Fenway prepped for party of a lifetime

October, 30, 2013
10/30/13
12:00
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BOSTON -- There have been some spectacular moments at Fenway Park in her 101 years of existence.

But not since the days of Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox has the home team celebrated a World Series championship at the storied ballpark. That could all change Wednesday (or Thursday) night.

Is she ready?

“Oh, yeah,” said Dave Mellor, director of grounds at Fenway.

[+] EnlargeFenway Park
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaThings were pretty quiet at Fenway the day before what could be a party 95 years in the making.
The Red Sox hold a 3-2 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and a win in either Wednesday’s Game 6 or Thursday’s Game 7 would give Boston its third championship in less than a decade. In 2004, the Red Sox clinched the title at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. In 2007, they won it all at Coors Field in Denver.

Now, the Red Sox and their fans hope, it’s this gal’s turn to be soaked in champagne. After all, she’s avoided the wrecking ball and will remain a part of history forever. She celebrated her 100th birthday a year ago, which happened to be one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

On Tuesday, it was relatively quiet around the old ballpark. The Red Sox went through their off-day workout and it seemed like any other day during the regular season. It was as though she was taking her pregame nap before the big event.

Ballpark workers gave Fenway a spit shine. The grounds crew manicured her pristine grass and made sure the “B Strong” logo in center field was perfect.

“I’m very superstitious and so we’re just stressing everything we’ve done all year,” Mellor said. “I’m very proud of my staff and the support we get from [ownership]. We’re looking forward to the excitement. It was fun watching in St. Louis and it was great being here for Games 1 and 2 and we’re excited to get the team back.

“We groom it just like we groom it for game whatever -- 2, 10, 50,” Mellor said. “I’m fortunate to have a great group of coworkers and we just stress attention to detail. It’s an honor to be out here. It’s fun to be a part of.”

Outside the ballpark, people were willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, trying to get a ticket for the potential clincher.

“There’s a lot of people with a lot of money willing to spend,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From a historic perspective, when you consider that an event like this hasn’t been here in a couple of generations, there’s a lot of people that are willing to take some extra cash and try to be a part of it.

“We don’t take for granted the passion that our fan base has or that our fans have. And I think our guys 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. And that has grown out of the personalities that are here now, and like I said before, the way we play the game.”

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz looks forward to the prospect of winning the Series in Boston, but wants fans to be safe.
In 2004, the Red Sox, the bunch known as the “Idiots,” erased 86 years of misery and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series at Busch Stadium. The Red Sox celebrated in St. Louis and returned home to a hero's welcome.

“I don’t know what it would have been like [to win at Fenway],” former Red Sox Kevin Millar said. “That first one’s always the craziest. This team is a lot like the ’04 team. The city has definitely gravitated toward this group of guys, and this being a chance to be the first time in a long time to celebrate here at home, we’ll see. Only time will tell if [Fenway’s] ready.”

Millar admits the idea of winning at Fenway Park never came up while the ’04 team was traveling back from St. Louis that October.

“No,” he said. “Ours was so dynamic with the Yankees series, and then we swept the Cardinals, at that point you don’t care if you won it in another country. It was just about getting that first championship in 86 years. There was never any of that. I didn’t even think about that until it was brought up.”

Millar admits he discussed that fact with Red Sox ownership Monday night in St. Louis. He also remembers what it was like when the ’03 team clinched the wild card and how that group celebrated.

“We celebrated by running up Yawkey Way,” Millar said. “I can’t imagine winning a World Series. I mean, we were in full uniform across the street, so it’ll be pretty cool.”

In 2004, the Red Sox finished off the Yankees in the ALCS at Yankee Stadium in New York. It was a historic comeback for the Red Sox, who lost the first three games of that series. Fans converged around Fenway Park, but the party turned tragic when Emerson College junior Victoria Snelgrove was killed during the celebration after being shot in the eye by a projectile fired by police seeking to disperse revelers.

With that in mind, Red Sox veteran David Ortiz has a message for the fans.

“If we get it done tomorrow, hopefully, don’t go crazy, don’t be stupid. Have fun. Enjoy. But don’t be doing things that get you in trouble -- period,” Ortiz said Tuesday.

Win or lose, Ortiz and the Red Sox want fans to be respectful and safe.

“It’s going to be crazy, regardless,” Ortiz said. “It’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be unbelievable, but we have history of bad things happening when everything’s going down. I want to send this message to everyone: Enjoy this, and there are tons of different ways to have fun without doing anything stupid. Hopefully everybody’s aware of it.”

Fenway Park, the Red Sox and their fans have been waiting a long time to celebrate a World Series championship the good ol’ fashioned way in Boston. The Red Sox are one win shy of achieving that.

“This year, if that were to happen, it would just be awesome,” Mellor said. “Awesome.”

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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