It's the ALCS, 2003. Game 7, at the Bronx. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound, facing Aaron Boone to begin the bottom of the eleventh inning. Boone, for his entire career, was 3-17 against Wakefield with 5 Ks. The Yankee Stadium crowd is on their feet, anticipating what might be the pitch that sent their boys on to the World Series... or home to watch it on their couches. Wake delivers and...
... the rest is history.
A gut-wrenching loss to the arch-rival Yankees, when the Sox held a 5-2 lead in the 8th inning with Pedro Freaking Martinez on the mound and a bullpen that was just unbelievable throughout that series, was just heartbreaking for the world's biggest freaks: Members of Red Sox Nation. A game that made Sox fans who didn't already believe in the supernatural, start to believe the "Curse of the Bambino." This loss, however, sparked young GM, Theo Epstein, to make necessary moves that had Sox fans looking for a title, not a helluva' season.
That started with firing manager, Grady Little, and replacing him with Athletics' bench coach, Terry Francona. Everybody knew Little was gone after he left Pedro out to dry in the eigth inning, it was just a matter of how long they'd wait to do so. That answer was: not very long at all. Nonetheless, Terry Francona was hired on December 4, becoming the 44th manager in Red Sox history.
Just before the Francona hiring, the Red Sox went out and pursued a man they once had in their organization before trading him to Baltimore in 1988. That man was Curt Schilling. Schilling had a no-trade clause on his contract with the Diamondbacks, but it seemed as though it would be best for those two parties to go their seperate ways. The problem was finding a trade partner for the righty going into his age 37 season.
Schilling had the Red Sox on his list of teams that he could veto a trade to, so it took some excellent marketing skills by the Red Sox front office to woo the righty into wanting to be here. In fact, Schilling said he was given a letter that basically told him he had a chance to make history, and would never be forgotten if that were to happen. And so, on November 28, 2003, the Red Sox sent Brandon Lyon, Casey Fossum, Jorge de la Rosa, and Michael Gross to Arizona for Curt Schilling.
Even though the Sox had a stout pen in the 2003 playoffs, they still felt the need to address that by adding a closer. Their guy was Keith Foulke, a former Oakland Athletic, and player with history with Terry Francona in the dugout (Schilling did too, but he was dealt before Francona was hired). Foulke also had some playoff experience in Oakland, and brought that to the Sox when he arrived. He was signed on December 18, 2003.
Other notable signings include middle infielders Mark Bellhorn and Pokey Reese, making the Sox a wagon up the middle, to go on top of already having Nomar Garciaparra.
The Sox were an absolute juggernaut offensively in 2004, which was able to bail out the starters from time to time. We all know how the story ends. Papi hits the walkoff in game 3 against Anaheim in the ALDS, the backdoor sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS, which, to this day, is still the greatest comeback in the history of professional sports, in my own opinion, and then on October 27, 2004, with Keith Foulke on the mound and future Red Sox, Edgar Renteria at the plate...
... the Red Sox finally brought a World Series title back to the city of Boston for the first time since 1918.