Sunday, May 18, 2014

The 2013 World Champion Red Sox look back nearly 10 2004

The 2013 Red Sox look back nearly 10 2004

As the 10th anniversary of the 2004 season was approaching, I asked members of the 2013 Red Sox for whatever memories they might have of the 2004 postseason. Only one Red Sox player was on the 2013 team who had also been on the 2004 World Champions – David Ortiz. His thoughts are recorded elsewhere, and at some length. See, for instance, the book DON’T LET US WON TONIGHT.  The ages the 2013 players had in 2004 ranged from 14 (Jose Iglesias) to 29 (Koji Uehara) – and neither of them saw that year’s playoffs since they were in Cuba and Japan respectively.  Only a very few of the players in 2013 were in the majors in 2004 – Ryan Dempster, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, and John Lackey. The latter – Lackey – would likely have started Game Four for the Angels against the Red Sox had Boston not swept the Division Series in three games. The only one who appeared in the postseason that year was David Ross, who was with the Dodgers and got into two games during the Division Series against the Cardinals. Dempster had been with the Cubs and Gomes had appeared in five May games for Tampa Bay.

Perhaps befitting their roles as professional ballplayers and perhaps reflecting their sense that their career might take them from organization to organization, few of the players held a strong rooting interest for any team in the playoffs, though they did tend to pull for individual players.  

Each player with the 2013 Red Sox team was approached in May 2013 for a brief memory from 2004.

--Bill Nowlin

Alfredo Aceves was with the Yucatan Leones in the Mexican League in 2004. He was 21 years old at the time.

AA: I didn’t see those games.  I don’t remember it, I guess.

Andrew Bailey was a 20-year-old student at Wagner College on Staten Island at the time.

AB: Man, I remember – all of my teammates were Yankee fans and I like rooting against my friends in some competitiveness so obviously I was rooting for the Sox that series. Coming back from 3-0 was incredible. One of the greatest stories in baseball history. I was obviously not in the professional level at that point in time but for a really true fan of the game, that’s something you’ll never forget. Now being part of that organization is such an awesome feeling.

BN: I sort of wondered if most of the students there would have been Yankees fans.

AB: Oh, yeah! It’s like, my buddies are sitting there rooting for the Yankees and my team wasn’t in it – the Phillies weren’t in it. I grew up as a Phillies fan. My team wasn’t in it so I wanted to root against my buddies, you know?

BN: What about when it came to the World Series?

AB: I figured it was about that point in time…I’m a baseball fan in general. In order to play this game, you gotta be that, so I just enjoy good baseball. If my team’s not in it, I’m rooting for the game in general, just to be a good game.

Quintin Berry was in junior college in San Diego in 2004.

QB: I was in junior college. Grossmont. I remember watching it. I was just watching baseball. I didn’t really have a team I was pulling for or anything like that, but it was fun watching when Big Papi hit that homer and they were able to come back and win. I watched that whole series. Yeah, I watched it.

Xander Bogaerts, with an October 1 birthday, had just turned 12 in Aruba a few days before the playoffs began.

XB: There’s a lot of Yankees fans and Boston fans in Aruba, but most of them were Braves fans because of Andruw Jones.  He was a big thing back then.

BN: Did you watch any of that on television?

XB: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s the one with Dave Roberts and the steal.  Pretty much everyone was saying that the Red Sox were done and then seeing them come back. Millar was always positive – Kevin Millar, he said things are going to change. If they win that night, he was positive that they would win the next one. The Yankees were obviously stunned that they came back.

Craig Breslow played independent ball with the New Jersey Jackals of Little Falls, NJ, and in the California League with the High Desert Mavericks in Adelanto, California. He was age 24.

I only followed the playoffs that year as a casual fan. I’d just been released. I think I was pretty frustrated with the game and I probably took a little time away. I don’t remember much. Sorry I can’t help you.

Clay Buchholz, 20, was a student at Angelina Junior College.

