By: Patrick Whittle
(photo credit: http://images.google.com)
From the first game of the 1901 baseball season to August 5, 1998, the Boston Red Sox were just a baseball club – a ragtaggle band of glove-toting misfits who lollygagged their way through many a sunny summer afternoon at Ye Olde Ballpark.
Then, on August 6 of that august August, the Olde Towne Team entered the SPS era. That’s right. Since Pete Schourek.
Aquired from the Houston Colt .45s for a bag of balls, two coupons for free Wendy’s Chili (the kind you get at Providence Bruins games when they score a goal before the other team) and Terry Shumpert’s phone number, Schourek immediately cemented himself as a fixture in the Boston rotation.
Schourek would post his first and last Boston win of 1998 on Sept. 22, a day New Englanders call Pete Schourek Day, a holiday third only to Patriots Day and Flag Day on the list of Important Fake Holidays that Massachusetts State Employees Get to Take Off. But Schourek, a crafty lefty to rival Tom Glavine, Jamie Moyer or Tom Colicchio, would cement his status as a Sox legend on Oct. 3, 1998.
While the world outside moshed to Floorpunch and bemoaned the comeback of Ricky Martin, Schourek sought to save the Boston season at Fenway Park. The surprising Sox faced Doc Gooden, Bob Feller, Craig Ehlo and the Cleveland Indians in game four of the American League Division Series. The Sox won game one behind Pedro Martinez, but the Indians cheated in games two and three, leaving it up to Schourek to even the series. It was impossible to start Martinez on short rest because he had hemorrhoids, the shits, and a hangnail.
Schourek, dealt, dueled, daddled and doodled. He fired, fretted, fiddled and foodled. He battled, beefed, bartered and biddled. He also pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings, giving up only two cheap, garbage hits. Despite his status as a finesse lefty not known for throwing heat, Schourek the Hero fanned righthanded slugger Ritchie Sexson, who is eight feet tall and hit .310 that year.
But in the top of the sixth, David Justice hit a chintzy double that Darren Lewis would have caught if he wasn’t such a stupid jerk, and Jimy Williams brought in Derek Lowe. That worked out OK, as Lowe picked up a Hold (a stat known only to bedwetting fantasy league sweathogs who stare at www.bb-ref.com all day) and pitched well.
Unfortunately Schourek’s effort was wasted, and the Sox season flushed down the crapper like so much deuce, when Tom Gordon coughed up the lead and Mike Jackson (no, not that one) closed the game out for the Tribe. But Schourek’s heroics endure in the mind’s eye, like a work of art or the first laugh of a newborn child.
Bravo, Pete Schourek. Bravo.