Lucky Sox fans get their Series rings
Nine pick up jewelry, while 10th raffle winner receives a Volvo
BOSTON -- There are certain days when words aren't the easiest way to express excitement. Saturday at Fenway Park was one of those outings for 10 lucky New Englanders who made a special pregame appearance before the Red Sox and Yankees matchup.
It was that particular crew that redeemed its 2008 Red Sox Foundation charitable ring raffle prizes at the ballpark. The first nine winners picked in the July 11 raffle number selection took home an authentic 2007 World Series ring, equipped with the individual's name etched on the piece of jewelry.
The 10th received a Red Sox Special Edition Volvo C30. The lucky 10 received their prizes from team principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Larry Lucchino.
The recipients each had a different story as to when they found out about the prize, but all of them had the same reaction.
"I was out mowing my lawn at about 9:15," said National Guardsman and military technician Richard Ward. "My wife said the Red Sox were on the phone, and I said, 'Yeah, right.' But then I remembered the raffle, and I bought two tickets. I was in shock."
Daniel Begin, another member of the National Guard, said his excitement was much larger than the confines of an airplane that he was in.
"I was on a plane in the Atlanta airport," Begin said. "I got a message from my dad that said, 'Call the Red Sox right away.' And I did, right off the bat. We were still taxiing in. I couldn't contain my enthusiasm on board the plane with 150 other people."
Ward and Begin, both from Massachusetts, were among eight picked from within the state lines. They were on the field with Michele Twohig, Jim Warren, Eric Clemson, Lawrence Iarossi, Daniel Strasshofer and Jay Burke.
The Massachusetts eight, along with Windham, N.H., native Vickie Lanza, were awarded the rings. Linda Brennan of Montpelier, Vt., was the recipient of the Volvo.
The raffle was the second time since 2004 that the Red Sox have allowed a select few to win their own authentic World Series ring. This particular raffle sold more than 135,000 tickets, and it raised more than $1.35 million for the Red Sox Foundation, which is the first team charity in Major League history to raffle off championship rings for a charitable auction.
"When you think of the rarity of championship rings -- and a car that commemorates that championship -- Red Sox fans must be elated at the chance to won something of historical significance," said Doug Speck, Volvo's president and CEO, through a team news release.
For the winners, it was a day that started long before the raffle presentation on the field. The crew and their families took a pregame tour of the park, then watched batting practice from atop the Green Monster.
They were met by members of previous Red Sox teams, including Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn and Jim Rice. For some, that was just as big of a thrill as the ceremony itself. Ward acknowledged that Lynn was his hero during his playing days with the Sox in the 1970s.
"They were so excited," Lynn said. "For some of them, it was their first game. They'd never been, so we were signing autographs. It's a great promotion."
But what will remain long after the day is over for these individuals will be the ring, and it's something everyone agreed would be special.
An heirloom. A special engagement ring for their children. Even a conversation starter for the ages. Whatever the situation, the winners were more than happy to be part of the special day.
"[The way an] average fan could be honored by the team's owners and players just underscores what makes the Red Sox special," Twohig said. "This ring will be in our family forever."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.