A cheering crowd warmed a chilly Wednesday afternoon when representatives of the Boston Red Sox visited New Haven to present their World Series trophy to some of their biggest supporters.
Arriving from a morning reception at the Yale Law School, third baseman Kevin Youkilis, general manager Theo Epstein ’95 and Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino LAW ’71 were greeted on the New Haven Green by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and a screaming crowd of hundreds. Fans, many of whom were decked head to toe in Red Sox gear, waved flags and held signs with slogans such as “Johnny Damon is hot,” “Cursed to First” and “Hey Yanks, who’s your daddy now?”
Peter Coe ’05, who attended the rally, said he was excited for Boston’s World Series Championship and his team’s appearance in New Haven.
“I think I’ll look back on this as one of the defining moments of my life,” he said. “Not even joking. This victory has transformed the identity of an entire people.”
In his remarks to the crowd, Lucchino said he was “happy to be home” in New Haven and thanked the crowd for their outpouring of enthusiasm.
“We are so pleased to bring you the World Series trophy,” he said. “We actually came to congratulate you. The energy, fuel, and passion that drives these players comes from the fans. Our players know how fortunate they are to play in an area that cares so much about the Red Sox Nation.”
He added that he had heard a rumor there were still several Yankees and Mets fans in the New Haven area.
“But the Red Sox Nation is tolerant and open,” he said. “We welcome the unconverted.”
Lucchino then ceremoniously presented the World Series trophy to several children in the front of the crowd.
Youkilis also gave a short speech, in which he said he had never realized that the Red Sox nation had so many followers.
“It’s a pleasure to come out here and see you all,” he said. “You’re the best fans in the world.”
Epstein said he remembered his years at Yale when he wore Red Sox gear around campus.
“There were more Yankee hats than there were Red Sox ones,” he said. “But none of them are here today.”
Yankees fans were few and far between in the crowd. But watching the rally from a far corner of the Green was a bitter Yankees fan who wished to remain anonymous in “enemy territory.”
To Yankees fans’ displeasure, Epstein added that the Red Sox are hard at work building a team “that can do it again next year.”
At the Law School reception, Youkilis said fans’ support encourage the team in every game, and is responsible for their successes.
“You feel like you’re part of something great every time you step on that field,” he said. “You guys make that possible.”
The rally ended with an invitation to see the Red Sox unfurl their World Series Championship banner at Boston’s Fenway Park on April 11, 2005, when they open their season at home, against the New York Yankees.