CB: We watched all the games. They were down 3-0. Sitting and watching those games unfold after being down that much in the series and coming back and winning is obviously the thing that stands out in my mind. I grew up in Texas so I was always for the Rangers and Astros, and my favorite player to this day was always Derek Jeter. I played shortstop growing up.  A lot of the guys who are right-handed pitchers came up playing shortstop in Little League and high school.  So I watched him play.

BN: If the Red Sox were playing the Yankees, then, were you rooting for…?

CB: No, I  just liked Jeter. I liked watching him play. The thing that stands out in my head in that series is just David – Ortiz – and what he did. I definitely watched it.  I just watched all the games. It was neat watching it unfold as they came back knowing no team had ever done that.

BN: Would you say you began rooting for the  Red Sox?

CB: I definitely wanted them to win the World Series that year after they finished that series in New York. It was neat to watch. It had been a long time.

Mike Carp was playing rookie ball for the Mets in the Gulf Coast League. He was 18.

I watched them against the Angels, because that was on in California, and Big Papi. That comeback was unbelievable, to see that – and now to be sitting here in this clubhouse. Amazing.

BN: You were in the Mets organization then, but did you have a team that you cared about in the playoffs?

MC: Not really. They didn’t really have a team that I was too…involved in.

BN: But you watched them that year.

MC: Definitely keep an eye on the playoffs. It’s an exciting time. It’s something that every major leaguer wants to be a part of.  To see that and see the way they come back and won, it was a special thing. I hope we can get there this year.

BN: But may not have such a hard time about it, maybe.

MC: Yeah.

BN: Was there a team you liked more than any other growing up?

MC: Angels. I grew up about 15 minutes away. It was either Angels or Dodgers and I was more on the Angels’ side.

BN: But when the Red Sox won that year, you were OK.

MC:  I definitely thought it was pretty cool, especially after almost 100 years. For it finally to be over and to bring here a championship. They were on a good run in those years.

Pedro Ciriaco was 19. He’d played in the Dominican Summer League earlier that year, signed to an Arizona Diamondbacks contract.

I was, you know, a Red Sox fan at that time. I never did like Yankees. You know, Pedro was here at that time. Manny. Papi.  So I was a really huge fan.

BN: You were in the D-Backs system, in the Dominican Summer League, but they weren’t in the playoffs.

PC: Yeah, I was already with the Diamondbacks, but I remember that series. I enjoyed every game. The series with the Yankees, that was unbelievable. I remember every time Pedro Martinez was going to pitch, everybody in the country – the whole country was watching.

In 2004, Rubby de la Rosa was 15 and in the Dominican Republic.

RD: Actually, I don’t remember nothing.  That was a long time ago. I was in school during the night.

BN: Night school.

RD: Yeah. 

BN: So you just heard about it afterwards.

RD: Yeah. 

Ryan Dempster was 27 in 2004 and pitching for the Chicago Cubs. He had been Kevin Millar’s roommate with the Florida Marlins.

BN: What are some of your memories that year? I don’t know how much attention you paid.

RD: Yeah, I remember them being down 3-0 and coming all the way back. I just remember that and how incredible that was.

BN: Did you have a rooting interest in either team?
RD: Yeah, I was good friends with Kevin so I was rooting for them, obviously.

BN: And you were then?

RD: Yeah, we were roommates in the Florida years. I was pulling for them.

Felix Doubront turned 17 the day of Game One of the 2004 World Series. He was living in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela at the time.

FD: I had signed with the Red Sox in July 2004. They were my team.

BN: Were you able to watch some of the games on TV?

FD: At that moment, we were in the Parallela. [The Parallela Liga is a minor league in Venezuelan baseball.] I was a rookie for Boston in Valencia. All the excitement – the guys, the manager, the hitting coach – they came here to watch the World Series. Josman Robles. Miguel Garcia. A lot of those guys. They came up to watch the World Series.

BN: So I don’t have to ask you who you were rooting for? 

