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Owners' stake in Sox personal
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10/21/2004 6:11 AM ET
Owners' stake in Sox personal
Faith in team and imaginitive GM deliver big first step
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Red Sox owner John W. Henry holds up the American League trophy as he and the rest of the team return to Fenway Park early Thursday morning. (Spencer Leonard/AP)

NEW YORK -- This is something Red Sox owner John W. Henry fantasized about back in February, 2002, when his ownership group took control of the team: Beating the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. At Yankee Stadium, no less.

That dream turned into a nightmare one year ago, when Henry and his two leading partners -- chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Larry Lucchino -- watched it all unravel from their box seats in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

This is no longer about dreams or nightmares for Henry, Werner and Lucchino. It's about reality. The trio were just part of the champagne-drenched visitors' clubhouse.

The Red Sox celebrated instead of mourned after this Game 7, upending the Yankees by a score of 10-3. And they did it by becoming the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to rally back from a 3-0 series deficit.


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"Make sure you get this," Henry said as he grabbed a reporter's tape recorder. "We beat the Yankees. It feels very good. You know where they put us tonight? In the Babe Ruth suite. I don't believe in omens. I only believe in winning and losing and we won."

Still, the brass has their eyes on an even better conquest.

"It's a great accomplishment to beat a team like the Yankees in Yankee Stadium," said Lucchino. "We're trying to remember in this moment of euphoria that it's an important step along the way, but it's just a step. We have one more important step we want to take. It's just been phenomenal. These players never quit. They're just a band of players who came together beautifully."

Facts machine
For the second straight year, the Red Sox and Yankees met in Game 7. It marked the fourth time in postseason history that two teams had a best-of-seven series decided in consecutive years in the seventh game:
Year/Series Teams Game 7
1955 WS Brooklyn at NY Yankees Brooklyn, 4-0
1956 WS NY Yankees at Brooklyn NYY, 9-0
 
1957 WS Milwaukee at NY Yankees Milwaukee, 5-0
1958 WS NY Yankees at Milwaukee NYY, 6-2
 
1991 NLCS Atlanta at Pittsburgh Atlanta, 4-0
1992 NLCS Pittsburgh at Atlanta Atlanta, 3-2
 
2003 ALCS Boston at NY Yankees NYY, 6-5 (11)
2004 ALCS Boston at NY Yankees Boston, 10-3

That band of players was pieced together by general manager Theo Epstein, the pride of Brookline, Mass. Thanks to his roots, he knows all about history. So, yes, beating the Yankees on the way to the World Series was the sweetest road there could be.

"Absolutely," said Epstein. "There have been so many great Red Sox players who would have tasted World Series champagne if it weren't for the Yankees. The guys in '49, '78, us last year. Now that we've won, this is for them. We can put that behind us and move on to the World Series and take care of that."

In the offseason, Epstein acquired Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke, two pitchers the Red Sox wouldn't be going to the World Series without. After watching his team sputter for three months in the middle of the season, he traded icon Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz.

He watched it all come together the last two months of the regular season, and even moreso in the face of adversity the last few days.

"We had to dig deep and find a way and guys learned to rely upon each other," said Epstein. "That's how you win pennants. The same thing happened this series. We put ourselves behind the eight ball and everyone looked at the other 24 guys in the clubhouse and said, 'I'm not letting you down. They willed it together."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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