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tara sullivan

Remembering my best day as a Boston sportswriter

The breathtaking view from the press box at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 26, 2018.
The breathtaking view from the press box at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 26, 2018.Alex Speier/Globe Staff (custom credit)

Some Red Sox fans stayed up and watched it happen. Other Red Sox fans woke up and discovered it happened. Either way, every Red Sox fan remembers what happened on that long, long night in October 2018.

As Friday evening, Oct. 26, crept into early morning, Oct. 27, the Red Sox and the Dodgers kept on playing baseball. It was Game 3 of the World Series. The Sox had flown to California barely needing a plane. They’d won the first two games at Fenway Park, and were dreaming of a Series sweep. It proved to be a little harder than they thought.

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Ninth inning, game tied, 1-1. Tenth inning. Eleventh, and 12th. A run for each team in the 13th. On it went until the 18th, when a Max Muncy home run gave the Dodgers a 3-2 win.

History remembers it as the longest playoff game, by time and by inning, in the annals of Major League Baseball.

I remember it as my best day at the Boston Globe.

…

The headline of the night was obvious, and the fact that the Globe printed 5,000 copies with it was its own miracle of modern newsprint. Three live stories made it into that Saturday sports section, the work of Dan Shaughnessy, Peter Abraham, and Nick Cafardo ready and waiting for the 7 a.m. coffee drinkers, a credit to the workers back home who turned it around in an eye-blink.

What readers also found in that section was my non-deadline story about actor Titus Welliver, and how his work as the title character in the Amazon Prime series “Bosch,” filmed in Los Angeles, put his fictional and human personas at odds. Welliver’s Harry Bosch, a grizzled homicide detective, is a devoted Dodgers fan. But Welliver himself, raised for a good part of his young life in the shadow of Fenway Park, is diehard Sox.

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As a huge fan of both the television series and the Michael Connelly books they are based on, I couldn’t help but tweak a pro-Sox tweet by Welliver following Boston’s win in Game 2, chiding the actor for his apparent divided loyalties. His perfect answer — “That’s Bosch. Titus wears Red Sox.” — led to a direct-message exchange, which led to a phone interview about his New England roots, which led to an invite to the “Bosch” set that Friday morning prior to the World Series game.

Which led to my single favorite day at the Globe.

A Hollywood set, filled with one gracious actor and countless incredible support staffers. A late-afternoon World Series game in Chavez Ravine, a stadium with the single best view in professional sports. A first pitch at 5:10 p.m., under a clear, 78-degree sky. A seat in the auxiliary press box, fashioned in the regular stands and located under a mezzanine behind home plate, in my book the best press seat in the house.

The company of fellow Globe staffers Alex Speier, Chad Finn, Scott Thurston, and Owen Pence, all of us laughing through the night. The guy dressed as Kirk Gibson who had enough time across seven-plus hours to get drunk, dance among the fans, and get sober again. The late-night search for food, which included sharing the bags of Starburst and chocolate I had wisely purchased from our Marriott mini-mart.

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And, ultimately, a game for the ages. Nathan Eovaldi’s heroic relief appearance of 97 pitches in six-plus innings ended in a walkoff loss but served as inspiration for the Sox to win the next two games.

Every time Eovaldi emerged from the dugout, inning after inning after inning, our jaws dropped anew. It was the single most powerful example of team above self I’ve ever seen; remember, Eovaldi was a midseason acquisition who’d twice had his elbow repaired by Tommy John surgery.

Nathan Eovaldi turns to watch Max Muncy's homer as Muncy turns around first base.
Nathan Eovaldi turns to watch Max Muncy's homer as Muncy turns around first base. Stan Grossfeld

The day started out with me writing at our Pasadena hotel, using the conversation with Welliver as the basis for the feature. His recollections of his Boston sports fandom — growing up with two insufferable Yankee-loving brothers, a devoted Red Sox fan for a father (the famed artist Neil Welliver), and an arts-loving mother who enrolled him in his first acting class — gave me more material than I needed.

We talked Sox, and Bruins, and Celtics, and Patriots, and soccer, and Springsteen, and dogs, and books. And we talked logistics, his invite to the set setting up a perfect, if marathon, workday.

I headed to downtown LA at 12:44 p.m. (thanks, Lyft history), a 26-minute ride to a parking lot filled with trailers. Welliver emerged with a hearty greeting, and we shared a van ride to the set a few blocks away.

I was the proverbial fly on the wall as he filmed some emotional scenes in which he attempted to help a heroin-addicted mother whose child had died. The number of takes to get it just right shouldn’t surprise me, and yet I found myself mesmerized by the time and effort put into but one portion of one scene in one episode in one season.

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The series, by the way, is the longest-running original show on Amazon Prime, heading into its sixth season with a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In this time of social-distance binge-watching, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Globe columnist Tara Sullivan and actor Titus Welliver.
Globe columnist Tara Sullivan and actor Titus Welliver.Tara Sullivan/Globe Staff (custom credit)

I left the cast as they moved a few blocks over to a set designed as a rehab facility, my Lyft for the 5.9-mile ride to Dodger Stadium taking 58 minutes in traffic. I emerged at the top of the mountain at Dodger Stadium, bumping right into Shaughnessy as we headed to the press gate security line. I was giddy, inundating my poor colleague with details of a show he hadn’t heard of.

Dan would perform his own heroics that night. He made sure Red Sox manager Alex Cora knew that legendary Boston radio reporter Jonny Miller was not at the game. Because of a medical emergency, Miller’s plane landed in Colorado on the way to LA so he could be taken to a hospital. The Sox sent flowers and reminded everyone that the first postgame question, no matter how late it might have been, should have belonged to Jonny.

Dan, like Abraham, wrote and rewrote the top of his story too many times to remember (“meatball surgery” we call it), ultimately having two versions ready to send, one for a loss and one for a win.

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But leave it to Nick, who was doing the same, to have the best perspective. The Globe, and the baseball world at large, would lose an icon when Nick died unexpectedly during spring training the following year. Before he left us, he said it best, when the Dodgers failed to score in the 17th inning and a collective groan arose in the press box. Nick, turning with a smile, said, “Isn’t this great?”

Yes. Yes it is.

Best day ever.


Tara Sullivan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at tara.sullivan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Globe_Tara.