Dennis Eckersley said it on NESN: every last fan in Fenway was blowing on that ball, willing it past the wall and into the camera well.
When it landed, Red Sox Nation exploded: a late October slam could hardly draw a louder roar, and the feeling couldn’t really be better.
Papi’s homer doesn’t mean his woes are over. It doesn’t mean he’ll hit .350 from here on out, or that he’ll plant another into the stands tomorrow and every day after. But it means one big weight is off his shoulders, and the world can stop ticking off games since his last bomb.
The tally of homerless days must have felt like sand through an hourglass, measuring fans patience running out. But just before his average would have slipped below .200, Papi belted one good.
He homered at last, with his dad there to watch him. His teammates pulled the old prank, giving him the silent treatment when he first hit the dugout before exploding all at once with an attack of hugs and slaps and cheers: a band of brothers, to be sure. Papi took a curtain call for the still roaring crowd, not one fan seated in all Fenway. Later, he doubled off the wall, by way of a victory lap.
And we can exhale.
Of course, this was no dull game in any case. Papi’s homer was one of four in the bottom of the fifth, tying a club record for runs in a single inning. Jason Varitek was both the first and second Major League player to homer off Jays rookie Brett Cecil, going deep in each of his first two at-bats. And to finish things out, Ellsbury tied the Major League record for put outs with 12, getting his 12th for the last out of the ninth: the perfect close to a memorable game.
But the loudest ovation was for a moment we won’t soon forget. Whatever comes next, this was Papi’s triumph.