As Kansas City finds itself in its first World Series since 1985, its easy to think upon our own championship drought, which ended in 2004.
It’s been a decade since Boston's boys of summer willed their way out of the American League Championship Series in unlikely fashion and finally put to bed the ghosts of Ruth, Dent, Buckner, Boone (and countless others).
On the morning of 27 October, 2004, Red Sox fans opened their eyes – having closed them only a few hours before – with a single thought, “this could actually happen.” Some spoke of their constant belief, others spoke of wary optimism, brutal fatalism; and some had completely washed their hands of the franchise that had let them and their forefathers down so consistently over the decades.
On that morning, the morning of Game Four of the World Series, The Exchange looked fate full in the face and winked. Surely talking about “it” in such a public forum would jinx any chance Manny, Pedro and the rest of the boys had of winning. But we had some hearty guests in the studio who did not blanch at the timeliness of discussing the 2004 season and the psychology of Red Sox Nation.
None other than Bill Littlefield (host of NPR’s Only a game) and Vin Silvia (then Deputy Sports Editor at the Union Leader) joined Laura, and did well not to giggle at the prospect of fulfillment. (The program actually aired during our Fall Fund Drive, but don’t worry the pitch breaks have been removed.)
NHPR's The Front Porch was also caught up in the tsunami sweeping across Red Sox Nation that October. Our guest, novelist Howard Frank Mosher, imagined a World Champion Red Sox team in his book Waiting for Teddy Williams (published: Aug 2004). As much as it is the story of a kid from a small town in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom who ends up pitching for the sox, the NEK and life in that rural part of the state are also important characters in the book.
The Porch's producer must have hesitated to air this when Mosher came out and said, “Now on the eve of the World Series, the Red Sox are going to win that World Series.” This kind of spit-in-the-eye hubris would surely be preamble to a fall.
But of course the fall did not come. The following spring, as the Nation fairly glowed ahead of opening day and the raising of the banner at Fenway, life-long and oft-bitten Sox fan, Lois Shea, remembered the 2004 post-season and how she had finally given up on the hometown heroes after game 3 of the ALCS. She declared that she would not watch game 4 and was shamed into watching it by a “say it ain’t so” moment with a child neighbor.
In the early hours of the 2006 season, Shea Zeller spoke with Cecilia Tan on the Front Porch, co-author of The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games. SPOILER ALERT, first place was a tie between games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS. There’s also an excerpt of The Hyzdu Diaries, the audio diary of eight-year MLB prospect Adam Hyzdu.