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Sox fans yearn for a championship at Fenway

11:04 AM, Oct 30, 2013   |    comments
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Bob Nitengale
USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON -- Mike Romano, sitting in the window seat on the exit row of Flight 3703, can't believe what he's hearing Tuesday morning when the plane touches down at Logan Airport. It's the pilot, or perhaps it's a flight attendant, but someone is screeching on the intercom:  

"Let's Go Cardinals! Let's Beat Those Crybaby Red Sox!''
Romano, 53, a lifelong Red Sox fan despite growing up in the Bronx, is fuming.

"Fortunately for that guy,'' says Romano, proudly wearing his Red Sox cap, "this is a half-empty plane.

"Come on, you don't throw something like that in people's faces. Not here. This is Boston. He's got no clue what this game means to us.

"This is going to be the greatest night in the history of Fenway Park.''

In the last 95 years, maybe.

The Boston Red Sox, for the first time since 1918, can clinch their first World Series championship tonight (8:07 ET) at Fenway Park with a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"If they should happen to win the World Series at home,'' Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said, "they may as well start the parade after the final out because this city won't sleep.''

The Red Sox, leading the series, 3-2, have won two World Series championships in the last 10 years. They won in St. Louis in 2004. Colorado in 2007. None in Boston.

Even when they became the first team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series in 2004 to stun the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, the last two games were at Yankee Stadium.

Yet, never have they clinched a World Series championship at home since the Woodrow Wilson administration, and a fella by the name of Babe Ruth was pitching for them.

"When we won the World Series in '04, that was huge here,'' says Casey Polaski, 65, a lifelong Red Sox fan from Worcester, Mass., who still wears No. 8 in honor of Carl Yastrzemski in his slow-pitch softball games. "But our World Series was beating the Yankees. That was bigger than beating the Cardinals in the real World Series.

"If we win this here, at Fenway, I'm not sure it would be greater than '04. It had just been so long. But, ooh boy, it sure comes close.''

Romano, a licensed ticket-broker by trade, certainly has the fistful of tickets - along with wads of money - for proof that Game 6, or a potential Game 7, is more significant to Red Sox fans than any game ever played at Fenway Park.

"I haven't seen anything like this at a World Series game," he said. "It is nuts.''

Romano opened up his iPad. He showed a credit-card transaction of $10,200 for the purchase of six tickets. They were grandstand seats. At a face value of $200 per ticket.
They might have gotten a sweetheart deal.

When the flight landed, standing room-only tickets were going for $1,079.45. If you want the good stuff, check out StubHub. You can sit in front row, Box 49 seat for $13,202. Per ticket.
The average ticket price on the resale market is the highest in Boston's history, an average price of nearly $2,000, with two tickets purchased on StubHub Monday for a cool $24,000.

Let's see, honey, would you rather have a new Mercedes for Christmas, or tickets to a ballgame?

"I know my choice,'' says Polaski, will be bundled up, sitting in Section 89, Row XX.

"This is the World Series,'' says Romano, who saved a ticket from his boss' stash to watch the game in person. "This is history. This is the chance to see something nobody else has ever seen.''

And the proud folks of Boston are willing to pay just about anything to be part of an event that hasn't been witnessed in generations.

"We don't take for granted the passion that our fans have,'' Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And I think our fans get it. They understand their place here. And they understand what the Red Sox mean to this region, particularly this city.

"There's kind of a rekindled relationship between this team and the fans.''

It's unknown how passionate New Englanders were to the Red Sox 95 years ago, but just 15,238 fans bothered to see the Red Sox knock off those powerful Chicago Cubs, 2-1, on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 1918, paced by Carl Mays' three-hitter.
It was 13 years before another famous Mays was born.
Ninety-five 95 autumns have come and gone.

Today, on streets outside Fenway Park, walking along Yawkey Way, anticipation is palpable.

Well, either that, or it was the anxiety of squeezing thorough the mob of people buying merchandise at the Red Sox Store, the aroma of the sausage stands, and the taste of those $4 greasy pepperoni pizza slices.

It's the waning days of October. It's chilly. It's Fenway Park. And it is the World Series.

They will gather at Fenway Park for the first Game 6 since Carlton Fisk was seen waving his home run fair in 1975, followed by a Game 7 no one in these parts want to remember.

It's now time, these bearded wonders say, to create their own indelible image.

"That's one of the more memorable swings,'' Farrell said, "that has taken place in this ballpark.

"Hopefully, there's somebody (tonight) that can wave their arms just the same.''

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