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Fan anxiety turns to delirium, rowdiness

Do you believe in miracles? Red Sox Nation does.

In a delirious reaction to an unprecedented comeback, millions of New Englanders erupted in joy early this morning as the Boston Red Sox stormed past the New York Yankees to seize the team's first pennant since 1986.

From living rooms to barrooms to dorm rooms, the pent-up hopes of the Red Sox's championship-starved fans exploded into a wild, whooping celebration that at times degenerated into vandalism and destruction.

After the victory, thousands of fans, many of them young people, flooded into Kenmore Square. As police in riot gear and on horseback looked on, Red Sox supporters hung on fences and storefront awnings, watching the noisy river of excited, bobbing bodies that filled the streets. Some fans set fires near Lansdowne Street behind Fenway Park and tipped over cars.

Police attempted to control the crowd by firing bean bags and rubber pellets, witnesses said. At least one person was taken by ambulance, they said, although police could not immediately confirm the incident. Another woman dropped to the ground after being struck and appeared to be bleeding, the witnesses said. ''It was crazy," said one of the witnesses, John Foley, 26, of Cambridge.

At 1:30 this morning, Boston police would not provide information about arrests.

Most of the celebrations, however, were more joyous than violent. Screaming and singing, many fans seemed to throw off a week's worth of stress with arm-pumping euphoria. A few smoked celebration cigars in Kenmore Square, singing the Standells' classic ''Dirty Water" song, the team's unofficial anthem.

Around the same time, in New York, ecstatic Red Sox fans nearly took over Yankee Stadium, singing the Yankees' theme song, ''New York, New York," with off-key gusto as they crowded behind home plate to celebrate the improbable victory. ''These little town blues are melting away," Ed Graham of Tyngsborough sang along with the Frank Sinatra recording. ''I'm not going to use that stupid word 'surreal.' It's just unbelievable."

Shouts of ''Johnny Damon is my homeboy!" and ''It's all over!" filled the air around the stadium, where there was a heavy police presence. Thousands of Yankee fans had left the stadium early, including Yogi Berra, the Yankees legend famous for his phrase ''It ain't over till it's over," who quietly departed before the seventh inning.

In Boston, the hordes of fans who flooded night spots were watched by law enforcement officials. More than twice the number of officers were deployed than used during the celebrations after the New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory in February, during which one man was killed.

Helicopters patrolled the skies this morning, Boston police Superintendent James Claiborne coordinated the multiagency effort from a command center at headquarters, and Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole roamed the city to see potential trouble spots herself.

In Kenmore Square, police officers equipped with full riot gear, large wooden sticks, bulletproof vests, shinguards, and helmets with shields stood four across and about 25 deep. Sections of nearby Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue were closed and Yawkey Way was shut down.

Four people climbed on top of the ''Keep the Faith" 30-foot billboard above the Cask 'n' Flagon. About 10 others attempted to climb the Green Monster on Lansdowne Street. One man fell and was taken away by ambulance.

Cherry bombs and other fireworks were detonated and drivers honked their horns as traffic stalled near Kenmore Square. Some people jumped on cars; others crammed into the bed of a Boston Public Works dump truck. The truck's windshield and windows were eventually smashed.

More peaceful fans lined up at the Red Sox ticket office, sitting in beach chairs and dreaming about purchasing World Series tickets.

At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, police shot off pepper balls and smoke to control the crowds while a helicopter roared overheard. A large number of undercover police walked the grounds and others patrolled the campus on horseback.

In Boston, neighborhoods far from Fenway were less crowded but still exuberant. On Broadway in South Boston, cars rolled by, their horns blaring, while people poured out of bars, screaming, dancing, and hugging. In front of the Playwright Cafe, Joel Price, a 38-year-old alternative medicine practitioner from Weymouth, was high-fiving his friends, a look of disbelief on his face.

''It's just euphoric," Price said. ''It was almost perfect tonight. And as far as I'm concerned the curse has been snapped in half."

''I believe! I really do believe!" said Amanda Mellgard, 27, at the L Street Tavern in South Boston.

In a modern frenzy of elation and high-tech gadgetry, many fans called their friends on cellphones, and then held up the phones to capture the game-ending ruckus inside the South Boston bar and hoarse, beer-stoked choruses of ''Some Kind of Wonderful."

Across the region, children in pajamas and Red Sox shirts stayed up way past their bedtime, posting runs on homemade scoreboards and popping balloons on which they had drawn faces of Yankees players.

Fans across the region celebrated with family members, both living and dead. At the Breezeway Bar and Grill in Roxbury, Jack Wilkins yelled, 'We got 'em! We finally got 'em!" as he watched the game with three generations of his family.

''First thing tomorrow, I'm going to my father's grave, and I'm going to sing, 'Who's your daddy?' " a reference to the chant that Yankees fans used to taunt Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.

A few miles away, near Fenway, Mark Von Duyke was pushing his wife, Joan, who uses a wheelchair, across the Brookline Avenue overpass above the Mass Pike.

''This is the happiest day of our lives, except for the day we got married," Mark Von Duyke said as the cheering crowds parted to let the couple pass.

Suzanne Smalley, Megan Tench, Lisa Kocian, and David Abel of the Globe staff, and correspondents Peter DeMarco, Michael Levenson, Heather Allen, Jack Encarnacao, and Erika Lovley contributed to this report.

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