It was a Back Bay Bacchanal, a party unlike anything since 1918.
Six months after Shelter in Place, the city of Boston invites the world to celebrate a victory of team over self. Boston Strong, at least a variation of the theme, hit a crescendo Wednesday night on the Fenway lawn, the town common of 2013.
These Red Sox, the motley crew that left Fort Myers begging, “Please don’t hate us,’’ completed the ultimate redemption song, thrashing the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in the sixth and final game of the 2013 World Series. The Brotherhood of the Beard are World Champions for the third time this century, worthy progeny of the 20th century Sox, who won five of the first 15 Series back in the days when Babe Ruth was a fuzzy-faced lefthanded orphan from Baltimore.
Nobody saw this coming. Nobody. After the worst season in 47 years — the Bobby Valentine clown show of 2012 — Sox general manager Ben Cherington and new field manger John Farrell made the Red Sox relevant and good again. The 2013 Sox dusted the field in the American League East, then blew past the Tampa Bays Rays, the Detroit Tigers, and the estimable Cardinals in an 11-5 postseason onslaught. The Sox were dominant. In the 2013 playoffs they bested aces Matt Moore, David Price, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Adam Wainwright, and Michael Wacha.
And so Boston has its eighth championship parade since 2002, and outgoing mayor Thomas Menino will be on a duck boat, which is scheduled to roll down Boylston Street, past the places where the bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, April 15. It is the ultimate civic comeback story.
“I go back to our players understanding their place in this city,’’ manger John Farrell said. “They kind of, for lack of a better way to describe it, they get it. They get that there’s, I think, a civic responsibility that we have wearing this uniform, particularly here in Boston. And it became a connection . . . I’m sure that everybody in our uniform, whether they are here going forward or elsewhere, they’ll look back on the events that took place and the way things unfolded as a special year. There’s no way we can say it any other way.’’
It was in the cards (Cards?). It was even in the Gospel. New Englanders who went to Mass Wednesday noticed the final verse of the Gospel of Luke (13:22-30), which reads, “For behold, some are last who will be first . . . ’’
This is the 2013 Red Sox. They finished in the basement of the American League East in 2012, winning a mere 69 games in a trainwreck season that came on the heels of the epic collapse of the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein Sox who folded dramatically in September 2011.
John Lackey was the poster boy of the 2011 chicken-and-beer chokers, and Wednesday he completed his comeback ballad, hurling 6⅔ innings of one-run ball and becoming the first man in baseball history to win World Series-clinching games for two franchises (Lackey won Game 7 for the Angels over the Giants when he was a 24-year-old rookie in 2002). The Boston pariah of 2011 became the hero of 2013.
Wednesday’s night’s finale was the first World Series Game 6 at Fenway since the Carlton Fisk Home Run Game of 1975, and it was a worthy successor. Luis Tiant, the ’75 Game 6 starter, tossed the ceremonial first pitch to old batterymate Fisk, and Sox heartbeat Dustin Pedroia completed the metaphor when he hit a towering foul fly that narrowly missed the left-field pole in the bottom of the first.
Pedroia’s near-miss was a mere footnote. The Sox would not be denied.
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities in the first two innings. It looked like it might be a true contest, but the Sox removed all doubt with a three-run third off St. Louis rocket boy Wacha.
Jacoby Ellsbury, most likely playing his last game for the Red Sox, led with a single to right. After Pedroia went out on a grounder to third, Wacha intentionally walked World Series MVP David Ortiz (.688). Good move. Mike Napoli struck out and then Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Enter Shane Victorino. Cue the music. “Three Little Birds,’’ by Bob Marley.
Every little thing gonna be all right.
Victorino turned on a 2-1 pitch and drove it toward the Monster Seats. The ball hit the Covidien sign on wall, good for three runs and a World Series ring. Victorino was credited with a three-run double. The ballgame was over.
The Sox added three more runs and chased Wacha in the fourth. Much-maligned Stephen Drew led off with a homer into the Red Sox bullpen (gloved by Franklin Morales). Wacha surrendered a double to Ellsbury. The young righthander (MVP of the NLCS) was lifted after intentionally walking Ortiz. Napoli made it 5-0 with a single to center off Lance Lynn. After a walk to Gomes, Victorino struck again with a single to left and it was 6-0. Ballgame.
There was good drama for the Sox in the seventh. With two out and nobody aboard, the Cardinals rallied with a single, a double, and Carlos Beltran’s RBI single. Farrell came out to get Lackey, but was rebuffed.
“This is my game!’’ Lackey shouted to his manager.
Farrell relented. But when Lackey walked Matt Holliday to load the bases, the manager reemerged from the dugout and pulled his starter. When Lackey — Mr. Redemption on Team Redemption — walked off the mound, he tipped his cap to the masses who’d rightfully crushed him over the past two years. Junichi Tazawa retired Allen Craig on a harmless grounder and it was on to the seventh-inning stretch.
It was a mere formality in the last two innings. Indomitable Sox closer Koji Uehara came out for the ninth and retired the side in order, sealing the championship by striking out Matt Carpenter (swinging) at 11:23 p.m.
Fifteen minutes after the final out, Red Sox/Globe owner John Henry hoisted the World Series championship trophy (“The World Series Cup,’’ according to Menino) and addressed the crowd as fireworks smoke enveloped the infield. Henry spoke. Tom Werner spoke. Cherington spoke. And then Farrell took center stage for his bow.
It was the first time the Sox won the World Series on the Fenway lawn since Carl Mays beat the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 on Sept. 11, 1918.
Ninety-five years later, the Sox won it again on their home field. And the party lingered long into the night.
This is the eighth championship for Boston teams since Adam Vinatieri split the uprights in New Orleans in February 2002 — the first since the Marathon bombings.
The High Renaissance of New England sports continues.