I’m no baseball fan, but I can see a milestone in American cultural history when it happens.
BOSTON (Reuters) – Thousands of bleary-eyed Red Sox fans showed up for work on Thursday still stunned and giddy after a night of celebrating something many thought impossible: a World Series victory for baseball’s perennial also-rans that put an end to an 86-year-old curse.
“I’m in disbelief. I don’t know how to take it,” said Meg Connerton, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who stood with friends on a busy street as dozens of equally incredulous motorists blared their horns in celebration.
Even Boston’s two main newspapers seemed tongue-tied in disbelief. The Boston Globe’s headline simply said “Yes!!!,” while the Boston Herald proclaimed “Amen!.”
Under a total lunar eclipse in St. Louis, the Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the Cardinals to win their first World Series title since 1918.
In doing so, Boston exorcised the “Curse of the Bambino,” which some believe has prevented the Red Sox from winning a World Series since Sox owner Harry Frazee traded the legendary Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
And in the final innings of the U.S. presidential race, Democratic contender and Bostonian Sen. John Kerry took heart from the result as he battled President Bush in Tuesday’s race for the White House.
“About a year ago when things weren’t going so well in my campaign somebody called a radio talk show and they said, thinking they were just cutting me right to the quick, they said ‘John Kerry won’t be the president until the Red Sox win the World Series.’ Well, we’re on our way.”
The historic victory came on the 18th anniversary of the Red Sox World Series Game Seven defeat by the New York Mets in 1986. In that series, Boston held a 3-2 lead, but a series of miscues led to the team’s collapse.
Lifelong Sox fan Thijs Messelaar, raised in Ipswich, Massachusetts, said that loss still haunted him.
“I remember watching Game Six of the 1986 Series prepared to celebrate with confetti in my hands — and then being crushed,” Messelaar said. “I hoped one day I’d be able to see a different ending, and here it is.”
ARRESTS AFTER EARLIER VIOLENCE
In Boston, police made 35 arrests and said at least 49 people had suffered injuries as tens of thousands of fans — many of them college students — descended on the streets around Fenway Park, the Red Sox’ home.
Hundreds of police clad in riot gear were on hand to try to avert a repeat of the deadly violence that erupted last week when the Red Sox beat their archrivals, the New York Yankees to advance to the World Series.
In that melee, a college student was killed after being struck by a projectile holding pepper spray fired by police. Later in the week the city will host a huge victory parade that could draw well over a million people.
When the Red Sox last won the title in 1918, World War One was in its dying days, and television, the car radio and bubble gum had yet to be invented.
Eighty-six years later, some Red Sox fans seemed in awe that they had witnessed something their forebears could only dream about.
Lisa Sjostrom of Cambridge said when the last out was recorded in St. Louis, she immediately thought of her late grandfather and late uncle.
“The first thing I did was yell out: ‘Grampa, Uncle Dick, they won!”‘ she said. “It felt really sweet to say that.”
Boston baseball columnist Dan Shaughnessy, in a column in Thursday’s Boston Globe, said Red Sox fans would no longer be forced to endure chants of “1918” from rivals.
“Time … to rejoice. Time to dance. Time to go to your window, open it wide, stick your head out and scream, ‘The Red Sox won the World Series,”‘ he wrote.
“No-one’s been able to do that in Boston since Woodrow Wilson was president.”