The Curtis Leskanic society

Posted: Oct 29, 2004 12:00 AM

Boston Globe, Oct. 16: "The Yankees stripped the Red Sox of all dignity last night, pummeling six Boston pitchers en route to a hideous, 19-8 victory, which gives them a 3-0 lead. So there. For the 86th consecutive autumn, the Red Sox are not going to win the World Series. No baseball team in history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit. ... Mercy."

 Mercy came, as the Red Sox won four straight over New York and kept going, so that the Globe could report on Oct. 27, "Eighty-six years of waiting are over. The Red Sox won their first World Series title since 1918 with a 3-0 victory over the (St. Louis) Cardinals tonight. The win completed a four-game sweep."

 Mercy came, with some improbable instruments turning the tide in the fourth, turning point game against the Yankees. In the eleventh inning, with all their good relief pitchers worn out, the Red Sox in desperation gave the ball to 36-year-old Curtis Leskanic, who entered the game with a horrendous 20.25 earned run average in post-season play.

 Astoundingly, Leskanic held off New York for that inning and the next, allowing the Sox to win in the bottom of the 12th. They then won the next day, and the next day, and kept winning: eight straight over their nemesis, the dreaded Yankees, and a very good Cardinals team.

 As Francis Schaeffer taught, there are no little people in life: Everyone has an important role to play. This Red Sox winning streak would not have started without the Curtis Leskanic Society of little people coming through in the clutch. It would not have continued without key hits by little-known names -- Bellhorn, Mueller, Trot Nixon, Varitek -- as well as great pitching by two better-known veterans who had horrible Septembers, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe.

 Good theology and guts also made a difference. Reporters badgered players relentlessly about years of team failure, but Curt Schilling, throwing magnificently from the mound on a sutured-together dislocated tendon that left his sock increasingly bloody with each pitch, prayed for the strength to do his best and publicly thanked God afterward. Bill Mueller and others also prayed not for a win but for the presence of mind not to worry about a non-existent "curse of the Bambino."

 "All's well that ends well," is the way Christians view history and its eventual consummation. One Red Sox fan thinking back at past traumas said, "Everything's been worth it."

 And a personal note: Every year for the past 44 years, since I was 10 years old and became inescapably a Red Sox fan, I've had a sense of sadness at the end of the baseball season. Not this year.