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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  November 24, 2004
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At last! Red Sox fans see team break �the curse�
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BOSTON (AP) -- All the dashed hopes year after year, for 86 years, melted away for Red Sox fans.

Some popped open champagne bottles that had been on ice for the few other times the Sox had ended up in the World Series�only to be set aside to gather dust when the team found another epic way to lose. Others recalled relatives who died still hoping to see the Sox win a World Series.

Still others reveled in the badge of honor they wore proudly rooting for a team that inevitably left them muttering at the end of another disappointing season, often foiled by the dreaded rival New York Yankees.

But this year was different. Not only did the Sox turn the tables on the Yankees, staging a historic comeback against them in the ALCS, but they emerged victorious in a World Series sweep over their National League nemesis: the St. Louis Cardinals.

�It doesn�t get better than this,� said Eric Imhof, 23, of Boston. �And to be alive during this is one of the greatest things to happen to us, because you never know when it�s going to happen again.�

Keith Lyons, 36, a Myrtle Beach, S.C., bar manager originally from Beverly, took vacation for a week and drove up with his wife, Jessica, 29, just so he could be on the Sox home turf to witness it all.

Lyons said he barely remembered the Red Sox appearance in the 1975 World Series, but he does recall getting out of school early to see the 1978 one-game playoff against the Yankees.

�When Bucky Dent hit that home run, I wanted to leave the room.  But my mother said, �You can�t be a fair-weather fan.� From that point on, I knew what it was like to be a Red Sox fan,� he said.

In 1986, the last time the Sox were in a World Series, he made sure to have a bottle of champagne chilling for what he thought would be a victory over the New York Mets.

�I had it on ice, turned on the radio to listen to Joe Castiglione and we never got another out. ... The champagne is sitting in my hotel room cooling for the first time since 1986. I really don�t care how it tastes.�

Like a number of other fans interviewed at the Who�s on First bar on Yawkey Way, he said he didn�t know how he�d feel about the Red Sox turning what appeared to be a destiny of disappointment on its ear.

�I�m still trying to figure that out,� Lyons said. �I might do a better job at work, love my wife even more, maybe even watch Trading Spaces, I�d love to find out.�

Jessica Lyons, who is originally from Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, said she could remember her father crying while watching the game in 1986.

�I remember looking at my dad, he had tears in his eyes. I had never seen him cry,� she said.

And what about the prospect of the Sox doing the unthinkable? �It�ll be a big sigh of relief. Life will get back to normal,�

she said. �Then again, I love this and don�t know if I want to get back to normal.�

Through each out against the Cardinals and as each run was scored by the Sox in Game 4 of the World Series, cheers erupted�and, for a change, very few groans. As each inning ticked off, the hoorays grew louder, the tension eased, and Sox fans grew more confident.

Bill Ryan, a Boston computer consultant who saw his first Red Sox game at age 8 in the 1950s, said it will take time for fans to adjust to the team�s winning ways.

�There�s more to talk about when you win than when you lose,� Ryan said at a bar at Durgin Park, a landmark restaurant in the Quincy Market downtown shopping district.

�When you lose, you can always talk about �What if? What if?� ... That makes for a good intellectual conversation. You don�t have that when you win. I�m not sure what we�re going to talk about now.�

Like generations of Red Sox followers, Ryan was taught by his parents how to handle the disappointment that had become all-too routine: �Disappointment gives you character.�

Paul Donahue, a 44-year-old Xerox manager from Boston, who watched the game outside the �Cheers� bar at Quincy Market, also wondered about the new status of the Red Sox.

�What do you do? You�re used to being an also-ran every year,� Donahue said.

Donahue attended 30 Red Sox games this season, but he doubts he will be at Fenway as frequently next season.

�I don�t think they�ll have the same emotional attachment for me. And I think they�ll lose a little cachet around the country as well,� Donahue said. �If the Cubs win it all, I would feel the same way. I wouldn�t like them as much.�

Can Sox fans learn how to root for a winning team? How will it feel to no longer be the verbal punching bags for Yankee fans who have reveled in chanting �1918� to taunt the Sox?

And even though the Sox beat the Cardinals to win the World Series�isn�t the real vengeance reserved for the Yankees?

�They just have to get this off their backs and no one can make fun of us anymore,� said Peter Roy, 47, of Boston. �And then we can say �Year 2000� to the Yankee fans because they haven�t won since then.�


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