Starting Nine: Run to the Title

Part of the STARTING NINE series
Written by: Craig Muder

The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine includes must-see artifacts from every big league team. Check out the Red Sox Starting Nine online.

The circumstances appeared virtually hopeless for the Red Sox when Dave Roberts was tabbed to pinch run in Game 4 of the ALCS on Oct. 17, 2004, at Fenway Park.

But with one stolen base, Roberts turned the tide of a series, a season and a franchise that had been waiting for this moment for almost a century.

Down 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth – and trailing in the series 3-games-to-none – the Red Sox faced the daunting prospect of rallying off future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera had shut down Boston in the eighth inning, but Keith Millar worked a five-pitch walk from the Yankees closer to start the ninth. On came Roberts, who had not yet appeared in the ALCS.

On Rivera’s first pitch to Bill Mueller, Roberts took off for second. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada got a good pitch to handle – a cutter up and away – and uncorked a dart to second base that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter caught about waist high on the third base side.

Jeter applied a perfect swipe tag, but Roberts’ left hand met the bag a split second before Jeter’s glove hit his arm. Second base umpire Joe West correctly called Roberts safe, drawing a rousing cheer from the Fenway faithful.

Roberts, who was 38-for-41 on stolen base attempts in the regular season, was now in scoring position. And on a 1-1 pitch, Mueller laced a single up the middle – scoring Roberts to tie the game.

The spikes Roberts wore on that day are now on exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

The Red Sox would go on the win Game 4 in the 12th inning on David Ortiz’s home run. Three days later, they would complete the first 0-3 comeback in MLB Postseason history with a 10-3 win in Game 7.

And in the World Series, Boston would end 86 years of frustration by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals.


Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Starting Nine

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The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine is a lineup of must-see artifacts from our vast collection containing tens of thousands of pieces that preserve the magical moments and memorable stories of our National Pastime. Our curators have spent countless hours hand-picking special objects from every major league team to create a lineup of pieces you simply won’t believe we have!

Part of the STARTING NINE series