Advertisement
  1. Rays

World Series: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains a Red Sox hero

BOSTON — The Dodgers already had plenty to yell about, and to toast, when they gathered in the bar of Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel late Saturday to continue the celebration of their National League championship.

But as a quick clip from the ALCS 14 years ago flashed on the TV screens, they stopped all the small talk and let out another roar — watching their current boss, manager Dave Roberts, steal his way into baseball's postseason lore.

"We all started cheering,'' infielder/outfielder Kike Hernandez relayed Monday. "We started cheering for Doc (as Roberts is affectionately known) and he got a little blushed and embarrassed. It was great. It was funny. We've been giving him a pretty hard time about it the last few days.''

Roberts will hear it again Tuesday night, decibels louder, likely full roar, from the Fenway faithful.

Even though he will be introduced as the manager of the team standing in the way of the Red Sox winning another World Series championship.

That's because that stolen base was, and still is, such a celebrated part of Red Sox history.

The catalyzing play that sparked the ninth-inning Game 4 comeback from the previously unsurmountable three games to none deficit they faced against the Yankees.

And eventually to the previously seemingly unattainable first Red Sox World Series championship in 86 years as they didn't lose again, sweeping the Cardinals to break a curse, the curse, in the process.

As much as this World Series will be about the relentless Red Sox lineup, the depth of the Dodgers and the frontline starting pitching on both sides, the preamble was about a man and his moment.

"It is great coming back to this great city,'' Roberts said Monday. "I've got nothing but great memories. Even flying into Logan (airport) and just this time of year, this city, the leaves changing. And then you drive up to Fenway Park and it all just kind of comes back to you, 2004. And the teammates I had. The coaches. And that energy that only Fenway Park has.''

Roberts was an unlikely legend, a part-time player for the Sox, added as a spare part in a July 31 trade from the (coincidence alert) Dodgers, where he was teammates and good friends with Alex Cora, who (coincidence alert, part 2) is now the manager of the Red Sox.

Cora is still fresh with Roberts not taking the news well.

"He was down, upset. It was a good group. We felt that we had something special going on,'' Cora said. "And I still remember, I told him, 'Hey man, you're going to a great baseball city. You never know what can happen. So just enjoy the ride.'

"He came here, he stole that base, and that night I texted him right after, I was like, I don't know what's going to happen here, but if this happens, you're going to become a hero. And he is here in this city.''

Roberts, pinch-running for Kevin Millar, stole second off Mariano Rivera, sliding in head first just ahead of Derek Jeter's tag, then scored the tying run on a hit by Bill Mueller. The Sox won it in the 12th on a walkoff homer by David Ortiz and seized the momentum.

Red Sox historian Gordon Edes, noting that many of previous Sox postseason highlights were ultimately in losing efforts, said Roberts' steal is worthy of celebration. "A singular moment in New England history, much like the Sons of Liberty dumping British tea into the Boston Harbor, and that act ultimately led to the American Revolution.'' (Even greater, Edes said was Ortiz delivering the winning hit that night and again in Game 5.)

Cora jabs his good buddy Roberts, pointing out the residual of his fame is that "now he comes here and he makes a lot of money signing autographs. I know he puts 'The greatest stolen base in the history of the game.' He makes a lot of money in an hour. Probably he's making money right now.''

Roberts laughed, insisting it's "probably not as lucrative as Alex made it sound.'' Having coached with the Padres before taking over the Dodgers, Roberts would prefer the attention be on his players. But he realizes how special, and impactful, his steal, and more so what it led to, really was. Especially as often as people tell him.

"They all touch me in different ways,'' he said. "I think the key that I've really grown to appreciate is it's not about me. I understand that it was a big play for me, for the Red Sox and our club in 2004, but understanding that everyone has a moment. That moment is special to them or whoever they're with, and however they identify that play with that particular moment. And for to them to want to share that with me, that's pretty humbling.

"So I've really grown to love to hear the different stories. I've heard stories of parents on their deathbed and got to see it, and then finally gave way once they saw us win a championship. And it doesn't get more impactful or heartwarming than that.''

Though he'll be in enemy grays, Roberts will get another reminder Tuesday night.

"We're expecting him to get a standing ovation or something,'' Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling said. "He's still a legend around here, right?''

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement