American League Championship Series – Opponent,
After romping to an easy 10-3 victory behind Josh Beckett in Game #1 at home against the Indians, the Red Sox fell on hard times. Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Tim Wakefield each failed to complete the fifth inning in their starts, and the Red Sox found themselves in the all-too-familiar position of having their backs to the wall with no wiggle room. The sports talk radio airwaves were heating up with the denizens of Red Sox Nation bemoaning their fate. Fans were complaining about everything from J.D. Drew’s lack of production, Dustin Pedroia’s failure to hit in the post season and Dike-K’s mythic “gyroball”! It was in the context of this woebegone state that I found myself scheduled to head to
Game #4 – at
My first stop on the way to NYC was to spend the night in
The next morning Sean and I took an early train from
At one point on Wednesday morning, I was hurrying up
Later that afternoon, I had a few minutes between meetings, so I slipped into the huge Toys R Us store in
Later that day I was meeting with a candidate of mine at the Starbucks on Madison Avenue and
“No, ma’am, this is a day of mourning, of rest and of the team recharging their batteries. Game #5 will be played tomorrow night.”
“Good luck to our Red Sox,” she offered, as she returned demurely to her seat.
It was a lovely New York minute!
Game #6 – at
Unhittable Josh Beckett, channeling Bob Gibson of the 1967 Cardinals, came to the rescue in
I knew – from the moment I climbed from the Green Line T station up to street level in
Schilling shut the Indians down in the 1st inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no one out. Up came Manny – who struck out. Mike Lowell flied to shallow right – not deep enough to score Pedroia from third. It looked like a potentially huge squander for the Red Sox. There was little expectation that J.D. Drew would do anything in this situation. The inning that looked so promising only moments before was slipping away. Drew had been disappointing fans, team mates and himself all season long. Brought in at great expense to provide protection in the batting order behind Ortiz and Ramirez, J.D. Drew was almost as reviled by
The Red Sox scored 6 more runs in the 3rd inning, and the rout was on. In successive games, the Red Sox batters had eviscerated
World Series – opponent Colorado Rockies
Game #1 – at
Leading up to the opening game of the 2007 World Series, the crowd entering the ball park seemed more subdued than the one that filled the stands for the final two games of the ALCS. The promised rain held off, and Maestro John Williams led the Boston Pops in an arrangement that he had written especially for this occasion of the Star Spangled Banner. It was soul-stirring. As the final chords were reverberating through the old ball park, the obligatory flyover took place. Four Vermont Air National Guard F-16 fighters from the
Josh Beckett did not falter. He struck out the side in order in the top of the 1st inning. Another day at the office for the Red Sox young phenomenon of the fall. In the Red Sox half of the inning, Dustin Pedroia made history when he poked the second pitch offered by Jeff Francis just over the lip of the left field wall. He added his name to the World Series history books as only the second batter to lead off Game #1 of a World Series with a homerun. Many more records would fall by the time the dust had settled on the Red Sox 13-1 thumping of the previously streaking Rockies, who won their NLDS and NLCS in cakewalks through the Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mountain Men from the Mile High City had been brought back to earth - and back to sea level - with a thud.
Early in the game, I turned to the woman sitting to the left of me and said: “You look very familiar. I am sure we have met.”
“You look familiar, too. I am Dick Radatz’s daughter.”
“Of course. We met at Autograph Alley, where your Dad used to sign on a regular basis. We really miss him.”
“I miss him everyday. He would love to be here tonight.”
(For those of you born after 1965, Dick Radatz, a.k.a. “The Monster” was the Boston Red Sox first real closer. He was the Jonathan Papelbon of his era. A member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Radatz died in 2005.)
The Red Sox kept pounding away at Francis and his successors who attempted to douse the flames of the red hot
The Red Sox relentless pursuit of another World Series Championship had gotten off to a sterling start. Not even the presence of Eric Gagne on the mound in mop-up duty in the 9th inning could quench the crowd’s delight and enthusiasm.
As the 9th inning wound down to the inevitable denouement of a Red Sox victory, Ms. Radatz prepared to leave before the final out. She turned to me, offered a bear hug and a kiss on the check, and softly said: “Thanks for remembering my Dad.”
Yes, indeed. It was a special night in a special place that is home to a very special team.