Saturday, May 06, 2006

Millar's Tale

One of the things I love about baseball is some of the characters who inhabit the game. Growing up, I remember the stories about Bernie Carbo and the stuffed monkey he carried around with him. Of Bill Lee and his many semi-illegal activities. Wade Boggs and all the crazy rituals he went through before every game (they didn't call him "chicken man" for nothing!)

But my favorite character in recent years is Kevin Millar. He was the one who really captured my heart during the 2003 season - he was one of the reasons I started following the Sox again. Sure, Johhny Demon - er, Damon - was the face of the franchise for a while. But Kevin was the voice. He was always the loudest in the clubhouse - you could often hear his voice during those NESN "locker room uncut" segments post-game. He was the go-to guy for interviews when Pedro or Manny were "unavailable." Who can forget his euphoric rampage down Yawkey Way (in full uni) after the Sox captured the 2003 Wild Card slot - at one point, he was pulling beers behind the bar at a local tavern!

But I think the biggest thing he did was instill confidence in the team before game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. Down 0-3, Kevin was the one rallying the troops. "Don't let us win tonight" he cautioned - because that will start the steamroller. And he was right. We won game 4. Pedro pitched game 5 - Schilling and the bloody sock in game 6 - and now it's tied. Derek Lowe in game 7...And the rest is history. And it was Millar there the whole time, cheerleader, loud-mouth - and one of the most endearing figures in recent club history.

I was so glad of the reception he got last night. A wonderful standing ovation - followed by boos when he got a hit! A salute to the past - and now on to the present!


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