This story was updated at 1:30 1/26/14 to correct first name of the man in charge of special events for the Red Sox.
George Sawyer and his 10-year-old son, Payson, stood in the cold at Hadlock Field for 90 minutes so they could spend about 90 seconds with three Red Sox World Series trophies. They couldn’t touch them but were photographed with the 2013 trophy. They couldn’t linger. Move along, please.
The Sawyers didn’t mind. They got what they wanted: another Red Sox memory.
The line snaked from behind the first-base grandstand through the main concourse, out the main entrance behind home plate to the parking lot behind the left-field grandstand. A seemingly never-ending line standing in temperatures that hovered around the freezing mark.
Three months after the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, the trophy tour came to Maine on Saturday for the first of several appearances, starting with a three-hour showing at Hadlock Field in Portland.
No player accompanied the hardware. David Ortiz was not sitting next to the trophy in the Portland room for your camera. Neither was Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester nor Xander Bogaerts, the most recent Portland Sea Dogs graduate. Instead, former U.S. senator George Mitchell, a Red Sox senior adviser, spoke and shook stands. So did Dr. Charles Steinberg, the man in charge of special events for the team. Dick Flavin, one of the Fenway Park voices who announces the starting lineup, quoted some of his own poetry: “They hustled, they bustled, they played hard, they gave. In fact, they did everything but shave.”
The crowd at the casual rally in the plaza outside the ballpark laughed. At the same time they were eager to get in line for the trophies. Their numbers swelled during much of the three hours, surprising Sea Dogs personnel. This was the third trophy in 10 years for the Red Sox. The 86-year-old curse was broken in 2004. Then came the World Series win in 2007. So what was so novel about a third in 2013? Over about 21/2 hours, Sea Dogs personnel counted 70 to 100 fans every half-hour getting their photos snapped with the trophy.
Maybe Saturday was the antidote to last Sunday’s headache, when the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos.
“It was worth (the wait),” said Sawyer. The father and son from Gray got in line at 11:18 a.m. (he checked his cell phone for the call he made) and got their photo at 12:43 p.m. They wore matching grins. “You know, between the Red Sox and the Patriots and the Bruins and the Celtics making the playoffs and winning championships, we’re so spoiled around here.”
But not nonchalant. “After 1918, fans thought the Red Sox would keep going to the World Series and winning,” said George Nanos of Portland. “I’m not waiting for another curse.”
That’s why he joined the end of the line in the parking lot. He ignored the gray sky and a cold, raw wind that whipped at times. These fans created their own warmth. They swapped stories about the 2013 season. How the run to the World Series took them by surprise. How much they liked the players on this team. How outsiders didn’t give their team much of a chance against the Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff in the playoffs.
How they had the last laugh, even as their teeth chattered from the cold.
Megan and Mike Akers of Portland brought their sons, Jamie, 7, and Archer, 6. Maureen and Skip Welton of Biddeford brought their grandson, Gavin, 10. Up and down the line you saw generations of families together. Baseball, perhaps more than other sports, is about oral history and memories. From Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to Jackie Bradley Jr.
“It’s a game of connections,” said Steinberg, who organized the poignant tribute at Fenway Park to Ted Williams when Williams died in 2002, and more recently, the Red Sox response to the Boston Marathon bombings. “In New England, winning the World Series is so deeply personal. You remember how you felt when the Red Sox won, who you were with, what you were doing. I’ve been overwhelmed by the fans when I come to Maine with the trophies.”
The celebration tour didn’t include the 2004 and 2007 trophies. Then the idea of all three together popped. “To have Diana Ross to be joined by The Supremes is even more special,” said Steinberg, evoking the name of the 1970s Motown queen and her supporting singers.
He wore the oversized World Series rings from 2004 and 2007 on each hand. He slips them off frequently to let fans put them on their own fingers. He never tires of watching eyes widen as they do.
The Red Sox are World Series champions. The idea, the words and the reality don’t get old.
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: