October 18, 2004
A match made in… heaven? That certainly depends on who you’d be asking. To remain impartial, I’d say, not quite… But arguably the wildest ALCS of all time.
At 5:11pm, Game Four of the American League Championship Series was underway. The Yankees were up on the series 3-1 against the time-rivaled Boston Red Sox. A loss that night for the Sox meant another year of disappointment. Another year without a Series title. Another year of bad luck after 86 years of the Curse of the Bambino, which began in 1919 when Boston, a winning team, sold The Babe to the Yankees.
But something unknowable and unexplainable was in the air at Fenway Park that evening. The Sox were down by two runs late in the game. They were looking to hang up their uniforms until next season, quietly shuffle out the locker room, and turn off the stadium lights- until the bottom of the eighth inning.
Better late than never, they arrived: A solo shot by Big Papi. A sac fly for Jason Varitek. And they had done it, they had tied it! Perhaps October 18 2004 was not the end of the light. Onward, into extra innings it was.
The two teams tugged at either end of the rope, but neither budged into the 14th inning. Then, with the power of clutch, David Ortiz took charge, and knocked in one bearded and bewildered Johnny Damon, for the win after a grueling five hours and 49 minutes of play, seven pitchers for either team, 30 men left on base, and 471 pitches.
Not only did the Red Sox live to see another October ballgame because of their unsuspected success on October 18 2004, but they won both games six and seven and were the first team to return from a 3-0 deficit to win the League Championship Series. And not only did they win the ALCS, of course, but the Curse was finally lifted and the Boston’s baseball club took home the long awaited trophy and the so terribly missed title.
You can read the box score and stats from the game on Baseball-Reference.
Do you have a favorite baseball tradition? Is there a particular ghost of baseball past you would like to revisit? Ever wonder why they do what they do, and when they started doing it? If you have a suggestion, question, or submission for Throwback Thursday, contact Elise by tweeting @Elise_Myers.