General view of the National Anthem prior to game one of the MLB baseball World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. Photo: Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports
William M. Welch and Mike James
Babe Ruth celebrated on the field the last time the Red Sox won a World Series in Boston. And from Bangor to Bakersfield, the team's loyal fans are gearing up for what they hope will be the Bambino's return.
The prospect of winning a World Series championship at home in Fenway for the first time in nearly forever has Red Sox fans packing local sports bars throughout the USA, hoping to catch a glimpse of a glorious moment in New England sports history.
To say that expectations are high would be putting it mildly.
"The ghost of the Babe will be at Fenway, riding in on the bullpen cart after the Red Sox record the last out," says Rich Kimball, who hosts a radio show on WEZQ-FM in Bangor, Maine, that's been going wild with Red Sox fanatics calling in from everywhere.
"Not only that, but the Babe will be wearing a fake beard," Kimball says, a hairy allusion to the beards that many of the Red Sox players have sported this season.
With a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series, the Red Sox have the opportunity to win the series outright at home in Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. The two previous Red Sox series victories in the past decade, 2004 and 2007, came with final games won on the road.
And although a Red Sox victory at home would be "wonderful," Austin. resident Michael Sabra, 45, says the thunder of the celebration will probably have to be measured on the Richter scale.
"I just hope they don't tear down Fenway," Sabra says of the jubilation.
"It's amazing to be in Texas and realize how many fans there are from the Boston region," says Keith Daly, assistant manager at Little Woodrow's, a small watering hole in downtown Austin.
As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, Daly may be a bit conflicted, but he keeps the unofficial Red Sox anthem, "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond, ready on the jukebox for a Sox win. So do a lot of other New England-themed spots around the U.S.
At the Rhino bar in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown, bartender Gus Montes de Oca says there will be a packed house Wednesday. The Rhino is accepted as the capital's Red Sox bar.
"The atmosphere here will reflect the atmosphere of Fenway Park. We'll be full of Red Sox red," Montes de Oca says.
In Greenville, S.C., far from New England and surrounded by Atlanta Braves fans, the Red Sox have a minor league team affiliate and maintain a loyal if small following. One of the icons of Red Sox lore, Hall of Famer Jim Rice, hails from nearby Anderson, S.C.
Richard Kellett, 45, says he's been a fan since Rice's playing days in the 1970s. But he does admit that he is hoping that his greatest thrill from a Red Sox victory might not be from the game itself.
"Lord, I hope they win so they'll shave those ugly beards," he says.
"At home with the magic and the momentum, Boston does have the mystique," Kellett says.
Contributing: Yamiche Alcindor in New York; Sydney Kashiwagi in Washington; Rick Jevis in Austin; Laura Ruane of The (Fort Myers) News-Press; Daniel D'Ambrosio, Burlington Free Press; Ron Barnett, The Greenville News