FD: No (laughs). It’s weird. My favorite team at that moment, before I signed, was the Yankees and the Mets. Those were the two teams that I followed the most right before when I signed with Boston. My agent told me that Boston didn’t have enough lefty pitchers in the minor league system, so I…

BN: You thought you might have a better chance to move up.

FD: To move up. Quicker. At that moment, it was very exciting to sign.

[Someone visiting with Felix at the time added: “I think most people in Venezuela liked the Yankees because they got the most coverage. It’s crazy. Every time there’s a game on TV in Venezuela, the Yanks are playing.]

Stephen Drew was at Florida State at the time, age 21.
SD: To be honest, I remember it only vaguely. I remember more about ’07, being up here and stuff. [Drew was with the Diamondbacks in 2007.]  ’04, I remember it, you know. Always watched the World Series, growing up. It was unbelievable how they came back. That’s remarkable. That’s what was so unique about it.  You get three games down, and you’re like, “Man!”

BN: And the third game was 19-8.

SD: Yeah, but you know, it’s just like that team never came up. They just kept going at it. It’s funny how baseball works, man.  It’s one game at a time, one pitch at a time, an done out at a time. That’s what it boiled down to that series.

BN: Did you have a team that you favored growing up?

SD: Ah, we just watched the TV so we saw the Braves. Watching the Braves, they were very good in the 90’s, as people know. We got to see a little bit of that growing up, but really, growing up, we didn’t have cable. We had the rabbit ears out in country but when they got to the playoffs and the World Series in ’95, we’d sit there and watch it, with those rabbit ears.

BN: Put some tin foil on them.

SD: Exactly. To pick it up. It was pretty neat.

BN: Were you here in Boston in ’07, when your brother was playing?

SD: No. I just got done. We got beat by the Rockies and he was going to go play them and I went home. I had my wife and son, so we just went back and…

BN: Watched on TV.

SD: That’s it.

Jacoby Ellsbury  was 20 and a student at Oregon State.

JE: I just remember watching it on TV. I remember it being exciting baseball to watch.

BN: Was there a team you wanted to see win? You hadn’t been signed to the Red Sox yet.

JE: I just wanted to see some exciting games and that’s what I got.

Jonny Gomes played outfield for Durham and appeared in five games for Tampa Bay in 2004, at age 23.

BN: After you finished playing, did you watch the playoffs that year?

JG: I went home like everyone else did. I don’t pick a team [to root for in a situation like that] but I’ve been to eight World Series. Seven as a fan, one as a player.  I’m a big fan of the game. What really stands out is Kevin Millar’s walk, which led to Dave Roberts’ stolen base and, you know, Bill Mueller. But what I would say stood out to me the most was each series clincher and then, of course, the World Series clincher and the celebration between 25 guys and the staff. Some people might look at it like, “Oh, they were going crazy” but you just really saw the passion of how tight-knit they were. The hugs and the champagne, it was just like…

BN: There was a little criticism that they over-celebrated in clinching a playoff spot in the first place.

JG: Well, it turned out those people were wrong – again. You know, again!  But that’s what stood out – it was like a wedding almost. Just like a family. Everyone having a good time.

BN: I guess some teams have more of that togetherness than others.

JG: I don’t know. I think whoever wins the last game of the year, it always turns out there are some characteristics in that clubhouse that makes for that.

BN: When you look back.

JG: Yeah. Yeah.

BN: There was a big trade at the trading deadline, with Cabrera and Mientkiewicz and Roberts. And Nomar left. Number 5 [I point to the #5 over his locker.] Maybe that changed the chemistry.

JG: Right. I wasn’t in the clubhouse yet, so I don’t know about that, but those guys played a pretty big role.

Jose Iglesias was living in Havana, Cuba and just 14 years old at the time of the 2004 season

BN: Do you remember that season at all, hearing about the Red Sox and the Yankees and the Cardinals?

JI: Not really.

BN: When you were growing up, were there any American baseball teams you liked?

JI: Boston and New York. They always been in demand by the fans. I think Boston and Yankees.

