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A party like none other in Boston
10/28/2004 4:03 AM ET
BOSTON -- At 11:40 p.m. ET, Boston won the World Series and lost its cool.

As Doug Mientkiewicz clutched the final out in St. Louis and thrust his arms into the air, so simultaneously did hundreds of young fans 1,195 miles away in Kenmore Square.

"86 years!"

"Parade on Friday!"

"Yankees [bleep]!"

So spite obviously is next to ecstasy for long-suffering fans of the long-suffering Red Sox, both of whom finished burying decades of ache on Wednesday night with the last of eight consecutive stunning victories in October.

"This isn't for me," said Ben Zani, 21. "This is for my 72-year-old grandmother who can't walk, but the Sox keep her going. Three hours a day, she listens to the Red Sox and she isn't in pain."

"I knew this was the spot to be," said John Olmsted, 59. "I've suffered with them for 50 years. I can't believe this. The last week has been a blur. It'll take a while to get accustomed to the fact they actually did it."

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Across generations and across New England, they congregated in the shadow of Fenway Park, drawn by unseen forces to this mecca of their fondest dreams and deepest sorrows.

The taverns on Commonwealth, Brookline and Boylston spilled over as the Sox built, then protected, their 3-0 lead over the Cardinals.

As the game went into the late innings, Boston police mobilized an imposing show of force to prevent a recurrence of the disturbance that led to a fatality in the aftermath of the ALCS victory over the Yankees.

All the streets bordering Fenway Park were secured. Flanks of armored members of the Public Order Patrol marched down streets and set up strategic human barricades at intersections.

Most of the early-arriving fans, predominantly students from nearby universities, treated the occasion as a photo-op. Those camera cell phones were getting a brisk workout.

"What's this, Star Wars?" wondered a wide-eyed girl as she surveyed the black-clad patrolmen.

From a temporary command post set up alongside his police SUV, a commander kept his eye on the big-screen television visible through the third-story apartment window above him.

"Man, they didn't score," said the officer as Orlando Cabrera struck out to end the eighth, spoiling a bases-loaded, none-out opportunity.

So you're a Red Sox fan, like everyone on the other side of your barricades? The officer, who declined to give his name, nodded.

Still, you probably wouldn't mind if the Sox lost, keeping the night quiet?

"No. Let 'em win," he said. "If not tonight, it'll be tomorrow. It's inevitable. Let's just get it over with."

As the game went to the bottom of the eighth inning, shouts of "Let's go Red Sox!" rained down from the windows of nearby apartment buildings, answered below by raised arms and yells of, "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!"

The surrounding highways were totally barren of cars, the city beyond Kenmore Square clearly glued to its television sets.

Zani, a student at Stetson University in Florida, drove 22 non-stop hours to make the scene.

"I wasn't going to miss this," Zani said. "I've been disappointed so many times in my life, I can't believe it's happening now. If we win this game, I won't know what to do with the rest of my life."

Dan Simoes, a 22-year-old student from Boston College, refused to acknowledge what by now seemed inevitable.

"I've learned to always expect bad things to happen to us," he said. "Until the last pitch, I won't believe.

"It's been tough watching these games," Simoes added, referring to the Red Sox's gripping postseason run. "We're having mid-terms. It's meant a lot of all-night studies, and probably cost me 10 points on each test. But it's been worth it."

"This isn't for me. This is for my
72-year-old grandmother who can't walk, but the Sox keep her going. Three hours a day, she listens to the Red Sox and she isn't in pain."
-- Red Sox fan
Ben Zani

An 86-year wait reached the bottom of the ninth.

"Three more outs to go to history!"

John Olmsted recalled, as a much younger man, being drawn to Harvard Square on the 1974 day Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.

"That was a real event. I knew this would be the same," he said. "I've always been pessimistic, but I think this was meant to be. I suffered through 1967 and 1975 and 1986 ... I can't believe this is really happening."

"One out away! Parade on Friday!"

Then Edgar Renteria hit his comebacker to Keith Foulke, Mientkiewicz clutched the throw to first ... and the party was on.

Within minutes, amazingly, the Kenmore Square hundreds swelled into thousands. Kept away from Fenway Park by the police lines, the crowd filled Boylston sidewalk-to-sidewalk, 20 wide and hundreds deep.

And off in the distance, hundreds more made their way to the mosh pit of a blowout that was just gaining steam.

In the middle of the mob, some kids sprayed champagne, mimicking the festivities in the Red Sox's Busch Stadium clubhouse. Girls received rides on the shoulders of guys. Strangers high-fived.

"Who's your daddy?!"

At a safe distance, Olmsted nodded approvingly. "It's great to see all these young people involved."

Finally convinced, Simoes said, "I won't know what to do tomorrow. This is ridiculous."

As in, fabulous, improbable, pinch-me-to-see-if-I'm-dreaming.

Beyond Kenmore Square, Boston was quickly becoming gridlocked. Cars filled intersections, their drivers deliriously honking horns. The highways filled up with red brake lights, their horns also blaring.

Miles from the center of the celebration, people milled in the streets, pounding on car roofs, triggering air horns, joining in relentless choruses of "Let's go Sox!"

At a gridlocked intersection, a young man stuck his head inside the open window of a cab and implored the driver, "Turn the music up! You aren't going anywhere for a while. Turn it up!"

But the cab eventually did make its way through the crowds of revelers, and soon was in the quieter suburbs.

"If your relatives die, there's a sure way now to make sure they go to heaven," the driver said. "Just bury them in Red Sox, and they'll go to heaven."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.