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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: A walk, a stolen base and three championship trophies

  • Bill Pratt, of Boscawen, poses for a selfie with one of the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display at Grappone Park in Concord on Friday morning, June 20, 2014.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bill Pratt, of Boscawen, poses for a selfie with one of the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display at Grappone Park in Concord on Friday morning, June 20, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jake Nagel (center) waits as his family gathers around the table where Red Sox's World Series trophies on display for a photo at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jake Nagel (center) waits as his family gathers around the table where Red Sox's World Series trophies on display for a photo at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Laurel Buxton, 14, (left) watches as her cousin Will McDevitt, 6, traces the letters on Nathaniel Buxton's Red Sox hoodie outside of the tent where Red Sox's World Series trophies were on display at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family, on vacation in New Hampshire from Arkansas, stopped at a store on the way to the event to buy Red Sox gear that they could wear to the event. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Laurel Buxton, 14, (left) watches as her cousin Will McDevitt, 6, traces the letters on Nathaniel Buxton's Red Sox hoodie outside of the tent where Red Sox's World Series trophies were on display at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family, on vacation in New Hampshire from Arkansas, stopped at a store on the way to the event to buy Red Sox gear that they could wear to the event.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Adam Cyr, 12, (center) jumps while crossing home plate during an impromptu baseball game with local kids at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. Cyr came to the park to see the Red Sox's World Series trophies and knocked a ball out of the park during the game. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Adam Cyr, 12, (center) jumps while crossing home plate during an impromptu baseball game with local kids at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. Cyr came to the park to see the Red Sox's World Series trophies and knocked a ball out of the park during the game.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Addison Starrett, 3, eats popcorn while watching a baseball game at Grappone Field with her dad on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family came to see and take pictures with the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Addison Starrett, 3, eats popcorn while watching a baseball game at Grappone Field with her dad on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family came to see and take pictures with the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bill Pratt, of Boscawen, poses for a selfie with one of the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display at Grappone Park in Concord on Friday morning, June 20, 2014.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jake Nagel (center) waits as his family gathers around the table where Red Sox's World Series trophies on display for a photo at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Laurel Buxton, 14, (left) watches as her cousin Will McDevitt, 6, traces the letters on Nathaniel Buxton's Red Sox hoodie outside of the tent where Red Sox's World Series trophies were on display at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family, on vacation in New Hampshire from Arkansas, stopped at a store on the way to the event to buy Red Sox gear that they could wear to the event. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Adam Cyr, 12, (center) jumps while crossing home plate during an impromptu baseball game with local kids at Grappone Field in Concord on Friday, June 20, 2014. Cyr came to the park to see the Red Sox's World Series trophies and knocked a ball out of the park during the game. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Addison Starrett, 3, eats popcorn while watching a baseball game at Grappone Field with her dad on Friday, June 20, 2014. The family came to see and take pictures with the Red Sox's World Series trophies that were on display. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Boston’s three recent World Series trophies, displayed under a tent yesterday at Grappone Park in Concord, all looked the same.

Upon closer inspection, however, the one on the left had “2004” inscribed on the bottom, and that represented a whole different ballgame.

It marked the end of a curse and the start of a new era, reshaping and refueling optimism in New England, providing memories and magic that won’t fade, and, in the space of just a few days that fall, knocking this Yankees fan and all others right out of the ballpark.

In Red Sox history, there is 2004, and then there are the team’s other 113 seasons.

Rebecca Buxton lived in Hudson that year with her husband, Dwayne, who grew up in Weare. They’re here on vacation visiting family, and they brought their four children to Grappone Park to see this baseball hardware, shiny in the bright sun.

“It was all about the playoffs that year,” Rebecca said. “It was all about beating the Yankees that year.”

The rivalry was changed forever.

Ending Boston’s 86-year World Series drought was sweet around here, but doing it after a miracle comeback against the Yankees in the playoffs had to be experienced to be believed.

By fans of both teams.

In fact, if you had pitched that script in Hollywood, the producer would have thrown you out of the game. Or at least out of the office.

