The city’s hottest party guest has held that title during the past decade and a half for good reason. It’s nearly always on time. It arrives with a couple of expected guests. It keeps everyone in line. It attracts selfie seekers. And it exists as the life of the party without drinking all your wine or eating all your food.
When it arrived on the scene nearly 15 years ago, the Red Sox World Series trophy drew thousands of fans during its hundreds of stops. Now, it’s one of four silver beauties that travel as a symbol of Red Sox dominance in the 21st century, the latest member still in its infancy after Boston’s record-breaking 2018 season. Coming off that championship, the Sox have already gotten more than 100 requests for appearances, meaning there will be two or three trips per day to nursing homes, schools or fundraising dinners.
“Any time we win, we want to celebrate with as many fans as possible,” says Red Sox vice president of marketing and broadcasting Colin Burch, who scheduled the tour for the 2004 trophy. “In 2004, when we went around, I’m not sure there was a dry eye. And you still see a similar joy in 2007, 2013 and 2018. There’s an intergenerational aspect to baseball, and I think that spirit lives among the four trophies in a unique way.”
After the first title in 86 years, the 2004 trophy had a headline-generating tour that’s unmatched since. When Red Sox officials took it on a ferry to Gosnold before helicoptering it back to the mainland on June 24, 2005, it marked the last of all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts the trophy had toured—as well as 13 other states. To fulfill that commitment to visit every town in the state, Burch would schedule five or six stops a day in Western Mass., even staying the night with the Tiffany treasure at a hotel to avoid unnecessary mileage.
“At that point, the trophy was like seeing God. It was something they never thought they would see in their lifetimes,” says John McDermott, a supervisor with the Red Sox security staff, who’s been accompanying the spoils since 2004. “Every place we visited, we’d be seeing more than 1,000 people in the course of a couple of hours. And a large number of them had pictures of loved ones who had died and had never seen it.”
Despite the smaller crowds these days, the sight of the trophy still evokes plenty of emotion. McDermott recalls how the marathon bombing survivors bonded with the 2013 version, and that piece of hardware also helped invigorate a hospice patient during a visit in 2014. The 2018 trophy has already had a similar effect on at least one man.
“We brought it by a senior citizens home and one of the guys was laying in bed with it,” says Dan Lyons, who now coordinates the schedule for the Sox. “It was one week before he died, so it was one of the last memories for him.”
Whether it’s arriving at a VFW post or at a hospital to cheer up Jimmy Fund patients, the trophy always travels incognito—zipped up in a bag. One Red Sox ambassador and a security member accompany each trophy, so with four now—on the rare occasion that they’re together—it’s a two-vehicle trip. After the 2018 trophy spent most of spring training in Florida, it faces a busy start of the season back in Boston. But it’s already more well-traveled than some of its brethren: Manager Alex Cora took it to Puerto Rico soon after the Sox victory, marking the first time a Sox trophy stopped there. And it soon got to work doing what it does best: Lifting spirits on the hurricane-ravaged island.
“Each trophy for a year or so is the new kid on the block and brings a rush of excitement,” McDermott says. “But more than anything, they’re healing. They cure what ails you. People forget about other things and take pleasure in this.”