Steve Wilstein The world has unalterably changed for Red Sox Nation.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
One of the most extraordinary championship runs in sports history made believers out of even hardened pessimists.
An astounding confluence of events, from the field to the moon to the record books, turned generations of dreams into a reality that seemed like fantasy.
The way Boston Red Sox fans look at their team and their lives shifted. No longer must they feel fated to lose. No longer must they endure legends about a curse.
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Say it again and again until it sinks in: The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
It was a triumph every bit as exhilarating and surprising as the Miracle Mets of 1969. These Red Sox, three outs away from being swept by the New York Yankees in the American League championship series, utterly wore out their sleep-deprived fans before rewarding them Wednesday night.
They ended 86 years of frustration. A wild card in the playoffs, they became the first major league team to come back and win from an 0-3 deficit, turning a trick that eluded 25 others in that dire circumstance, then swept the St. Louis Cardinals the winningest team in the majors this year.
Cosmic coincidence or omen, they did it on a night when a lunar eclipse turned the moon pinkish red, not unlike the blood stain on Curt Schilling's sock in Game 2.
''I'm not used to living without the specter of doom,'' said Lorri Berenberg, owner of an art gallery in Boston.
Her 83-year-old father, Dr. Arnold Berenberg, believed even through the late innings of Game 4 that the Red Sox would find a way to lose because he's seen them lose so many times in so many ways.
''I don't think we'll know what to do,'' said Stephanie Koufman, 43, of Somerville, Mass. ''We've been so used to disappointment.''
Gene Stamell, a teacher and songwriter who got radio airtime last year when he lampooned the Red Sox after their flop in the playoffs, is stuck thinking about how to reconcile victory with his normally gloomy expectations.
''The soul of Boston is to complain about how we should have won,'' he said. ''Now you have to believe that good things can happen. We're a little less Calvinistic.''
Aged fans waited their whole lives for this night.
''We know people who are 90 years old who have said: 'Just one championship before I die,''' Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner said.
Now they can be at peace.
Bill Ryan, a Boston computer consultant who saw his first Red Sox game at age 8 in the 1950s, said it will take time for fans to adjust to winning.
''When you lose, you can always talk about 'What if? What if?''' Ryan said at a bar in the Quincy Market. ''That makes for a good intellectual conversation. You don't have that when you win. I'm not sure what we're going to talk about now.''
Ryan said his parents had been fans and the wisdom they shared was: ''Disappointment gives you character.''
Paul Donahue, a 44-year-old Xerox manager from Boston, who watched the game outside the ''Cheers'' bar at Quincy Market, also pondered the new status of the Red Sox.
''What do you do?'' Donahue wondered. ''You're used to being an also-ran every year.''
Kyle Paice, 20, of Natick, called it an exciting moment for his family.
''There's three generations of men in my family,'' he said. ''My father, my grandfather and myself. My grandfather is 78 years old and he hasn't seen a World Series champion until now.
''I feel like I haven't lived long enough to pay my dues as a Red Sox fan.''
With the score 3-0 in the sixth inning, Nick Charos, a 25-year-old Boston accountant, watched the game nervously outside the Cheers bar.
He learned early on not to become overconfident. He saw his first game in 1986, when the Red Sox led three games to one and were one strike away from winning the World Series and lost.
''They could be winning 20-0 and I wouldn't be confident until the last out,'' he said. His skepticism ebbed this year as he watched the Red Sox win with ''all the right players in the right places.''
But he worries about next year.
''They've got a lot of free agents,'' he said. ''I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime team.''
Red Sox Nation reaches around the globe. In Chicago, fans who have suffered as deeply for generations with the Cubs and White Sox adopted the Red Sox this year.
''People in Chicago feel such an affinity with the Red Sox,'' said Joe Urwitz, 24, a University of Chicago Law School student who also has rooted for Boston since his undergrad days at Williams College in Massachusetts.
''It's going to be eerie for Red Sox fans, not having a team to complain about. This makes it worse for Cubs fans. Now they're the only team that's cursed.''
Steve Wilstein is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com.
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