A decade after that group changed the fate of the franchise forever, the Red Sox brought 29 players from the 2004 world champs back to Fenway Park on Wednesday night for a pregame ceremony that celebrated the MVP of that curse-busting World Series by reenacting a couple of his Manny Being Manny moments.
Though he exited Boston by way of a midseason trade in 2008, and returned as a member of the Dodgers thereafter, the return of Manny Ramirez was treated as a main attraction in the proceedings. He was the last of the players to be introduced, and after his teammates all emerged from underneath the pennant that had been draped over the left-field wall, Ramirez came charging out of the Green Monster door that he famously entered when answering nature's call during a mound visit in 2005. He met the rest of the gang near the mound, then they circled around him as he was handed a ball to throw for the ceremonial first pitch.
Jason Varitek was stationed behind the plate, and ready to catch it -- but instead it was cut off halfway by Johnny Damon, who then tumbled to the ground, a reversal of the hilarity that ensued 10 years earlier, when Ramirez inexplicably dived to intercept one of Damon's throws to third base, and the Orioles' David Newhan subsequently rounded the bases for an inside home run.
Oh, those silly Idiots.
Before Ramirez's emergence, the ceremony started with a highlight video set to "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys and covering the season from start to finish -- with the loudest applause reserved for the shot of Jason Varitek delivering a face full of glove to Alex Rodriguez during a July brawl. (Although even then the applause wasn't particularly thunderous; the park was less than half full when the ceremony started, and still at least a quarter empty when it finished.)
The pennant dropped as the video ended, then the players shuffled behind and waited for Joe Castiglione to beckon them out after some quick highlights played on the video screen. Starting with a quartet of coaches, here's who was introduced, and how the order went:
No Mark Bellhorn, no Doug Mirabelli, and no Bronson Arroyo (who's currently a Diamondback), but otherwise the more memorable members were in attendance. Between Millar and Wakefield there was a break to show video of Dave Roberts and Bill Mueller deliver a message on the video board -- 10 years after teaming up for a rather famous moment, they're both big-league coaches elsewhere -- and there was another break before Schilling was introduced. Schilling completed a round of chemotherapy last month as he battles cancer.
Foulke carried the World Series trophy in with him, and Ortiz came out of the dugout -- where most of his present-day teammates were watching the ceremony from the steps. Then it was time to let Manny be Manny one more time before he heads for Iowa to work with Theo Epstein's Triple-A Cubs.