purged. The best baseball team in the land plays at Fenway Park, and time will never dim the memories of the last three weeks of postseason baseball. Two weeks to the day after the Yankees walloped the Sox, 19-8, to take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS, millions of fans filled the streets and riverbanks of Boston and Cambridge for the grandest celebration in 374 years of Hub history.
It’s hard to believe that there’s a hotly contested presidential election only two days away, featuring a Massachusetts senator with the initials JFK. This is the week that we all learned to spell Mientkiewicz, and no matter what you do or where you go, it’s impossible to carry on a conversation without hearing someone’s Red Sox story.
Here’s a favorite:
Michael LaVigne, 53, grew up in Central Massachusetts, one of five kids, the son of Dr. Richard LaVigne, chief of radiology at Burbank Hospital in Fitchburg. On weekends, the doctor would take his kids to work with him and sometimes they’d stamp some X-rays to help their dad. En route to the hospital, it was a family tradition to have breakfast at the Moran Square Diner on Myrtle Avenue in Fitchburg. The men who owned the diner were Yankee fans, and they always teased Dr. LaVigne about his love of the Red Sox.
In December of 1979, on his death bed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. LaVigne made a final request of his son, Michael.
“My dad said, `The one thing I wish had happened was that the Red Sox had won the World Series,’ “ recalled Michael, now a house painter and assistant women’s soccer coach at Boston College. “He said, `If they ever win that World Series, I want you to go out and buy the most expensive bottle of champagne you can find and go back to the diner and put that bottle on the counter and say, `This is from the Doc!’ “
Thursday afternoon, Michael knew what he had to do. He went to Burton’s Liquors in Newton, bought a bottle of Veuve Clicquot (worth north of $100), and drove to Fitchburg with his wife, Lisa.
“It was a little dark when we got to Moran Square, but the diner was still there,” he said. “It was closed. I guess they close at 2 on weekdays. So I put it by the door on the steps with a note that said, `From the Doc. Richard LaVigne.’ “
The new owner of the diner found the bottle when he got to work Friday morning. He’d heard of the story, but was surprised the Doc’s son delivered. He said he’d get the champagne to the old man who used to own the diner.
These are the kinds of stories we’ll be telling forever. Where were you when it happened. Who did you watch it with? What did you do the next day?
One final word on the people who own and run the Red Sox: They deserved this, and I’m not just saying that because Daddy New York Times has a hefty $75 million invested with Messrs. Henry and Werner.
The night of Boston’s World Series bash at the Kennedy Library, I recognized a young, well-dressed man mingling with the masses. I couldn’t remember how I knew him until we started to speak. It was Mike Stelmack, the clubhouse guy from Fort Myers. He told me the Sox had flown him up from Florida. His girlfriend, too. The Sox put them in a hotel and got them tickets for the World Series. In the days that followed, there were more sightings like this in Boston and St. Louis. Fenway security guys. Ticket sellers. Clubhouse kids. The Sox front office, it seemed, took care of everybody. When the big moment arrived, the Sox came up big by taking care of those who toiled long and anonymously.
Then there’s the story of Patrick White, a 13-year-old ballplayer from Quincy who’s dealing with his second bout with cancer. He got to meet some of the Sox through the Jimmy Fund and Trot Nixon still calls now and then. Sox CEO Larry Lucchino once said to Pat’s family, “If there’s ever anything we can do . . . “
You know the drill. A lot of people say that just to make themselves feel better, but they don’t really mean it.
Patrick White was on the Home Depot float yesterday, sitting with his mom, dad, and two sisters, waving to the crowd, doing what all other New Englanders were doing.
He was having the time of his life.
Thanks to the Red Sox.