(Host) Vermont Red Sox fans joined others around the region Thursday evening to celebrate the team’s historic victory over New York in the American League Championship Series.
Last night, as the innings ticked by, VPR’s Steve Zind toured one little corner of the Red Sox Nation and visited with loyal fans.
(Zind) It’s just after 7 at the Pour House in South Burlington. Already the place is packed with fans waiting for the game to begin more than an hour from now. Mickey Auclair is looking up at a huge TV screen on the wall. She’s wearing a Red Sox jersey.
(Zind) “How much sleep have you had in the last four or five days?”
(Auclair) “Not much, I’ve been up watching every single game, I haven’t missed any.”
(Zind) The game begins and right away Red Sox fans have something to cheer about. Halfway through the first inning, they’ve scored two runs. Scott McClellan’s team is ahead, but he isn’t celebrating yet. In his Cowboy Up shirt and Red Sox hat, he’s glued to his stool, wringing his hands.
(McClellan) “I don’t want to get to excited right now. I’ve seen it before. Last year. I hope they can make some history tonight. I don’t want to work tomorrow if they lose. If they win – I told my boss this morning if they win I’ll be in early, if they lose I won’t be in at all.”
(Zind) I head south to Waterbury. The sandwich board on the sidewalk outside Waterbury Wings Restaurant and Bar says “Look. Hot Wings. Red Sox tonight.”
It’s almost as quiet in here as it is at Yankee Stadium where the Red Sox have widened their lead. But the margin still isn’t enough for John Morse to be comfortable.
(Zind) “With a 6-1 lead, you’ve still got this nagging feeling?”
(Morse) “It’s a lot more than a nagging, it’s a clawing. It’s a shoulder pain, it’s a head pain, it’s the back, the feet are hurting. They need to be up eight runs to feel comfortable because the Yankees can hit six runs in an inning, no problem.”
(Zind) As I leave Waterbury Wings, the Red Sox widen their margin. By the time I get to McGillicudy’s Bar in Montpelier the score is Red Sox 8, Yankees 1. The place is packed and the Red Sox faithful are in great form: cheering for every strikeout as the game passes the halfway mark. They even cheer the instant replays.
At the seventh inning stretch, they sing along with God Bless America. They sing, but they don’t stretch. Karen Hinkel says when you’re a Red Sox fan, you can’t relax.
(Hinkel) “We came two hours early just to get a seat. I’m pretty tense actually.”
(Zind)”But they’re ahead 8 to 1.”
(Zind) “But you never know.”
(Zind) Down the bar, Dick Kemp is relaxed. He exudes Yankee fan confidence.
(Kemp) “It’s not over yet. History’s on our side.”
(Zind) One veteran Red Sox fan who would rather not give her name stands a little apart from the crowd, watching a television in the corner of the room. She’s waited a long time for this moment.
(Fan) “Long time – 76 years.”
(Zind) “Was there any point when you wanted to stop being a Red Sox fan?”
(Fan) “No, never!”
(Zind) As the game nears the end, she moves toward the door.
(Fan) “I wanted to be close to the door. Because this is really going to be a very explosive kind of audience.”
(Zind) And explode they do when the final out comes. For fans like Ray Micus, the hard fought victory is a turning point in Red Sox history; the end of a long era when the Red Sox were always the underdog.
(Micus) “Yeah, we’re going to miss that a little bit, but it’s nice to be on top for once, I say. Yeah, we have a good feeling now.”
(Zind) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.