By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
I was there in 2004 when they won in St. Louis, breaking an 86 year old curse. Thousands of Red Sox fans were there, but few who actually had a ticket. When the game ended, security opened the gates to Busch Stadium and told the fans on the street to "go on in, and celebrate with your team." It was a wonderful gesture by the friendly folks in St. Louis.
I was also there in 2007 when the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies. A walk off interview with Series MVP Mike Lowell was one of my proudest professional moments. It was another sweep, another champagne shower in another clubhouse thousands of miles from Boston.
Finally, the Red Sox brought the party home, and the timing could not have been more perfect. Our lovable boys of beard were right here where they should be, in the loving embrace of a city that has come full circle. Everyone loves a comeback, and this one represented much more than winning a trophy.
On April 20th 2013, David Ortiz took the microphone before a game and declared, "this is our f-king city, nobody is going to dictate our freedom." It was 5 days after the Marathon bombings. Our region was emotionally shattered. There were hundreds of victims in hospitals. There would be four funerals, and a river of tears.
Then came the stories of the heroes. The first responders. The people that did not flee, but stayed with the victims, using their belts and neck ties to stop the bleeding. The people that carried the injured to ambulances and medical personnel. There were more heroes at our area hospitals, treating the wounded, saving so many lives.
As the victims healed, the Red Sox played, and won a lot of games. The (617) Boston Strong jersey hung in their dugout. There was never a day or a moment the dead and the injured were not remembered.
Spring turned to summer and the healing continued. The bombing victims appeared at Fenway in wheelchairs or wearing prothesis. They threw out first pitches, they sang anthems, and they rejoiced with a team determined to give them something to smile about.
By July 25, 100 days after the bombing, the last Boston Marathon victim was released from the hospital. The Red Sox were half way through the season with all the makings of of a playoff team. Only 12 months earlier they had been a laughing stock, finishing the 2012 season with 69 wins. The manager was fired, the fans were disgusted, and spring training came and went without much hope.
What happened next few could have predicted.
This band of brothers grew beards, played hard, and won back the hearts their fans. They became a lovable bunch in total contrast to so many teams before them. Koji Uehara came out of nowhere as the unstoppable stopper. Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and David Ross were wonderful surprises. Kudos to GM Ben Cherrington for finding the talent and right mix. Jon Lester was a "horse." John Lackey re-invented himself. Dustin Pedroia led the league in attitude. It's amazing a heart that big can fit under a uniform so small.
And Big Papi. Like his name- he's the big Daddy. David Ortiz did it with his bat, and with his leadership. His impromtu dug out pep talk in the middle of Game 4 was the signature moment of the Series.
6 months ago, it was David Ortiz who set the stage when he dared the world to ever mess with Boston again. Nobody was going to stop the Red Sox this year.
From worst to first,the Red Sox rose from the ashes, and so has the city of Boston. There are too many heroes to count.
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