The Red Sox will, because the entrance workplace likes to say, try to show the web page in 2024. How that may go is, as 2000s musician Natasha Bedingfield sings, nonetheless unwritten.
However, the Red Sox may even flip again a number of chapters – 20 to be exact – to have fun the anniversary of their historic 2004 season, the primary in 86 years to culminate in a championship.
While the Red Sox have stored nearly all specs – dates, occasions, attendees – below wraps, April 9 guarantees to be an emotional day. Chairman Tom Werner made it some extent to say the date at Winter Weekend. By some coincidence, the house opener falls on 4/9 this 12 months. As in 49, the quantity Tim Wakefield wore for his complete 19-year profession, together with the final 17 seasons on the ’95-11 Red Sox.
The 2024 schedule had already been set when Wakefield handed away all of the sudden on the ultimate day of the ’23 season. He’d been identified with mind most cancers solely months earlier, and his situation solely made public – in opposition to his needs – the week earlier than.
A dedicated philanthropist and devoted member of the group as a participant and broadcaster, Wakefield stays beloved in Boston. It’s particularly unfair, nearly merciless that Boston is about to spend a 12 months reminiscing about and feting the ’04 crew, when he can’t be amongst them. Several of his teammates really feel unprepared for what’s to return, Derek Lowe and Kevin Millar advised the Herald in January. For many, his loss of life nonetheless doesn’t really feel actual.
“It’s always gonna be tough,” Lowe stated, earlier than taking part in an annual charity golf match that he and Wakefield used to attend collectively.
“First time I’ve had to deal with losing a teammate,” added Millar. “But this was like a family member, obviously. … We were a unique team as far as the brotherhood that we had. Besides winning a World Series, I think, you know, the nucleus of us are all in touch … no matter what, you’re family for life.”
Lowe and Wakefield turned teammates in ’97, when the Seattle Mariners traded the rookie Lowe and a catching prospect named Jason Varitek to the Red Sox in alternate for Heathcliff Slocumb. Lowe and Millar, nonetheless, have been solely teammates for 2 seasons. Of course, they have been ’03 and ’04, arguably some of the pivotal stretches in franchise historical past.
The ’04 crew gained the membership’s first World Series since 1918. In order to take action, they needed to overcome the Yankees, who’d taken a 3-0 lead within the penultimate spherical. As the one who surrendered the walk-off dwelling run to Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the ALCS the 12 months earlier than, had Wakefield suffered a singular sort of ache. But of their ’04, he was instrumental in Boston’s historic upset of their most hated rivals, the final word revenge and redemption.
No crew had ever come again from such a deficit to win a best-of-seven sequence earlier than, to say nothing of the championship drought that had been hanging over Boston’s head for 86 years. That’s the sort of gauntlet run that bonds individuals for all times. However, in line with Millar, they didn’t succeed the place earlier Red Sox groups had failed as a result of they have been essentially the most proficient; they have been merely the suitable group of individuals, coming collectively on the proper time.
“We were not the best players, we were the best team,” he stated.
However, Millar’s fondest reminiscence of Wakefield has nothing to do with baseball.
“People talk about his knuckleball and his 75 mph fastball, but I’m gonna tell you, he was a great guitar player,” Millar recalled. “He would play me guitar in my room during my 1-for-20s, when I was trying to get lucky, to get a hit. Wakefield was a tremendous guitar player. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica. I remember him sitting on my dresser, we would put a little dip in, and basically, he would play guitar.”
“And those were the days and the times that you miss,” he continued. “It’s not so much the groundball to shortstop or the pop-up to the pitcher, but you miss that camaraderie, and that boys club that you had and that brotherhood. I want everybody to know that this dude, he could’ve played in a band if he wanted to, but he chose to throw knuckleballs for 25 years.”
“He was a tremendous teammate,” Lowe stated. “A great ambassador for the Red Sox, he’s sorely missed … we’d always laugh together. He’d sit there with his nerdy glasses and talk to everybody. He truly was a good friend, he really cared.”
No one’s fairly positive how the Red Sox will have fun the twentieth anniversary of the season that modified the whole lot. There might be hugs, tears, laughter, heartache, and doubtless some ingesting. Jack Daniels, if Millar has something to say about it.
“Some Jack Daniels drank, and just some hugs, and a lot of gray hairs,” he stated with a chuckle.
“I imagine we’ll all get together at some point in Fenway and reminisce,” stated Lowe, with the voice of somebody already reminiscing. “Boy, does time fly by. I can remember so much about that series, and it’s 20 years ago.”
They know nothing will convey their teammate again, both, however they know precisely methods to honor him.
“Live every day like it’s our last,” Millar stated, “and be thankful for the time that we had and the memories that we have forever.”