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Friday, October 25, 2013

Watching John Lackey, and Thinking 'bout Dave Roberts

On my mind all the time. (Barry Chin, Boston Globe)

Kenmore Square might have been rocking last night at 7:25, but I couldn't hear a thing. I was in the quietest place in Boston five minutes before a World Series game at Fenway Park -- the library.

Yes, you read that right. Mr. Fenway Reflections himself, who still has a "Thanks Yaz" shirt in the closet and an unopened can of Fenway 100th anniversary grape juice on the shelf (waiting to toast with my family at the 150th), was five miles on the odometer and a million miles in intensity away from Yawkey Way when JT was belting out the National Anthem.

So what on earth was I doing hanging out an empty mausoleum of a room, sans a few librarians tuned in to Well, as Kevin Millar and the rest of the 2004 idiots were throwing out first pitches, I was writing about what was going through Dave Roberts' mind as he readied to steal second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 against the Yankees.

No quiet study room needed last night.

Red Sox Nation may be keyed into the waning days of the 2013 baseball season, but I'm just as entrenched in the '04 campaign. The Sox and Cardinals are now in a best-of-five showdown to determine this year's world champions, and we'll all know the end result no later than Halloween. A few weeks after that, I'll be turning in the manuscript of Miracle at Fenway: An Oral History of the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

We'll know the results of that in April, when the book comes out. 

It's been a busy summer and fall as my dual duties have progressed. I've been watching and writing about the Bearded Boys as they've worked their magic in the greatest one-season turnaround by a Red Sox club since 1946, and I've been interviewing members of the 2004 team, front office, and fans all year about the '04 campaign -- which of course included the greatest postseason turnaround in franchise (and MLB) history.

This means I had to turn down or give away tickets to many games down the stretch, and have only eased the rules on a couple occasions: a chance to share joy of the '13 campaign with my Section 30 friend Nancy Wall Farrington in the regular season finale, be an "Honorary K Man" in Game 2 of the ALDS, and take my wife (aka The Reluctant Fan) to her first ALCS game. All were memorable occasions, thanks in large part to Big Papi -- appropriate considering he is the only remaining member of the 2004 team still with the Red Sox.

Two future readers? (Stan Grosfeld, Boston Globe)

(NOTE TO READERS: If anybody wants to sell or give me a ticket (or 2 or 4) to Game 6 or 7, I may be inclined to take them up on the offer, since my last World Series was in 1975.) 

I've tried to always keep my eye on the here and now, updating things on Fenway Reflections when possible and (during the World Series) chatting for a few minutes each day with Bob Seay of NPR's "Morning Edition." I've worn my lucky Jimmy Fund/Red Sox shirt as often as I can, although it needs a karma-changing wash after last night.

Here are some of the things I'm working into the book, which readers will be able to enjoy in full come April:
  • The life-altering event early in Jason Varitek's life that likely resulted in his becoming a catcher, and the strange way he heard he was coming to Boston
  • Larry Lucchino's first visit to Fenway Park, and the epiphany which indirectly led to the ballpark being saved from the wrecking ball 15 years later
  • The real cause of Ellis Burks' injuries that kept him from staying healthy in Boston, and why he decided to come back here a decade after leaving in 2003 as a free agent
  • How Tim Wakefield felt when he let up the homer to Aaron Boone in the 2003 ALCS, and how that compared to his emotions after helping whip the Yanks the very next October 
This game was nearly nixed.
  • The backstory behind the A-Rod-Varitek fight game, which almost wasn't played
  • The man who predicted in an email to Larry Lucchino after Game 2 of the ALCS that the Red Sox would lose Game 3 to the Yankees, and then win four straight
  • What (and who) Dave Roberts was thinking about before recording the most important stolen base in Red Sox history
What was on his mind?
  • Kevin Millar's take on the pre- and post-game "toasts" during the ALCS
  • How Johnny Pesky spent Game 4 of the World Series in St. Louis
  • The filming of "Fever Pitch" at Fenway, and the unique concoction Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon shared with local actors after the Series-clincher at Busch Stadium
  • The cancer patient who claims the '04 Red Sox saved her sanity and her life
  • Where their lives have taken the members of the 2004 club since The Miracle at Fenway
And much, much more.

By the way, I did make it home from the library last night in time to change into my lucky shirt and see the Red Sox bat in the first inning. I spent the game tapping away at my computer (thanks lap table) and making notes for this morning's radio gig. 

One thing I noted was that last night's starter St. Louis Michael Wacha was just 13 years old when his Red Sox counterpart, John Lackey, won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels. In fact, all three Cardinals pitchers were likely in bed with their lights out when Big John clinched the '02 title.

So enjoy the remaining days of this year's wild ride, and then spend your Hot Stove months waiting for it all to start again -- and for the opportunity to take a trip back a decade to when this great run of Boston baseball all began.

See you at the library.


  1. Psyched for book to come out. Go Sox

    1. Thanks I hope you enjoy it -/ please let me know come spring!