date published: April 26, 2004

After one of their most memorable baseball seasons in recent history, the Boston Red Sox have endured nearly as exciting an off-season. Upon losing a dramatic Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in October to the hated New York Yankees, the Sox brass went right back to work, shoring up their one glaring weakness of 2003: pitching. Boston acquired one of the best starters in the game, former Sox farm hand and 2001 World Series co-MVP Curt Schilling, in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and signed free-agent closer Keith Foulke, the 2003 American League saves leader. This gave the Olde Towne Team—already featuring All-Star hurlers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe—one of the best pitching staffs in the game. And in what was nearly the icing on the cake, the Sox almost completed a deal that would have sent left fielder Manny Ramirez to Texas in exchange for American League MVP Alex Rodriguez, while sending short stop Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago for All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordonez.

Yet no sooner had the players union nixed the trade than those damn Yankees swooped in and stole our thunder. Pulling off a deal that put Rodriguez in pinstripes instead of red stockings, George Steinbrenner and Co. fanned the flames of what is already the hottest rivalry in sports.
But all hope is not lost. Here’s just a few of the reasons why.

The 2003 Red Sox were one of the most potent offenses in Major League history. They led the league in several major hitting categories, including runs scored, runs batted in, hits and batting average, and even set the all-time team record for slugging percentage in a season. That same powerhouse crew is mostly intact for 2004.

Perennial All-Stars Garciaparra and Ramirez return, as well as 2003 batting champion Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and long-time stalwart Trot Nixon (currently hobbled by a bad back), all of whom put up career numbers last season. And let’s not forget leadoff hitter Johnny Damon, who looks to rebound from a sub-par 2003 campaign.

The biggest change has been the addition of the aforementioned pitchers. On the other side of the plate, playoff hero Todd Walker has been replaced with the smooth-fielding (but light-hitting) Pokey Reese, a two-time Gold Glove winner. In a serious case of deja vu, once-and-future Sox sluggers Brian Daubach and Ellis Burks return to provide power off the bench.

The most important new face, however, won’t be seen on the diamond, but in the dugout. New manager Terry Francona replaces fired playoff scapegoat Grady Little, who, although well-liked by the players, was dismissed not long after that agonizing Game 7 ALCS loss in which he left Martinez on the mound just a few pitches too long. So far, though, it appears Francona has won over his new team, no doubt helped by his friendships with Schilling, who Francona managed as the Philadelphia Phillies’ skipper, and Foulke, who he coached in Oakland.

The “Cowboy Up” slogan may have been mercifully put out to pasture, but these Sox are still considered a strong playoff contender, and some even believe the team’s pitching is good enough to challenge the dreaded Yankees for the AL East crown. And if the power surge continues on offense, who knows? The Patriots may not be the only ones to hold a parade in the Hub this year.

back to homepage


Even with the addition of new seats, Fenway is still the smallest ballpark in major league baseball. That means tickets are pricey and hard to come by—especially at the last minute. But diehard fans always find a way to see the game even if it’s “officially” sold out. Here’s how:

  • The box office on Yawkey Way. Tickets sometimes become available the day of the game. If you get to the box office early (open Mon–Fri 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat ’til 2 p.m.), you may be able to score some seats, although they may not be together.
  • Surfing the Web. People who can’t use their tickets often sell them on or And this year the Red Sox will unveil a new web site where, for $50 a season, you can buy seats for face value directly from season ticket holders. Check for details.
  • Buy a standing room ticket. For $20–30 you can gain admission to Fenway, but you’ll have to stand on the sidelines or battle an obstructed view.
  • Call a ticket agency. The yellow pages are full of companies eager to sell you hard-to-get tickets—for a hefty service fee, of course.
  • Find a scalper. Truth be told, despite it being illegal to sell tickets above face value, scalpers still abound in and around Fenway. Fortunately there are also quite a few fans who just can’t use all their tickets and may want to unload them legally before the game. For the record, box seats are $70–75, infield grandstand are $44, outfield seats are $27 and bleacher seats are $12–20. Check the price on the tickets before you pay to make sure you’re staying within the law.

    —Christine Celli