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2005: Diary of a Season

On the evening of October 27, 2004, under the shadow of a lunar eclipse, Keith Foulke grabbed a bouncer back to the mound and tossed it to Doug Mientkiewicz. At that moment everything changed, and yet nothing was different. The Red Sox’ history-making run in 2004 liberated legions of faithful from a lifetime of heartache. But it didn’t make me content, able to say “Now my life is complete” and move on. It only served to make me more of a fan, if such a thing were possible. I grabbed tickets to as many 2005 games as I could as soon as they went on sale, ready to hop back on the rollercoaster and do it all over again. I went to 26 games at Fenway, attended three minor league games, and took road trips to St. Louis and the Hall of Fame. My stories and pictures are on the pages that follow.

The Winter

I always say there's no such thing as an off-season for the Red Sox, but this year it was especially true. I spent November catching up on the sleep I had been deprived of during the World Series run, and collecting every commemorative item produced. On Thanksgiving, we had no interest in football; instead we watched as NESN re-ran its coverage of the victory parade. December was spent trying to get tickets, and figuring out how to see the trophy in person. On Christmas, almost every gift I gave or received had something to do with the Red Sox. In January, it was time to read all the books that had already been published about the 2004 season. In February, I bought the rest of my 2005 tickets and watched as NESN replayed the ALCS and World Series games.

The only problem was getting tickets. The Red Sox had sold out every game since May of 2003, and it was clear they would again. I was able to renew my Tenth Man Plan, even though we had been told they were non-renewable when I bought them during their inaugural season. That was good, but it also meant I couldn't change the seats I had had, which were obstructed by the bullpen fence and in a permanent puddle. That took care of ten games, and we got a good selection of other games by waiting for hours in the dreaded "virtual waiting room" online.

My trophy and me at Christmas at Fenway But unlike past years, I hadn't been able to get Opening Day, and this was going to be the best opener ever, with the banner being raised and rings handed out and the Yankees in town. In 1999, the Red Sox had introduced "Value Packs", small packages of games - one of which included Opening Day - at a reduced rate. I lived outside of New England at the time, but my brother had purchased one. The next year I moved back to Massachusetts, but they didn't offer Value Packs again until 2001. I jumped on board that year, and in 2002 and 2003, those of us who had purchased them in the past were given first shot at that year's packs. (In 2003 they were renamed "Sox Pax" since they were no longer discounted.) There was a form to fill out and mail or fax, and then several weeks of waiting nervously to see if the request was fulfilled. For the 2004 season, the Red Sox held the first Christmas at Fenway. Several hundred fans attended, but it was no problem getting the Opening Day package. (Even though they went onsale online at the same time, we were told that some were being held back from online sales so that those of us who were there in person could get them.) But this year was different. Even though I got to this year's Christmas at Fenway at 5 am, there were over 1100 people in front of me in line, and Opening Day sold out long before I got my chance.

Even though I was disappointed about not being able to go to Opening Day, I couldn't wait for the season to start. If that was the price I had to pay for seeing them win, it was worth it.

The winter was no less of a whirlwind for the players themselves. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz went to Japan with other major league stars for a series of exhibition games. (Big Papi continued to hit monstrous home runs every night.) The Red Sox announced they'd be bringing the trophy to all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, plus rallies in each of the other five New England states, and appearances in New York, California, Florida, and the Dominican Republic. Most of these events involved a player or two. The Sox were on Letterman, Leno, magazine covers... It was hard to keep track of it all! And before I knew it, I was packing for Spring Training.

February 21 - 24, Fort Myers, Florida

Curt Schilling and Wade Miller

We made our annual trip to Fort Myers the week of President's Day, school vacation week in New England. It was a perfect time to escape the cold. It snowed back in Massachusetts a couple of times that week, but it was 80 and sunny every day we were there. We lucked out because practice was rained out the day after we left. I brought a picture of me with the World Series trophy, and got autographs of a bunch of the 2004 players on it. The players were great to spend so much time signing. Several of them were out there for a half hour or an hour at a time. One day Bill Mueller stayed over half an hour after most of the rest of the players cleared the field, patiently signing for everyone around while responding to question after question about the health of his knee (he had recently undergone arthroscopic surgery but was expected to be ready in time for the season to start) and the kids who wanted to know why he pronounced his name "Miller" while spelling it with a "U".

