Tim Neverett offers his memories of World Series triumph
The World Series experience is over for this year but Major League teams, including the Red Sox, are already working on the business of the 2019 season. Team and player options have been exercised or declined this week and qualifying offers were extended. Agents and teams are strategizing on free agents and most players are either on vacation or recuperating from the grind of the long baseball season.
This Red Sox season was one like no other. Never before had they won 108 games during the regular season. Never before had they beaten two 100-win teams, rather handily I might add, on their way to the American League Pennant. Never before had they traveled cross country to claim the World Series trophy. Never before had they gone 11-3 in the postseason. Of all of the Red Sox teams in the long and storied history of the Fenway Franchise, the 2018 version was the best one ever. It is not even arguable.
Mookie Betts won the American League batting crown with a .346 average, the best in MLB, and should take home MVP honors soon. J.D. Martinez has already been presented with the Hank Aaron award for being the most productive hitter in the A.L. His 130 RBI’s were a Major League best. David Price finally flushed the postseason doldrums and made a solid case for World Series MVP. Price won three straight postseason games with 6+ innings pitched, allowing 3 hits or fewer. He had never done that for three straight games in his entire career.
I first met World Series MVP Steve Pearce on a bus in January of 2009 while caravanning through snowy western Pennsylvania on a week-long publicity tour. He was a top prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates who they were hoping would make the permanent jump from AAA to the Big Leagues that year. While it didn’t happen full time for him in Pittsburgh, he ended up a journeyman and has played for every team in the American League East (three times with Baltimore), as well as part of one season with the Houston Astros in 2012 when they were still in the National League. Pearce’s three World Series home runs matched only one other Red Sox player ever in that department. Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski also hit three homers, in the 1967 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Pearce is now a Boston October Legend.
Post Game Parties
The post-game celebration in the Dodgers visiting clubhouse was off the charts. Several tubs filled with ice, champagne and beer didn’t take all that long to be emptied. Queen’s “We are the Champions” was the first song to blare over the portable speakers a couple of the players had brought for the occasion. Then, probably in an effort to troll back at the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was cranked up with the players singing at full throttle.
Once the TV cameras and the press were ushered out, it was time for the Red Sox to have the clubhouse to themselves and they went a little wild. With music still blaring, Craig Kimbrel and Alex Cora were tossed into the ice-filled tubs and showered with beer and champagne, all the while the scent of cigar smoke filled the room.
Back at the team hotel in Pasadena, the Huntington Room was prepared and waiting for another victory party to start.
The newly-crowned World Champs departed Los Angeles International Airport the next afternoon. A noon departure was planned but a slight mechanical issue delayed the flight by a little more than an hour. Not a single passenger on the plane seemed to care. Bullpen Coach Craig Bjornson, who is quite a character, entertained us with some impromptu stand-up comedy and passed around something he called “World Series Holy Water.”
On approach to Logan Airport, the pilot cracked open the loudspeaker and said, “From Air Traffic Control, congratulations on your World Series Championship. We have been cleared for an expedited landing on Runway 33. Air Traffic Control has changed your call sign from Delta #8884 to ‘Red Sox One.'” Once off the plane, I could see many airport workers, baggage handlers, tug operators, and security personnel with their arms in the air, screaming in adoration, many with their phones out taking pictures or videos. And that was just the start of it.
Duck Boat Ride
On Wednesday morning, following a two-hour drive to Fenway from my home in Nashua, it was time for the Rolling Rally. I was on Waterfront Wanda, also known as Duck Boat #11. My radio partner, Joe Castiglione, and three of his grandchildren were with me along with NESN’s Jerry Remy, Hall of Famer Jim Rice, and Tom Caron. It was an absolutely incredible display. A literal sea of humanity filled the Fens and Back Bay all the way to City Hall Plaza to greet and cheer on the Red Sox. It was a real adrenaline pumper of a parade and the perfect way to cap off this historic season.
For me, the offseason is here, but it has been shortened a little. I will go back to work on Tuesday afternoon with a college basketball doubleheader on NESN Plus, then on to college hockey with a Hockey East game between UMass and Providence on Thursday night, also on NESN Plus. I want to thank Alan Greenwood, Tom King, and everyone at The Telegraph for allowing me the opportunity to share with you my up-close and inside view of this special season of Red Sox baseball. Thank you for reading.
The Red Sox first Grapefruit League exhibition game of 2019 is February 23rd at JetBlue Park Fenway South at 1:00 p.m… against the Yankees.
Nashua native and resident Tim Neverett has just completed his third season as Red Sox Radio Play-By-Play Announcer for the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network throughout New England. Tim can be found on Twitter @timneverett.