BN: You’ve heard about 2004 since, I guess. It’s the famous time when the Red Sox lost the first three games to the Yankees…

JI: And they came back. I heard about that as soon as I got here.

John Lackey had just completed his third year pitching for the Angels. He shares a birthday with Felix Doubront and turned 26 on the first day of the 2004 World Series.

BN: Would you have pitched Game Four for the Angels if the Division Series had gone to a fourth game?

JL: I don’t know if we’d decided totally yet, but probably. Yeah.

BN: After the Angels were eliminated, it was Yankees versus Red Sox. Did you lose interest at that point? Did you care who won?

JL: I’ve watched pretty much every playoff game…ever. I’m a baseball fan.

BN: Did you get to the point where you were pulling for one team or another?  I watch baseball games in which I don’t have a rooting interest but I always pick one team.

JL: No. I don’t root for other teams, but I like to watch good baseball. You definitely want some guys who you know to do well, but more individuals than teams.

BN: The ALCS was exciting baseball.

JL: Oh, yeah. For sure!  I think pretty much everyone knew whoever won  that ALCS was going to win the World Series.

Ryan Lavarnway was a 17-year-old at El Camino Real High School, Woodland Hills, California

October 2004? I don’t really have a lot to offer. I was a big Dodgers and once the Dodgers were out, I was kind of not interested anymore at that point. That’s what happens when you’re a fan of the local team.

Jon Lester pitched for the Florida State League Sarasota Red Sox in 2004. He was 20 years old.

JL: I came to Game Three up here against the Yankees. The bad one. I was just kind of thinking they were pretty outmatched. Obviously, being part of the organization you watch them. I followed them a little bit, but I was probably like 99 percent of the country, saying, “The Yankees are going to another World Series.” But once they came back, I figured it would be over. They were on that momentum. That’s a big part of the playoffs, momentum. You forget about yourself some. I figured once they got to the World Series, it was going to be pretty easy for them.

BN: Before you signed with the Red Sox, had you had a favorite team?

JL: Well, I guess the Mariners. That would be easy [given he grew up in Washington], but I didn’t really follow teams. I like the players.  Same thing – Marines. They had Griffey. He was someone from my generation’s side that everybody looked up to.

John McDonald had just finished his sixth season with the Indians in 2004.

JM: I like baseball so I like watching the playoffs. I was actually in Boston for a little bit of that – not at the games but seeing the madness, and the excitement of the team not
wanting to give up. It was really enjoyable and after they won [over the Yankees], I don’t think anybody could reasonable think they were going to lose after that. They just played
great baseball. The pitching they had – I think that’s what I remember the most about it. How well Derek Lowe pitched. How well Pedro pitched. And I’d played with Dave Roberts in
the past – we were teammates in the minor leagues for Cleveland.

BN: He never had a single at-bat in the whole series.

JM: Watching him go to first base, everyone knew he was going to steal in that situation. I don’t remember how many times Rivera threw over; he still went first pitch. Which was not
surprising to me. He was going as soon as he [Rivera] picked up his front leg.
That’s what he does. That was his gig. It was fun to watch.

BN: You grew up in Connecticut. Red Sox fans? Yankees fans?

JM: We grew up Yankee fans. Going to the Stadium. We went to both, though. We rooted for the Yankees more. That’s when I was a kid.  You don’t watch as many baseball games after you start playing a lot more in high school and college. As soon as I was an Indian, I was an Indian. I didn’t have any other allegiances besides the team I was on.

BN: By 2004, when you were watching those games, with the Red Sox down three games to none, did your Yankees background kick in for you or did you start rooting for the underdog?

JM: No, I was just watching. I didn’t….

BN: It’s hard for me to watch a game, even if I don’t know either of the teams playing, without picking someone to root for.

JM: My wife is from Boston so I think it was pretty easy to identify with that team the Sox had. They were fun. Plus I knew some of the guys on the team, too. I was a little more familiar with them. You want to see them get over the hump. You want to see that excitement. After they won that first game, you wanted to see them win the second. They win the second, you want to see them win the third, and after they win the third, you want to see them finish it.

