I’ll never forget this game for as long as I live.
I’m a Red Sox season ticket holder, but we have a few guys in on the tickets, so we draft them out before each season. That year in 2006, I got the first pick. I took the May 1 game, because it was Johnny Damon’s first game back to Fenway Park after signing a 4-year, $52 million deal with the New York Yankees. I actually cheered him. I wasn’t one of those guys who booed Damon for signing with the Yankees, because the Red Sox handled his free agency quite poorly, and I couldn’t blame him for taking the best offer. Also, Damon played his ass off in a Red Sox uniform, and was a big reason why Boston won their first World Series title in 86 years. I could never boo one of the ’04 guys no matter what they did.
That being said, I still wanted to be there. That was the tail end of the most recent installment of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, and I wanted to take in the atmosphere, and also show my appreciation for Damon’s time here in Boston. Little did I know that there would be a moment during that game that would ultimately become more memorable than Damon’s return to Fenway Park for the first time as a Yankee.
I always knew that the events leading up to Doug Mirabelli returning to the Red Sox via police escort just minutes before first pitch must’ve been a crazy story. But to hear it all in detail from the people who lived it just makes it that much more insane and icredibly hilarious. All this for a backup knuckleball catcher. It was awesome.
Tim Healey wrote an excellent piece for the Hardball Times on Friday, and it had even more hilarious details about the trade that brought Mirabelli back to Boston. It’s well worth the entire read, but here’s my favorite part:
Epstein: I was going to call the players involved. I went into my phone, J-o-s-h. J-o-s-h B. I was going to call Josh Bard and tell him he was traded — which is never a fun call to make. So I called him, I clearly woke Josh up. I said, “Hey man, it’s Theo. This is a tough call to make, but we made a trade and I have to let you know that you’re in it.” And he goes, “Really?!” I said, “Yeah, we felt like we needed to get somebody in here who has experience catching Wakefield.” He goes, “Theo, Theo, Theo. This is Josh Beckett. You sure you traded me?” I called the wrong Josh B. in my phone.
Also, I would be doing a great disservice to you all if I didn’t link to the legendary Dougie’s Goin’ Deep Tonight post from 2004.