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Huge impact on Boston, say experts
10/28/2004 2:47 AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- It may be awhile before the impact of what happened at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night really sets in. After all, the debate of just where the Red Sox winning the World Series falls into sports history in terms of monumental moments is just now beginning.

But the impact it will have on Beantown? That's a no-brainer. This is huge, perhaps the hugest in Boston history. Just ask Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and ESPN baseball expert Peter Gammons, both of whom were born and raised in nearby Groton, Mass., and have followed Red Sox baseball their entire lives.

"For the city of Boston, I think it's one of the biggest stories in 334 years of Boston history," Shaughnessy said. "There obviously wasn't as much media coverage as the Boston Tea Party or the Revolutionary War, and Kennedy's election was obviously a big deal. But because [the Red Sox winning has] been so anticipated, and with the buildup and the near-misses in the past, the idea that so many people care about it in the region ... it's big. They are sort of a national team."

But it's the intimate generations of Bostonians, and those from the outerlying regions, that bring forth the strongest emotions. Red Sox baseball is not a mere sports team. It's not just a way to pass the time on a lazy Sunday in June. Red Sox baseball is a way of life, and Shaughnessy pinpoints the way it binds people together as the most special in terms of the Red Sox winning.

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"It connects generations, families, people that they haven't heard from in a long time," Shaughnessy said. "The tentacles reach far, and I think because of that, it's the largest story certainly in my lifetime, but based on what I can gather, of any time."

Gammons echoed the sentiment.

"There's so much of a tie between people that are 18, or 59 like me ... just generations of people," Gammons said. "No other area in the country do you grow up with 150 years of baseball. The last two innings of that Yankee game [in the LCS] had an 88 share [in the TV ratings] in Boston.

"People talk about, 'What will people do now?' Well, it's simple: This will be like the happiest winter of all time."

"Instead of people complaining how they'd lose this year, they'll be celebrating that they didn't," Shaughnessy surmised.

Even if people aren't necessarily Boston fans, the Red Sox were certainly an easy team to root for. They were the consummate underdogs, always losing to the Yankees, whether it was a regular-season game or the ALCS. Shaughnessy compared the Sox to the lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs, as having a loyal and widespread following.

"A lot of that has to do with transplants around the country," he said. "We have so many schools in Boston. People come to school there, they leave and they retain this love for the Red Sox, caring about them. They're everywhere. I think if the Cubs got this close, it would probably be the same sort of thing. But they haven't."

And the Red Sox have. For Shaughnessy, the profession of sports writing has long removed him from the fandom that he experienced through his childhood. But he still appreciates the Red Sox for being a great story and is, in a way, somewhat sad that the curse has been lifted.

"I'm going to miss it a little bit now that they've won," he said. "They're not going to be quite as interesting. The quest is really what makes the story extra special."

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