Winning a best-of-7 playoff series after falling behind, three games to none? A ninth-inning rally against the Yankees in Game 4? Off Mariano Rivera, the best relief pitcher ever? After losing to the Yankees in seemingly every big game since the Stone Age?

I was the Monitor’s sports columnist at the time, writing a color piece off the TV the night of Oct. 17, 2004. I had my column written, sometime before midnight, the one about the Yankees beating the Red Sox, again, this time in a four-game sweep.

Then, with a one-run lead and needing three outs to close the deal, Rivera walked Kevin Millar leading off the ninth. Then Dave Roberts, acquired in case the Red Sox needed a big stolen base, pinch ran for Millar.

Then Roberts stole second.

The memory of Roberts’s fingertips reaching the bag, less than a second before Derek Jeter’s sweep tag touched his left forearm, with dirt sprinkling through the air, is a moment that stopped New England’s collective heartbeat and, for an instant, shut out all noise, from Hartford, Conn., to the far reaches of Maine.

Then Bill Mueller singled to center to tie the score, David Ortiz socked a game-winning home run in the 12th inning, and my column never ran.

Rebecca Buxton spent part of that series painting the trim in her bathroom to calm her nerves, popping her head out of the door now and then and yelling down the hall to Dwayne, “What’s the score?”

When the series ended, when the Red Sox had come back from the dead to win, Dwayne grabbed the bottle of champagne the couple had gotten seven years earlier as a wedding gift and placed it on the kitchen counter, mindful not to pop the cork until the task was through.

“We saved it for a special occasion,” Dwayne said.

That occasion came 10 days later, after Boston swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The Red Sox have won two more trophies since, in 2007 and last season.

They weigh 30 pounds and feature 30 gold-plated flags, arranged circularly, with shorter flagpoles in front and taller ones in the back.

Fans posed for pictures behind the trophies, which were lined up on a long table. The stories that accompanied yesterday’s event flowed like the champagne in the Buxton home 10 years ago.

Joe Russell of Concord, the vice president of Concord Little League, watched Game 4 of the Yankees series in the living room, his wife Sharon in the bedroom, their tradition for all big Red Sox games.

“When Dave Roberts stole second, time stopped for everyone,” Russell said. “I coach a Little League team, and some players have specific roles. We call them the Dave Roberts Roles.”

Bob Pothier of Warner, the president of Concord Little League, grew up in Medford, Mass. He had tickets for Game 4, and he asked his brother, Gerry, to go with him.

Gerry said no.

“They’ve broken my heart way too many times,” Gerry said, according to Bob.

So Pothier took Gerry’s daughter, Rachel, and the two had a blast.

“No one sat after the sixth inning,” Pothier said. “No one sat for the rest of the game.”

By Game 7, after the Red Sox had won three straight, after the Yankees’ aura of invincibility had been torn apart, Pothier said his mindset had changed.

The Red Sox won the game, 10-3, qualifying for the World Series.

“The momentum was theirs,” Pothier said. “The Yankees were dead. You could see it in their faces.”

It still hurts, even today.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Related

Red Sox trophies leave park early

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Boston Red Sox were charged with an error yesterday at Grappone Park in Concord. And because of it, their fans were shocked when they arrived expecting to see the three World Series trophies that the team has earned over the past 10 years. Originally scheduled to be displayed from 9 a.m. to noon, several Red Sox employees slipped green … 0

I asked the Red Sox rep if these were the "road" versions, and all three trophies are the real deal. No replicas. Tell me, can you envision JRY Corp taking these trophies around for all Red Sox fans to see in the close proximity of their respective hometowns? Remember now, these were the same guys who wanted to demolish Fenway Park, and replace it with a replica. Not only would JRY Corp never trouble themselves to shuttle the trophies all over New England, but one probably wouldn't even get a glimpse of them in Boston. Personally, I applaud John Henry, et al, for the generous access. Btw, they had four stops to make on Friday, Concord being the first.

I got there a bit after 9am. Saw them and took a few photos, leaving a bit disappointed. They looked like cheap replicas to me; the bases were dull, almost tarnished from handling. Anybody else agree?

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