A sea of fans cheer world champion Red Sox
An estimated 3.2 million cheering Red Sox fans lined the rainy streets of Boston and the banks of the Charles River today to see the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox team pass by in a rolling rally parade of 17 duck boats.
Fans wore red, waved Red Sox flags and held signs as they cheered the players. Even the players got in on the act: Left fielder Manny Ramirez held a sign that said, Jeter is playing golf today; this is better! (Or as a caller to talk radio said, "Who's Your Caddy?")
Pitchers Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Tim Wakefield waved to the crowd and held signs saying "Idiots Rule". They signed hats and other gear that fans threw to them. Derek Lowe wore Mardi Gras-style blue beads around his neck, but kept his shirt on.
The parade started at Fenway Park shortly after 10 a.m. and slowly made its way down Boylston Street to Tremont Street and then Cambridge Street to the river. Many who watched the parade from Boylston and Tremont streets ran down to the river to see the players go by again.
At Copley Square, some of the boats shot confetti into the massive crowds gathered around the Boston Public Library and in the park in front of Trinity Church.
The entourage traveled slowly down Boylston Street as crowds about 20 deep on the sidewalks screamed and fans, leaning out of office windows, showered the players with confetti -- Boston's version of a ticker tape parade.
A female fan held a sign that said, "Pedro, will you play catch with me?" Another read: "How sweet it is." One male fan, wearing a big diaper, a pink pacifier around his neck and an A-Rod shirt held a sign saying, "Ortiz is my Papi."
As the Red Sox championship parade passed by City Hall Plaza, which was filled with ecstatic fans waving signs and yelling to the players, the World Series trophy continued to be passed from duck boat to duck boat.
Along with the massive crowds came some problems. Ten people were arrested, according to early reports from the Boston police. It was uncertain what the offenses were. The police said 12 people were transported to the hospital and 30 were treated on the street.
City officials expected millions of fans to show, but there was no official crowd estimate from police as of early afternoon.
Red Sox Nation began streaming into the city hours before the parade by car, train and on foot hoping to score a good spot to spy their favorite players. They were lined up, a sea of red shirts, hats and other team paraphernalia in a steady mist of rain.
"It's not too bad. It's about as crowded as the (Boston) Marathon," said Marie Iapicca of Malden, who stood in the front row with her 12-year-old son Robby outside the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street. Iapicca said she left Wellington Station in Medford at about 6 a.m. to get her prized spot.
The duck boats traveled very slowly to give fans a good chance to see the players on each boat. On board one duck boat were World Series MVP Manny Ramirez, DH David Ortiz, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, first baseman/outfielder Kevin Millar, and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.
The boat behind them carried GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona. Another boat had centerfielder Johnny Damon, second baseman Mark Bellhorn, shortstop/second baseman Pokey Reese, backup outfielder Dave Roberts, and backup first baseman Dave McCarty.
One of the boats carried former Sox manager Joe Morgan, who presided over the "Morgan Magic" season of 1988 when the Sox made the playoffs, only to lose four straight to the Oakland A's in the ALCS. (But who cares now?)
Former players and coaches also on board included Johnny Pesky, Jerry Remy, Luis Tiant, Frank Malzone, Rich Gedman, Sam Horn, Oil Can Boyd, Bill Monbouquette, Jim Corsi, Butch Hobson, Ted Lepcio, and Rick Burleson.
One boat of current players held rightfielder Trot Nixon, catcher Jason Varitek, backup outfielder Gabe Kapler, and backup catcher Doug Mirabelli.
There were two duck boats for relievers: One carrying closer Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, and Bronson Arroyo; the other containing Lenny DiNardo, Curtis Leskanic, Mike Myers, and Ramiro Mendoza. Star-crossed pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim was not seen.
The duck boats entered the water near the Science Museum as thousands of fans lined the banks of the Charles River. Others stood on the Longfellow and Mass. Avenue bridges. A few fans were sculling and kayaking on the river in an effort to get closer to the duck boats. A few guys jumped into the water and swam over to the duck boats, but were chased off by a police officer on a jet ski.
Trot Nixon, interviewed by reporter Dan Roche of CBS4 on one of the duck boats, said the World Series crown is for all those fans "who have lived and breathed with Red Sox baseball for years and years...30, 40, 50, 60, up to 80 years."
"Some heartfelt things you hear from fans, that their grandfather has passed away and always wanted to see the Sox win a World Series, well, he's got the best seat in the house now, up there with our Maker," Nixon said. "This is for all the little guys, from Maine to the West Coast. All the fans are part of our family, the family of the Red Sox."
Catcher Doug Mirabelli told Roche that he was thrilled by the fans cheering along the route, and that he didn't want the parade to end.
Before the players and coaches boarded the boats, a mini-rally was held before a small crowd inside Fenway Park. Manager Terry Francona said his team always had what it took to win it all -- even if his scruffy players who dubbed themselves "idiots" didn't always look serious.
Catcher Jason Veritek told the cheering audience that "every Red Sox fan from now on can walk into Yankee Stadium with their heads up." He was followed on stage by Manny Ramirez who said, "Now we have to do it again next year."
David Ortiz showed up wearing a "Big Daddy" sweatshirt and a red ski hat. "It's been an incredible season. It's been so much fun. Keep the faith," he said.
Next week there will be a parade in the Dominican Republic for Ortiz, Ramirez, and ace Pedro Martinez, according to an official of the Dominican Republic, who said his country has 1 million Red Sox fans.
Upon walking on the stage, Martinez pointed to the World Series trophy and told the crowd, "This is yours." He later said, "I don't think I'll ever get any gift bigger than what I've got now."