When the Boston Red Sox fell behind 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS to the New York Yankees, many fans thought the series was over.
However, Ryan Collins, the Founder, and Owner of Cruel Fan Sports, relied on a “gut feeling” to keep his hope of witnessing history alive. What happened next led Collins to declare that series his favorite moment in the rivalry between Boston and New York.
The last time the Red Sox had won a World Series title before 2004 was in 1918. They have suffered a series of heartbreaking playoff defeats, including a walk-off home run by Yankees’ third baseman Aaron Boone in the 11th inning of game seven of the ALCS one year earlier.
“My best friend and I would call each other during big games and just stay on speakerphone throughout big playoff games,” said Collins. “Thinking every year was our year. I think when that happened, we both just went completely silent and one of us hung up the phone. But the worst part was walking into school the next day and knowing that happened and dealing with all the ‘Yankee fans.’”
Fast-forwarding to game four of the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox had just come off being blown out 19-8 at Fenway Park and being pushed to the brink of elimination and now were facing the task of coming back against Yankees closer Marino Rivera down 4-3 in the 9th inning.
During the game four broadcast, Play-by-Play Announcer Joe Buck stated that Rivera was 6 for 6 in save opportunities against the Red Sox in the postseason entering game four.
First baseman Kevin Millar led off the 9th inning with a five-pitch walk and was promptly lifted for pinch hitter Dave Roberts. After three pickoff attempts by Rivera, Roberts barely swiped second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Three pitches later, Bill Mueller grounded a game-tying RBI single into center field, scoring Roberts without a throw.
“I think everybody knew why he was in the game, but It somehow still felt surprising,” said Collins. “It was an amazing moment and probably one of the most influential base steals of all time.”
The game would head to extra innings before DH David Ortiz ended the game with a walk-off home run in the 12th inning to keep the Red Sox season alive. He would follow it up with a walk-off bloop RBI single one night later to send the series back to New York.
“Ortiz’s pop off the bat and swing was always just so fun to watch. Always clutch and always powerful,” said Collins. “The list of his clutch performances are unmatched in baseball history.”
The Red Sox would proceed to outscore the Yankees 14-5 in the final two games, to become the only team in MLB history to win a series after falling into a 3-0 hole. Ortiz won ALCS MVP honors with a .387 batting average, three home runs, and 11 RBIs.
The Red Sox would end their 86-year World Series drought by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Since 2004, the Red Sox have won four World Series titles (2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018) to the Yankees one (2009).
The two teams are set to renew their rivalry, as the Red Sox open their season at Yankee Stadium with a three-game series starting April 7th. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm EST.
You can relive the Red Sox 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series titles in Bob Halloran’s Count the Rings!: Inside Boston’s Wicked Awesome Reign as the City of Champions book available on Amazon and Barnes Nobles.
Additionally, you can learn more about Halloran’s sports journalism by reading the Documenting an NFL Dynasty with Bob Halloran story located on the EMASS Sports homepage.