Red Sox’ comeback now has iconic image
A day later, there is still so much to process and digest. You look at the instant-classic photo by the Globe’s Stan Grossfeld. You think back to the moment and you notice things.
The police officer in the photo — the guy who signaled “touchdown” in celebration of David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam — has a Red Sox playoff beard. Steve Horgan is going to be remembered forever. As Boston’s finest. As a fan. Arms raised in celebration, beard down to his badge, Steve Horgan is part Bobby Orr, part Mike Napoli. Maybe he’ll get his own statue one day.
The outfielder in the photo, classy veteran Torii Hunter, is upside-down. We see him from the waist down. Or is it the waist up? Hunter’s wishbone legs paired with Horgan’s TD signal combine to make a human W. For the win. For Boston. Or is it two V’s for victory?
Hunter is a baseball ambassador, the definition of dignity and class. He grew up in the Minnesota Twins system with David Ortiz. Hunter and Ortiz were like brothers. Like Twins.
This is what Hunter said in the Tigers locker room after his valiant and spectacular effort to catch the screeching line drive hit by his friend:
“My hip, it hit the top of the wall. When I went up, I hit the top of the wall and it flipped me and it kind of just bruised it a little bit, but I mean, this is the postseason. I’ll die on the field for this. So you’re not going to take me off this field . . . shoulder, neck, head, everything.
“At that time, your adrenaline’s flowing, you just don’t really care about that. I couldn’t breathe.’’
None of us could breathe.
There was so much else about this day, this game, this moment. It is the Carlton Fisk foul pole moment of the new millennium.
What about the Sox bullpen catcher? He’s not framed in the Grossfeld photo, but take a look at the video. While Hunter goes butt-over-teakettle and the cop signals “touchdown,” the Sox bullpen catcher, Mani Martinez, casually turns to his left and catches the screeching liner. He looks like a bored high school sophomore raising his hand when the teacher is taking attendance.
Disclosure here (we do a lot of this at the Globe these days): Stan Grossfeld is a close friend. And he is a rock star of photography. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes. He has made a career out of crossing lines he’s not supposed to cross. He listens to the rules, then breaks the rules and gets the best pictures.
On Sunday night, he was not where he was supposed to be. He apologized to Phyllis Merhige, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president/club relations, before the game.
“Hello, Stan,’’ said Merhige. “I’m sure you’re going to be someplace where you are not allowed tonight.”
“Let the record show that you talked to me about it,’’ said Grossfeld.
Seven innings later, the game was dragging and Grossfeld was sagging, along with 38,000 others at Fenway. He was positioned in the second-level overhang television pit on the first base side. He spotted Dave Roberts before the eighth and went over to say hello. Good karma there.
Then things started to happen. Ortiz came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
“It’s like follow the bouncing ball,’’ said Grossfeld. “Ortiz swings and I photographed the swing. I knew with the swing that it was going out. So I swung around to where I thought it was going.
“Then Torii Hunter ran into the frame. I remembered something Darnell McDonald had told me. He said he almost fell in chasing a ball there. He said, ‘Once you get on top, it can go either way.’
“I could see where Torii was going so I shot a burst of frames. I could see his legs going up and his legs going down. I saw the cop for sure. It was such a long lens, I could just about read his badge number.
“Then I saw all the players signaling for help. I was worried about Torii. I heard the crowd going ballistic. I looked at the frame between innings. It just jumped out. It was sharp and I moved it.’’
The game ended at 11:44 p.m. The Globe put the photo on Boston.com not long after that. New Globe owner John Henry tweeted the photo Monday. It was everywhere. One clever soul dubbed it, “the thrill of victory and the agony of de feet.’’
Some see a Boston Strong theme. Arms and legs raised.
“It’s like Paul McCartney on the cover of ‘Abbey Road’ in his bare feet,’’ said Grossfeld, who spent Monday fielding calls from multiple media outlets. “I see the resilience of Boston. We never stay down.’’
The Tigers and Red Sox are back at it this afternoon in Comerica Park. The series that looked like a Tiger sweep is tied, 1-1, and we have Justin Verlander vs. John Lackey in late afternoon shadows of downtown Detroit.
But it’s hard to let Sunday go. It’s hard to move past the moment.