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In concert, the teams' fans had a great time

June 13, 2005
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(Correction: Because of a reporting error, the name of Gary Alexander was incorrect in a column about Red Sox fans at Wrigley Field in the June 13 Sports section.)

CHICAGO -- The weekend was about Cubs fans and Red Sox fans. This was their first chance to share ballpark space since the doughboys came home from Europe and the result was a three-day festival of love, lager, and longball.

An hour before the first pitch of the last game of the series between the Red Sox and Cubs, some broom-toting Cubs loyalists swept dust off the shoetops of those clad in Sox garb as they filed into Wrigley Field.

Those brooms were back in the closets (or trash bins) by 10 p.m. as the Red Sox rode four homers (17 hits) and seven great innings from Tim Wakefield to an 8-1 rout of the Cubbies last night. It was the Sox' first-ever win at Wrigley Field.

''Everywhere we went this weekend, Sox Nation was there," said Kevin Millar, who had two hits. ''It would be fun to play these guys every year."

''These fans should be very proud of what they have here," said Johnny Damon, who came within a single of hitting for the cycle. ''Boston fans are enjoying life more now, and hopefully Chicago fans will find it soon."

June 10-12, 2005. Wrigley Woodstock. Instead of Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y., we had the ivy-coated brick ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison in the heart of Wrigleyville. Instead of Hendrix playing the anthem at dawn, we had the immortal Wayne and Kathleen Messmer singing the anthem at dusk. Instead of brown acid disrupting trips, we had the Red Sox' flammable pitching (in the first two games) disrupting thousands of road-trippers from New England.

It never turned into a free concert, which was unfortunate for those who won't be able to put their kids through college once their Wrigley weekend bills come due.

''It's been a great time here," said John Petreyko, who made the trip from Braintree, Mass. ''Collectively, we have gathered the largest group of losers in history."

Lane Patorti, Ed Landon, and Brandon Chalk -- all Vermont natives -- made the trip to Chicago and didn't regret a thing. Then again, one has a son named ''Boston," (born in 2004) and another has a dog named ''Trot."

These are not men easily discouraged by steep prices or a couple of losses to the Cubs. This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal for the road-trippers and you couldn't find a soul who didn't think it was worth it.

''We saw Johnny Damon and his wife this afternoon coming out of the movies!," said Kerry Alexander. It was as if he had seen Elvis.

Alexander, who has family in Rhode Island, was wearing a Curt Schilling jersey and he was sitting with a friend who was wearing a Mark Prior jersey. No problem. Cubs and Sox people are united in the brotherhood of baseball and not even the threat of the Sox getting swept was enough to hurt feelings. The soundtrack for the weekend highlight tape should be John Lennon's ''Imagine."

After watching their team get blown out Friday, then lose a close one Saturday, Sox fans owned the town last night. They saw home runs by Kevin Youkilis, Damon, Manny Ramirez, and Jay Payton. They saw Wakefield stop the bleeding with those seven stellar innings. And best of all, they saw Wakefield hit a single, drive home a run, and scamper around the bases like Pete Rose on his way to the $2 window.

It was still a close game (3-0) when Wakefield stood on first while Doug Mirabelli waited at third with Damon at the plate with two out in the sixth. Damon cracked a shot into the gap in left-center and Wakefield came around to score from first, finishing the play with a nifty slide across the plate.

The man is a baseball player. He came to professional ball as a first baseman and he never takes his spikes off even if he's not scheduled to pitch. He once homered in a big league game and last night he showed all of his hardball skills.

''Once I rounded second, I picked up Dale [third base coach Dale Sveum] right away," said Wakefield. ''I had enough gas in the tank to get there."

''Wake pitched great, contributed with his bat and on the bases," said Sox manager Terry Francona. ''And we needed it. We had a tough trip [2-4], but we ended it with a good win."

Francona put four new batters into his lineup and all contributed. Then again, one player who never seems to take a seat is Mark Bellhorn, who struck out three times, walked, and singled. He now has a whopping 71 strikeouts in 57 games. But hey, he sees a lot of pitches and really makes the pitchers work. Bill James no doubt can prove that Bellhorn does more for an offense than Rogers Hornsby.

The Red Sox hit nine homers in their first three games at Wrigley Field. They won their first game ever in the ivy yard. Oh, and Nomar's ring was delivered by Jason Varitek in the lobby of the Ritz Hotel Friday night. Payton and Mia Hamm witnessed the quiet ceremony.

But for the most part, the weekend was about people who stay loyal to their teams for decades on top of decades, sometimes never enjoying the ultimate reward. Cubs people are hoping some of the magic rubbed off in the last three days at Wrigley.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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