It obviously made for a good story but I’ve got a lot of friends and family up in this area so it was fun to watch and listen to their reactions and their excitement going through it.

Andrew Miller was 20, at the University of North Carolina.

I was at the University of North Carolina. The fall of 2004, I was 20 years old. I didn’t have a rooting interest in any of the teams, really.

BN: You might have cared for one of them, or you might have been a Braves fan or something.

AM: Yeah, I grew up a Braves fan but I assume you’re obviously asking about the ALCS…

BN: Different people have different backgrounds.

AM: I can’t tell you much more than, what, they came back from three down in the LCS, the Red Sox did, and then they ended up winning the World Series, so it was an exciting playoffs even if you didn’t have a rooting interest in a particular team.

BN: We all watch games where we really don’t care that much who might win.

AM: Right, but that’s about all I remember about it.

Will Middlebrooks was 16, at Liberty Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas.

WM: I was a freshman in high school. I remember watching. I always enjoyed watching playoff baseball with my buddies.  I remember it being really fun baseball to watch – high intensity baseball. A lot of intense situations. It was a lot of fun to watch. 

BN: The Red Sox swept in the first round against the Angels when one of your current teammates homered in the 10th inning.

WM: Yeah, David. I remember that. And I remember the Damon grand slam.  I wanted the Red Sox to win. I just wasn’t a Yankees fan. I wasn’t a Yankees hater, by any means, but when I grew up I liked the Rangers and the Red Sox.

BN: Ted Williams from here was the first manager of the Rangers.

WM: That was the team I was able to go watch because I was from there, so I liked them and I liked the Red Sox because of their history.

BN: So you were pulling for the Red Sox against the Cardinals, too.

WM: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Franklin Morales, 18, was in the Rockies system playing in Casper, Wyoming.

FM: Minor league. Casper.

BN: When you were there, did you watch the playoffs or were you already back in Venezuela by that time, in October?

FM: Venezuela.

BN: Did you watch the major leagues?

FM: Yes.

BN: It was Angels against the Red Sox and then David Ortiz won it with a home run here at Fenway, and then it was Red Sox against the Yankees, who won the first three games but then the Red Sox came back and won it. Do you remember that at all?

FM: Yes.

BN: What do you remember about it?

FM: I remember the first three games. I think they’re never coming back. After they won the third game, just let ‘em go.

BN: The third game was 19 runs for the Yankees, but they [Red Sox] came back and won it.

FM: Mm hmmm.

BN: Where were you in Venezuela?

FM: In my house.

BN: What city or area?

FM: Moron. Valencia.

BN: Did you watch with friends or family?

FM: Yeah.

BN: Did you care at that time – Red Sox or Yankees?  Dis it matter to you?

FM: It didn’t matter.

Clayton Mortensen was 19, a student in Oregon at Treasure Valley Community College.

I was in junior college. Treasure Valley Community College. Ontario, Oregon.  

BN: Do you remember those playoffs at all?

CM: Oh, absolutely.

BN: Was there a team you followed more than others?

CN: I’d probably say I was a Cardinals fan. You know, it’s like the Red Sox…it always seemed like…it’s like I didn’t really know much about the Red Sox back then, to be honest with you.  The only reason I was a St. Louis fan is that we have family ties with St. Louis, a family history with St. Louis. That was why I was a little more partial to St. Louis.

BN: Good baseball fans there.

CM: Yeah. They appreciate baseball. If somebody makes a nice play, they’ll give him an ovation even if it’s the other team.

BN: How about in the ALCS? Were you pro-Yankees, anti-Yankees, or indifferent?

CM: Indifferent, though I was always probably a little anti-Yankees because that was like the trend. It was like the Yankees always won. So it was just like no one really liked the Yankees. I couldn’t care less, but I just didn’t like the Yankees because…I just didn’t like the Yankees.

BM: Were you a pitcher at the time?

CM: Oh yeah, always. I was a pitcher, I thought I could hit, but….

