The Idiots bring some cheer to Fenway
The duck boats were back at Fenway Park again on Tuesday night, this time lugging around those beloved “Idiots” of 2004, who snapped Boston’s 86-year World Series championship drought.
There were three duck boats, filled with coaches and players from that memorable team. Terry Francona, Dave Wallace, Lynn Jones, Brad Mills and Ron Jackson represented the coaching staff. Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke and Jason Varitek were among the many players on hand.
Millar, Pedro and Foulke held court with the media for a very light-hearted press conference that instantly reminded one how much fun those teams were to be around.
What sticks with these guys eight years later?
“It was a great thing,” Foulke said. “We didn’t really know what we were getting into. I don’t think we did. To do what we did, that team, after the story behind 86 years in this city, it’s the greatest thing ever.”
Martinez: “The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the last out, knowing that we got rid of the burden on every player that passed through the organization. It was a moment of relief for everyone that played the game in Boston. That’s probably the biggest one — just getting that last out. I kept thinking about getting that last out, and when he finally flipped that ball and they called him out, that was it.”
Millar, in a stunner, was the most expansive of the three: “You know what it is? Like Foulkie said, you didn’t realize what you were getting into. But the truth of the matter is that group of guys, the family — it wasn’t just a team. It was a unit that literally hung out together and ate together and liked each other. That doesn’t go on. You can’t buy that. That was the one thing about that that I remember is that we all went to different teams, we all played on different teams, Foulkie went to Oakland, Pedro played with the Mets, but that one group that we had, we had so many different guys from Billy Mueller to Trot Nixon to Pedro Martinez to crazy Manny Ramirez to Keith Foulke, who had every coolest car in the world and cool little gadget thing to Fake Cowboy Millar to David Ortiz. The group, it was a group. That was the one thing, coming back now and seeing everything, you remember the tightness. We weren’t the best players. We had a few superstars in Pedro and Manny, but we were the best unit, if that makes sense.”
So that chemistry stuff was not overrated when it came to the ’04 Red Sox. Millar could not overstate that enough.
“You hear that a lot, ‘What’s chemistry? If you don’t have players, you don’t have chemistry.’ Bull, bull, bullllll, bull, OK? You’ve got to pull for each other. You’re not fooling us. We can fool you guys. You can say the right thing, and we know a few of the teams out there that say the right thing in front of the cameras. But you can’t fool your teammates. If someone is pulling against Keith Foulke because he wants to be the closer and doesn’t know his role, you feel that. If someone is pulling against Pedro Martinez because he wants to be the guy, you feel that. We pulled for each other. That was what was cool.”
Was there a point the players sensed this uncanny chemistry?
“It’s one of those things you don’t sense,” Foulke said. “It’s there. Probably when you look at it now, looking back, that’s when you understand what it was. Like Kev said, we were buddies. When your buddy goes out there, if Johnny is running into a wall or whatever, you want to work harder to make sure that effort doesn’t go for naught. We’re a family. You go to battle with your brothers.”
“We had a lot of team dinners,” Pedro said. “A lot of them. We used to go out all of us together. Six in one pack, six in the other pack. ‘Where you going to be? We’ll be in this place. We’re having dinner in this place.’ But we were all in the same place at the same time.”
How hard would it have been for Martinez to have left Boston without the World Series championship?
“I would probably retire right after then,” he said. “I would have been so disappointed that I came in here with a purpose, and that was the purpose. I’ll probably say that I was the only player out of all the players that felt like he had something to achieve for this team. I was called in to build the team around me as the ace of the team. It took me until the last year to actually finally get it, but I could easily say, ‘Mission accomplished.’ I’ve actually been to the Green Monster many times. This is the first time I’m actually going to express this. After I got in, everybody normally has the history of signing the Green Monster. I refused to until I won it for Boston. I keep forgetting — every time I come back I keep forgetting — but now I feel like I can sign it, and leave my name in the Green Monster. I haven’t signed it yet.”