REVERSING THE CURSE,
& TEK COME TO TOWN
The Sox clinch
a playoff spot behind Pedro
September 24, 1998 ... On
the night the Red Sox captured the American League wild card with a
9-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park, batting practice
never ended for the Red Sox, not on a clinching night when they won
their 90th game and collected 18 hits, including two home runs by
Nomar Garciaparra, who scored four times; three hits by Mo Vaughn,
who regained a razor-thin lead in the AL batting race; and four hits
by catcher Scott Hatteberg, all of which took the sting out of the
three home runs allowed by winning pitcher Pedro Martinez.
the handshakes, the smiles, and even the tears shed by Leroy Vaughn, father of
the first baseman, had no labels. But the new caps modeled by everyone in the
clubhouse, from Midre Cummings, the man who was released twice by other clubs in
spring training; to Mike Stanley, the recycled Red Sox DH; to Dennis Eckersley,
baseball's 2,000-year-old man, who tied Hoyt Wilhelm's major league record with
his 1,070th career pitching appearance, told the story. The caps didn't just
have a red "B." There was a wild card tucked on top.
the man who put this team together, walked into the office of manager Jimy
Williams after first passing under a champagne sprinkler. The two men embraced.
been a red October in these parts since 1995, when the Sox won the AL East and
were eliminated by the Cleveland Indians in three straight games. The
best-of-five first round of the playoffs opens Tuesday, probably in Cleveland,
though if the Indians and Rangers should finish the season tied, the Sox will be
headed to Texas instead.
night, the Sox cared little about whom they will be playing. This was a night to
celebrate that they'll be playing at all in October. When the last out was
recorded, Vaughn and Valentin converged from opposite corners of the diamond,
met on the mound, and wrapped each other in joyful embrace, even as Gordon