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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 16, 2005
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A catch, a celebration, a dynasty of disappointment is over
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Doug Mientkiewicz broke down and cried. He joined the Red Sox just three months ago, yet he knew what it meant to be a part of Boston�s first World Series title since 1918.

Orlando Cabrera wanted so badly to be a part of the mob of players hugging along the first base line that he took a running start before throwing himself on top of the scrum. He was also acquired on July 31; a free agent, he could be gone as quickly as he came.

�You can�t play in Boston and not be aware of what the tradition is, what the history is,� said closer Keith Foulke, who signed with the team last winter. �I wanted to come here and be a part of history. Eight months later, we did it.�

From Trot Nixon, drafted in 1993, to Mike Myers, signed Aug. 6, the Boston Red Sox celebrated their first World Series title in 86 years after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in Game 4 on Wednesday night to clinch a World Series title nine decades in the making.

Gathered at the dugout railing, they watched Edgar Renteria bounce the last out back to the mound. Foulke made the underhand toss to Mientkiewicz and that was it.

�I was thinking, �Get it to first, and we�re champions,�� Foulke said in the clubhouse, out of breath and drenched in champagne.

He did, and they are.

With a leap, Mientkiewicz ran toward home plate. Foulke jumped into catcher Jason Varitek�s arms. Manny Ramirez went to the mound to don a World Series Champion hat, while a clubhouse assistant picked up Boston�s game hats for posterity; Pedro Martinez�s is going to the Hall of Fame, along with Curt Schilling�s spikes and Ramirez�s bat.

Mientkiewicz hugged his father and mother near the pitcher�s mound, tears in all of their eyes. Dave Roberts� 4-year-old son gathered dirt from the mound and grass from the infield.

Cameras swarmed around them and flashed in the stands. One fan held up a sign that said, �Wait Till This Year.�

�I bet the whole city of Boston is excited,� said pitcher Tim Wakefield, who has been in Boston the longest. �They�ve gotten to celebrate a lot of other world championships, but never the Red Sox. Now, we are proud to say we�re world champions.�

For two days, it was hard to separate the Red Sox fans interloping in Cardinal Country from the locals, both of them bathed in red. But afterward, when the St. Louis fans filed out to the exits, the Bostonians congregated behind the visitors� dugout.

Their obligatory derogatory chant about the Yankees gave way to encouraging ones for their own team, as if they�ve finally gotten over the inferiority complex. They were still there an hour later when Martinez took the World Series trophy for a victory lap.

�Eighty-six years is quite a struggle. And you can�t ignore that,� team president Larry Lucchino said, champagne dripping from his World Series Champion hat. �But we don�t want to win a World Series championship once every 86 years. We�d like to come back and do it again soon.�

The Red Sox had come close before, losing the Series in seven games in 1946, �67, �75 and �86. They were five outs from winning another pennant last year when everything fell apart in the home of the hated Yankees.

All week long, Red Sox officials were hearing from former players calling to wish the team luck.

�I�m happy for the fans in Boston,� Schilling said. �I�m happy for Johnny Pesky, for Bill Buckner, for (Bob) Stanley and (Calvin) Schiraldi and all the great Red Sox players who can now be remembered for the great players that they were.�

The celebration started when Derek Lowe came off the mound after seven innings of three-hit ball, and his teammates congratulated him. In the eighth, when Gabe Kapler pinch ran for Nixon at second base, they exchanged a handshake that looked like it had been rehearsed for 86 years.

It was over.

The game, the Series, the wait.

Even the people in Boston knew it.

�The game is over and 1918 is gone forever. We�re not going to have to hear about that again,� Nixon said. �I�m sure the people back in Boston are so happy. I hope so.�

They celebrated at the ballpark in the Fenway. They celebrated from Boston to the Berkshires, in all of New England and wherever Red Sox fans gathered. That guy who brought a Red Sox cap to the top of Mount Everest, hoping his prayer would release the team from its dynasty of disappointment, maybe he was right after all.

Before the game, manager Terry Francona was asked if he would want to save anything from the game that clinched Boston�s first World Series in 86 years. His lineup card, perhaps, or maybe something from his Busch Stadium office.

�The thing I would cherish the most would just be watching the guys jump on the pile,� Francona said. �That would do it for me.�

When the time came, he lingered in the dugout for only a moment, hugged his coaches and joined the celebration.

�Being the world champion is by far the best. I didn�t do this for any other reason,� he said. �We can�t reverse what was a long time ago.

�I�m sure there are a lot of people in New England that are dancing in the streets right now. For that, I�m thrilled. I can�t wait to go back and join them.�


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