BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox’s victory in the World Series for the club’s first Major League Baseball title since 1918, and the unprecedented playoff comeback against the New York Yankees that made it possible, was selected the sports story of the year by the U.S. newspaper and broadcast members of The Associated Press.
The Red Sox triumph was a runaway winner with 108 first-place votes and 1,325 points, beating out Lance Armstrong’s sixth straight Tour de France title (seven first-place votes, 785 points) and the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl was third (six first-place votes, 662 points).
The New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory and 21-game National Football League winning streak was next (zero first-place votes, 498 points), followed by sports’ steroid stories (eight first-place votes, 495 points).
Earlier this month, in a poll of wordwide subscribers, Greece’s victory in soccer’s European Championship was selected the top sports story, beating out the Summer Olympics, which was second.
Merely winning the U.S. baseball title after an 86-year drought probably would have been enough to make the Red Sox the year’s top story. But the Sox added drama to their title.
Despite playing .500 ball for most of the year, Boston swept the Anaheim Angels in the first round, with designated hitter David Ortiz – ‘Papi’ – hitting a clinching homer in the 10th inning of Game 3. But the Red Sox just as quickly fell behind the Yankees 3-0 in the American League championship series.
No MLB team had ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to even tie a seven-game series, let alone win it. But the Red Sox, rallied from 4-3 deficit in ninth inning of the fourth game to tie it and eventually won in the 12th.
It won the next three games to defeat the Yankees and rolled over the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, prompting a victory parade that drew millions.
‘Just about everywhere I go, people get very emotional. These people have been waiting a lot longer than I have,’ said Bill Mullaly, a 30-year-old Red Sox security guard who escorts the Commissioner’s Trophy awarded to the World Series winners on many of its visits. ‘It’s had a huge impact on people. It’s made them feel good.’