By Tom Darcy
"It hasn't happened at Fenway Park for 95 years. The Red Sox are World Champions"
This call by Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck was met by the jubilation of everyone in the common room of Chandler/Dunster, a townhouse residence hall at Stonehill College.
As the 20 or so students jumped around in excitement of what will go down as one of the greatest worst-to-first stories in sports history, Tom Darcy took a minute to appreciate what he just witnessed. A team, who went 86 years without a world series championship and was believed to be cursed, just won its third title in 10 years. Some die-hard Red Sox fans never witnessed a title during their lifetime, yet Tom just witnessed his third at the young age of 20.
Within the days following the Red Sox win, Tom returned home so he could go into Boston for the championship parade with his parents. As he returned to his room for the first time in weeks, something caught his eye. Tom examined a corkboard that he has on a wall in his bedroom full of pictures, pins and other momentos.
There he saw an old ticket stub from an April 27, 2002 Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This particular game was the second game Tom attended, but the first that he was old enough to remember.
Tom has gone to many games since, but this game meant something more than all of the others. This was the game that transformed a mild interest and hobby into a love for the game of baseball.
Tom had played baseball since he was five years old, and took great pride in his collection of baseball cards, but he didn't watch games the way some of his friends did. When Tom's parents told him that he and two of his friends could go to a Red Sox game for his birthday, he was overcome with excitement.
Tom's birthday is in late March, so the Red Sox regular season had not started yet. When Tom's parents purchased his tickets, they did so thinking that a game in early April will have little importance come seasons end. Thankfully, they were wrong.
As the Darcys approached Fenway Park on the day of that game, Tom was fixated on all the sights and sounds on Yawkey way. People sitting on the sidewalks playing the drums, seemingly endless amounts of people adorned in Red Sox shirts, hats, and jerseys, and lots and lots of hot dog vendors.
The Sox didn't waste much time after centerfielder Ricky Henderson hit a leadoff homerun. As the next batter entered the box, Tom's father came back to the news that he had just missed seeing a homerun. Tom found much humor in this.
The game seemed to go by fast for Tom, who wanted to see his favorite player Nomar Garciaparra get a hit. As the game progressed, Tom paid the most attention of when Nomar would get up again, because he seemed to be the only Sox player who hadn't gotten a hit yet.
It was now the seventh inning stretch, the Red Sox were winning easily, and Tom's friend Paul had a craving for cotton candy. As he scanned the crowd for a hawker, Tom's mom looked at the giant scoreboard on the Green Monster in left field and realized that Red Sox staring pitcher Derek Lowe had yet to give up a hit.
She was soon warned not to say "no-hitter" by the fans in the row in front of them. The prospect of seeing a no-hitter was exciting to Tom, but with six batters remaining, it still seemed unlikely. Meanwhile, a cotton candy hawker caught Paul's attention, but, he had just run out of his product. Paul was upset, but he remained optimistic he would get his cotton candy after the hawker promised he would be right back with more.
The eighth inning came and went and Lowe still had not given up a hit. There was a tangible nervous energy that spread throughout the park at this point, which was hard for Tom and his friends to put into words. Everywhere that they looked people were clenching their Red Sox paraphernalia and had strange look on their faces, as if they were bracing for something hurtful.
Top of the ninth. The first two batters come to the plate and are retired in order, no-hitter still intact. Jason Tyner came to bat, and everyone at Fenway Park stood up and cheered, preparing themselves for what could be. With every pitch came an audible gasp from the crowd. Everyone in Tom's row joined hands trying to control their emotions.
Ground ball to second base. Lowe spins of the mound towards the ball, as the second baseman fields and throws on to first to complete the no-hitter. Lowe spins off the mound, throwing his fist in the air, as catcher Jason Varitek comes and picks him off the ground.
Everyone starts jumping up and down in the stands, elated. Everyone, that is, except Paul, who was slouched in his seat cursing the hawker who broke his promise of cotton candy. After the game, the kids were able to go onto the field and run the bases.
As Tom stepped off the stands and onto the field, he entire body felt like pins and needles. Looking up at the now empty stands, Tom imagined what it must be like to play baseball in front of thousands of fans in such a beautiful stadium. Tom's father leaned over and said they were standing on the same field that some of the greatest baseball players have stood since 1912.
Tom's trip down memory lane was snapped when his mom called up to him and said they were ready to go.
Tom pinned the ticket stub back onto the corkboard with a smile, thinking how funny it was that a single event could launch a semi-obsessive love for something that has lasted to this day.