Thousands of fans cheer on victorious Red Sox

10/31/2007 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox needed a closer -- even for their
World Series championship parade -- Jonathan Papelbon was their man.

Papelbon donned a kilt and danced his trademark Irish jig to the
roars of tens of thousands of fans Tuesday as the city celebrated
Boston's second World Series title in four years with a
three-mile-long rolling rally from Fenway Park to City Hall Plaza.

"The fans connect to Papelbon because he cuts loose, he's
passionate," said Red Sox fan Ryan McCarty, who was carrying
"Mobile Papelbon," a giant cardboard likeness with its legs on

Players and their families boarded 20 amphibious, World War
II-era duck boats outside the stadium for a journey through the
city. Manny Ramirez grabbed a microphone and yelled to fans along
the route. "You guys are No. 1." "There's a party at my house
tonight." "We did it for you guys." "We're gonna do it again
next year." "You guys are the best fans in the whole world."

Fans showed their love back for the team, chanting "MVP" to
Mike Lowell and waving signs with wedding proposals to rookie
Jacoby Ellsbury.

The two-hour parade paused three times for Papelbon to dance on
a flatbed truck, accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys, a
Boston-based punk rock band with heavy Irish folk music influence.

Before the parade, the band presented Papelbon with his own kilt
plus one for ace Josh Beckett and general manager Theo Epstein, who
had promised to dance with him. They also made a kilt for slugger
David Ortiz, whom they hoped to coax into the jig.

At the first two stops at Copley Plaza and Boston Common,
Papelbon danced alone, wearing jeans, a red championship T-shirt
and dark sunglasses and waving a large cigar in his hand. Along the
route, he played air guitar on a broom -- a reference to Boston's sweep
of the Colorado Rockies.

But he saved his best dancing -- and wardrobe change, putting the
kilt over his jeans -- for the largest crowd which packed City Hall
Plaza, the end of the parade. He was joined by relievers Hideki
Okajima and Mike Timlin, who earlier had tied the bullpen mascot, a
stuffed parrot, onto one of the speakers on the Dropkick Murphys'
flatbed. On another boat, six members of Boston's bullpen recreated
their postseason jam sessions.

Ortiz and Epstein never got the chance to don their kilts, as
their duck boats continued on the route.

The caravan of duck boats followed a similar route to the
rolling celebration staged after the Red Sox broke an 86-year World
Series drought in 2004 by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red
Sox completed a sweep of the Rockies on Sunday with a 4-3 win in

Mark Rinaldi, a student at Harvard, said he attended the 2004
parade and "I never thought I'd be able to do it again in my
lifetime. To do it twice is pretty incredible."

Most of the players and manager Terry Francona wore bright red
hooded championship sweat shirts. Some, including first baseman
Kevin Youkilis and Timlin, wore T-shirts that said "We did it
AGAIN." Many of the players took photos or video recordings of the
fans along the way.

Owner John Henry, wearing an argyle gray sweater, tapped his
hand on his heart in thanks as he waved to fans from a lead boat,
which also carried the new World Series trophy.

Fans decked out in Red Sox gear lined the route, holding signs
and cheering for the team. Some couldn't resist a shot at the
archrival New York Yankees and former Red Sox star Johnny Damon,
who defected to New York after the 2004 championship.

"Johnny Damon is home changing diapers," read one sign. "This
is better."

Along the way, fans yelled to team management "Re-sign

Ramirez agreed, telling a City Hall crowd, "Forget about A-Rod,
we've got Mike Lowell in the house."

One fan held a sign also referring to Alex Rodriguez, the
Yankees third baseman who this week opted out of his contract with
New York: "A-Rod: Mr. April, Miss October."

There were some indications Boston fans might even be getting
picky about their championships, with 2004 and 2007 coming when the
Sox were on the road.

Ortiz said a fan asked him when the team was going to win a
World Series at Fenway.

"I told him, 'Dude, it doesn't matter where you win it, as long
as you win it,"' Ortiz said.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said before the parade that he
could not choose which Series win he liked better.

"They're two flavors of ice cream -- they both taste good," he
said. "You can't choose among them. I think the next one is going
to taste good, too."

Mayor Thomas Menino acknowledged having the celebration on a
week day would inconvenience some businesses and keep school
children away, but said players were eager to get home to their
families and begin their vacation. This year's parade had one
significant difference from the 2004 parade: it did not proceed
into the Charles River. Menino said that decision was made by the

Before the parade, Menino stumbled on the stairs at Fenway while
carrying the 2004 World Series trophy and injured his knee. A
spokeswoman said he hyperextended his knee, but was fine.

Menino also said a "rolling rally" was easier for city
officials to manage, because it spread out the crowds. He estimated
security would cost $500,000.

Police refused to give a crowd estimate. People were lined up
along the three-mile route, dozens deep at some points.