Most of the autographs come from being in the right place at the right time, catching them between practice fields, and mostly involved a lot of waiting, but we've had plenty of practice with that over the past 86 years. By the end of the week I managed to get Johnny Damon, Keith Foulke, Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn, Kevin Youkilis, Bronson Arroyo, David McCarty, Lenny DiNardo, Mark Malaska, Dale Sveum, Terry Francona, and Larry Lucchino on the trophy picture, which makes it the best World Series collectible I have! I also got a lot of the new players and prospects to sign a generic Fenway picture. (I'm willing to bet I was the first person on my street with a Simon Pond autograph!)

Tuesday was the first official full-squad workout, and it was absolutely packed. The normal crowd is about 500 fans, and we knew it would be bigger this year, but I was shocked to hear the final tally of over 2500 people that day. Red Sox Nation was out in full force!

The best part was just being able to see baseball. There are five practice fields at the complex, and they rotated around doing different drills. Batting practice, pitcher's fielding practice, infielders taking grounders, and catchers working on throwing out runners. In PFP the pitchers were fielding come-backers to the mound and throwing over to first. When it was Foulke's turn, the people near me all started yelling, "Don't throw it... Run it over there yourself... Don't let go of that ball, you'll never get it back!" (First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz had the ball from the final out of the World Series, and was planning on keeping it until a Globe reporter started a controversy that resulted in Doug loaning it to the team to display for a year.) Then after Foulke completed the drill by tossing it to first, one girl did Joe Castiglione's "Can you believe it" call.

The players were their usual "idiot" selves, which was fun to see. One day Trot Nixon wore Kevin Millar's jersey. The next day Alan Embree and Mike Timlin switched uniforms. Big Papi, Millar, and Johnny enjoyed posing for pictures in between rounds of batting practice. (Papi was smoking the ball during BP, hitting pitch after pitch over the fences, where kids were chasing them down and retrieving them.) It was also nice to see new shortstop Edgar Renteria and prospect Hanley Ramirez hanging out with Manny and Papi. It looked like the new guys wouldn't have any trouble fitting in.

The sun sets on Fort Myers Beach When practice ended, we spent our afternoons on Sanibel, Pine Island, and Fort Myers Beach. We finally got to go to Fort Myers Beach on the afternoon of our last day there. We found a place to park and hit the beach, when we realized we were right next to the Diamond Head Resort, where Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson were filming that night's New England Sports Tonight show, right on the beach. I pulled up my Red Sox beach towel and we sat on the sand as part of the live audience. Their guest that night was Trot Nixon, and I really wished I had brought the trophy picture with me, because he signed autographs afterward. We stayed around to watch a great sunset, then flew back the next morning.

For the rest of my pitcures from Fort Myers, see my Spring Training photo album.

Friday, April 8

Fever Pitch

The season opened on the road with three games in New York and three in Toronto. That Friday, the movie Fever Pitch opened in theaters, and my friends and I went to see it. One of my friends had been an extra in the scenes filmed in Fenway last fall. I had seen the filming of one scene after a game I went to last September. We went to see it the night it opened, but I wasn't sure what I was going to think of it. Some people were offended that the actors had been on the field in St. Louis when the Red Sox won, but that didn't bother me. I don't think there was any way anything about that night was going to bother me! I was more concerned, as a female diehard fan, about the stereotype that it's the guy who is the big fan and the girl who knows nothing abut baseball, and that it's the guy who needs to change his thinking.

But I was pleasantly surprised. Jimmy Fallon's character is right on - it's probably supposed to be an overblown exaggeration of a fan, but for followers of the Red Sox he's your average diehard. (I have Red Sox blankets and lamps and memorabilia all over my apartment, I go to Spring Training every year, and I'd dance for Yankee tickets!) In the rest of the country, it may be just another click-flick, but here in Red Sox Nation it's reality. For a diehard of either gender who's ever dated someone less fanatical than them, it will ring true. (And it's Drew Barrymore's character who comes around in the end!)

Fever Pitch Fever Pitch (Boston Red Sox Collector's Edition)
A Farrelly brothers romantic comedy starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. It's the story of a love triangle between a guy, a girl, and a baseball team. (The "Red Sox ending" is only a couple of minutes longer, but fans will enjoy the deleted scene when Ben first goes to Fenway with his uncle in the 80's.) [PG-13]

DVD - Buy from $13.99. Details/Order
VHS - Buy from Check availability and pricing

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This page and all photos copyright © 2005-2006 by Kristen D. Cornette.