Mike Napoli was with Rancho Cucamonga in the Angels system in 2004. He was 23 years of age.

MN: I was in the minor leagues, so I don’t really remember too much from it, but I remember watching it.  It was a great series, to come back like that. It was awesome. Something special, especially for this organization and this town.

Daniel Nava was 21, a student at the College of San Mateo

DN: Junior college. I don’t think I followed it as close as everyone here – because I was out in California.

BN: You might have been an Angels fan.

DN: I was a Giants fan. Obviously, watching sports, I liked seeing the comeback. Something that was unprecedented. I mean that in every sense of the word. But if I could have been in this town while it was going on, it would have been something that held a more significant place in my heart just because I was from the area. For me, I was just “Wow, this is a great story. It’s something I won’t forget.”  David Ortiz is the only one left. It was special. Something when you look back at the great moments in baseball, that one is up there, sure.

Jake Peavy was 15-6 for San Diego in 2004 with a league-leading 2.27 earned run average.

JP: What those boys accomplished, being down, you watch what it means to have your back against the wall and play kind of carefree baseball. When you have nothing to lose, those are dangerous teams.  It was fun for baseball. It was good for Boston, for the city, for the fan base.  It had been too many years.

This team’s goal is to do nothing less than what they did.

BN: I don’t know if you really cared one way or another who won.

JP: Not really. In 2004, we played down to about the last week of the season. A lot of times, I could go one of two ways. Last year leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. We don’t make it and Detroit goes. I didn’t watch too much baseball.

BN: Did you have a team you favored when you were growing up?

JP: The Atlanta Braves were my team.

Dustin Pedroia was in the Red Sox system. He had played with Augusta and Sarasota in the summer of 2004. He was 21.

BN: Where were you during the playoffs in October?

DP: I was in the Fall League, in Arizona.

BN: Watching the games on TV with some of your friends?

DP: Yeah.  Everyone saw the games. It was awesome.  I just thought it was great, the comeback, you know? All the stuff they did was awesome.  

BN: And then you were up here for the next one [2007].

DP: Yeah, we gotta get another one of those, you know.

BN: Maybe this year.

DP: There you go.

David Ross was with the Dodgers in 2004 and played briefly the National League Division Series. He was 27.

BN: You played in that year’s Division Series.

DR: I was with the Dodgers, yeah. Against the Cardinals.

BN: Did you follow the rest of the playoffs that year?

DR: I turned it off at first usually during that period. When you’re first off, you’re mad. But I remember thinking how good the Cardinals were – they were a really good team. A really good team!

BN: Did you care between the Yankees and the Red Sox?

DR: No. I had been in the National League my whole career. I came here in 2008 but I didn’t follow the American League that much, so I was just kind of following the National League and watching those games more than the Yankee/Red Sox stuff.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the Atlanta Braves organization, catching for their Rome, Georgia team at the age of 19.

BN: You played with Rome that year, with the Braves. What do you remember about those playoffs?

JS: I watched it. It was one of those things where they hadn’t won it in...what was it? Eighty…

BN: 86 years.

JS: 86 years. So I mean, it was pretty cool to watch some of the guys you grew up and kind of idolized. It was cool to see them win it, and make history.

BN: You were probably rooting for the Braves in the Division Series.

JS: Yeah, we were going for what, the tenth straight year? I remember watching McCann on TV. And Clemens was pitching for them, so it was cool.

BN: What about after the Braves were out of it, did you care between the Yankees and the Red Sox?

JS: I wanted to see the Red Sox win it because it was cool, but either team…I grew up a Braves fan so it didn’t really bother me either way.

BN: They used to be the Boston Braves once…

JS: Well, there you go!

Brandon Snyder turned 18 the month after the 2004 playoffs were over.

BS: I was a junior in high school. My dad was a Yankees fan. My younger brother – they’re twins – one’s a Yankees fan and one’s a Red Sox fan. At the time, I just kind of sat back and watched them battle it out. It was just one of those all-time greatest moments in baseball where you see a series turn around so quickly. The way they did it, it was just amazing. If you’re going to do it, you might as well make it interesting, right?

After that, it was just a different mentality. We stopped talking about curses and all this other stuff and we started talking about building good organizations to win baseball games.

Junichi Tazawa was 18 years old, in Yokohama.

JT: I was in high school, in Yokohama.

BN: Did you watch the U.S. Major League Baseball playoffs in 2004? 

JN: At that point, it was only the teams that had Japanese players that were on TV. It has changed now, but at that point they weren’t showing the games so I didn’t watch it.  

Taz’s answers were translated from Japanese thanks to C. J. Matsumoto.

Matt Thornton broke into the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners in June 2004 and appeared in 19 games.

MT: I saw a little bit of it. I watch baseball. But it was a long time ago. It was obviously an unbelievable lineup, the kind we have now when at any given time, somebody could hurt you. Manny and Papi at the heart of it. You’d go out there and you had to pitch.

BN: You pitched 1/3 of an inning against the Red Sox that year. You struck out Dave Roberts in a September game.

MT: It was a pitch about four inches off the plate inside but I got the call. It was a ball – no doubt about it. He took it. He was in shock when they called it a strike. I didn’t really have any idea where I was throwing the ball back then. It was an accident. I’m not going to argue with the umpire.

Koji Uehara was 29 years old, pitching for the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants.

I wasn’t watching. Sorry, but I wasn’t watching at that time.

Uehara’s answer was translated from Japanese thanks to C. J. Matsumoto.

Shane Victorino played for Jacksonville and Las Vegas, in the Dodgers system in 2004.  The Flyin’ Hawaiian was 23.

SV: I was in Jacksonville.

BN: Do you have a memory of that year’s postseason?

SV: No, I don’t. Once the season was over, I went home to Hawaii. Especially at that age? I was a young kid.

One thing I do remember – weren’t they down three-oh to the Yankees?  And then coming back. I remember reading about that.  That was special. Any time you’re down 3-0 in a series, whether it be first-round, second-round, third-round, whatever – to come back from down 3-0 – especially against an organization like the Yankees. Then years later, you think that…wow, it’s ten years ago that happened. I would have never thought that.  David’s the only one. I can’t believe that it’s been ten years. That dates all of us.  

Talking to David about that and talking to some of  the clubhouse guys that were here, they talk highly of that run they were on and talk highly of that team. I remember those teams that were her. Look at the chemistry of the guys who were here – the Wakefields, Variteks, Papi, Manny. That was a pretty good team.

BN: Game Three that they lost, the Yankees scored 19 runs.

SV: Did they? I don’t know the full details. To come back from that was impressive, man. Come back down three-oh!  You say, “We’re down 3-0 and they just scored 19 runs.”

BN: Apparently everybody felt real confident.

SV: Well, it showed when they won. That’s great.

Alex Wilson was 17, still in high school at Hurricane, West Virginia.

I was a junior in high school, in [Hurricane] West Virginia in 2004. I actually was a Red Sox fan, a huge Nomar Garciaparra fan. That kind of led me to like the Red Sox. I definitely remember watching the games. I think the biggest thing was them coming back from the 3-0 and everything. That was definitely something to remember.

BN: Had you always been a pitcher? Were you a pitcher in high school?

AW: No, I was a shortstop in high school.

BN: Your interest in Nomar.

AW: I was a shortstop. I wore #5. I pitched some but I was definitely more of a position player.

BN: You were born in Saudi Arabia?

AW: I was. I was only there for about a year, but I’ve lived a little bit everywhere. Born in Arabia, lived in New Orleans, northeast Tennessee to Wes Virginia, went to two different colleges.

BN: Because of your parents’ work?

AW: Yeah, my dad’s a geologist. Oil and gas business.

BN: Being a Red Sox fan in 2004, then, you were happy when they won.

AW: Yeah, I was really happy. I was razzing my buddies that were Yankees fans in the Championship Series and in the World Series everything fell into place.


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